This poem was written by Arminé Iknadossian using words generated by Terry Wolverton through fevered writing. Comments by Arminé on the process of writing the poem appear below.
A History of Tears
Tears are brutes, aren’t they?
You cannot drink them or refuse them,
unless, like mothers milk,
they are lifted out of the bra and pressed
to the space where men never give any credit.
Bitterness, on the other hand,
is a bulimic mother with an empty refrigerator,
not even a drop of nectar or rosewater,
not even a little sip from a skull-cup of prayer.
Her rage eats the baby, then purges politely
in the basement away from the father
who swallows sorrow till he is swollen with it.
Every wall between them is just another
misunderstood woman with an opinion.
I had grown accustomed to this buffet of bitterness,
as if hormones and broken plates wait
inside the nipple of domestic violence.
As if history and crowded airports –
as if the elephant in the belly of the breast –
as if the rounded house of calm we’d grown accustomed to
presided over our songs of urgency like ancestors
unbuttoning their lives to make room for growth.
I wanted to understand my mother like I understood my ovaries.
But the uterus does not know mollification.
So, when I was 16, I cried until I smelled like a wet dog,
until all my eggs went crazy,
until my plate was piled high with women’s brains,
until I refused to drink nothing but the most intelligent stars.
Statement about the Process
This project spun me around until I was dizzy with nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions. I was also sick for a week and could not smell or taste anything, which made my poetic sensibilities panic from lack of stimuli. I tried taking apart the fevered writing as Terry suggested, but once I had the lists of words segregated to their parts of speech, it became more of a mathematical dilemma, almost like diagramming a sentence in English class. So, I checked in with my intuition, and it told me to read the words out loud. So I did. I read them out loud over and over again until my brain soaked them up into my subconscious. Then, the door opened, and there I was listening to Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and typing words, then stitching and unstitching the stanzas like a panicked child with a puzzle. The experience forced me to unhinge a little. I started to doubt myself and to wonder if true talent meant being able to create on demand. I overcame the doubt enough, as all writers doubt themselves at one point or another. I hope you like my poem.
This poem was written by Terry Wolverton using words generated by Arminé Iknadossian through fevered writing.
Because Our Tongues Are Shaking
No witness to the girl dripping blood onto her favorite dress
no petals for her birthday, no sugar
No witness to the sissies crying in the alley
their check-ups afford no rescue
No witness to rebels hallucinating a fountain
sweet water thrilling their hair
No witness to hungry larks on their final twirl
in the wild, orange air
No witness to the cool hands of Rattlesnake Man
because everybody kills
No witness to sad parents spilling cocktails
into their shadows at breakfast
No witness to the sad queen tasting
the bitter tea of remorse
No witness to the lantern as it dies of thirst
to the river that swallows its tail