I gave four prompts to collaborating poet Nicelle Davis. She conducted three minutes of “fevered writing” with each prompt. Here are the results. These words comprise the lexicon I’ll use to create my dis•articulations poem.
CLOWN MOTEL NEXT TO CEMETERY FILLED WITH VICTIMS OF MYSTERIOUS 1902 PLAGUE IS FOR SALE
I would buy it. All of it. The mystery. The victims. The Cemetery. But, just as with so many other things, wouldn’t know what to do with it. “It” is the real issue? What is “it”? The mystery of the eternal parasitic—biomatter living off the substance of another biomatter until the world, like a body, is overtaken by fever. And what of that passion? Blood and lotion in bedsheets?—the things people do when only an audience of unblinking figurines is watching. What to do with all the human parts those ceramic clowns have seen? Where to put all that? In the ground? I can’t afford it, but if I could I would burn it to a spoonful of ash and eat it.
A big sandwich for every zodiac sign
The first sandwich ever made was formed by a professional gambler—John something or other—who never wanted to leave the chance at a good hand. Knowing the past is much like forecasting the future; the sky is full of abstract predication played out on a nightly game table. My name is uncommon so lovers get it wrong. I’d rather fold when I should play (or is it the other way around). We might owe one of man’s greatest inventions to a total loser. Ain’t that something? Ain’t I something? Is this pick-up line? Am I picking up on something big here?—like an entire zodiac?
Sleep is For the Weak
The shadow-men begin to live at the corner of my eyes. They scurry out from the corners of all my rooms. I begin to wonder about corners—how things catch there. Even the un-things catch there, like dust. Dust is mainly comprised of missing skin—though no one really misses it. They don’t even know they lost it. It usually is just sunburn that’s come off—dust, like sleep, is a death no one morns. It has been three days without sleep and the world has become a door where nothing exits or enters or exists for that matter.
Autism Screening Questionnaire — Speech and Language Delay
Sometimes we called the washing machine his “girlfriend” because he loved to hold himself against it during the spin cycle. He loved his girlfriend so much that he’d wet himself three times in the same school day. We’d call his father to bring more pants. The boy would leap into his father’s arms. His father would catch all 16 years of him. This—the great love of life—we sometimes call joy, but the son was getting big—had even found a girlfriend—and no father can live to bring his son pants—not forever.
Collaborating poet Nicelle Davis gave four prompts to me. I conducted three minutes of “fevered writing” with each prompt. Here are the results. These words comprise the lexicon Nicelle will use to create her dis•articulations poem.
CENTRALIA, PA — THE GHOST TOWN THAT’S STILL ON FIRE
Ghosts on fire are lighting up the night. Smoke hangs in the air all day but after dark sparks come to life. I once spent a night driving across Pennsylvania. It was in the 1970s. We went to a diner for coffee and played Al Green on the tabletop jukebox about fifty times, “Sha-La-La-La-La-La-La, Oh, baby.” His voice merged with the asphalt and powered us across that snowy territory. We had come from a ceramics conference, clay vessels that also meet the fire.
CAT RESCUED CARRYING HALF ITS WEIGHT IN MATTED FUR
My mother thought it was a bad idea to grow my hair long. She said I was just doing it to punish her, making her take time each day to brush it out. I’d scream when she wasn’t gentle with the tangles. There were lots of tangles because I had white girl hair and the longer it grew the more snarled it became. One day my mother threw down the comb in disgust and said, it’s not my problem anymore. If you want your hair to come down to your ass, you have to take care of it. I was no more patient than she. Before you knew it, birds were nesting in my hair.
YOU WILL NEVER UNSEE THIS!
The shape of her hatred etched itself onto my eyeballs, just as acid etches the metal plate for printing. Now everything I see wears that face, the eyes glaring, staring, the mouth molded into scathing indifference. Now I see that expression on the birds outside my window, on the face of the postman who brings me my mail, on the toast popping out of the toaster. Even my front door seems to warn me away. Even my shoes run in the other direction.
THE WORLD’S BIGGEST HEART IS NOW ON DISPLAY
How big would you need to be to have a heart that size? It’s like a bowling ball, rolling down the lane for a strike. My mom was on a bowling team once, with other girls from work. Secretaries at Mobil Oil. They’d wear matching sweaters and pencil skirts to work, pedal pushers to bowl in. They liked going to the alley, having a drink, keeping score. My mother’s heart was not like a bowling ball, but more like the pins, knocked down again and again but always getting up for more.