But I say it is what you love: collaborative generating #17

But I say it is what you love: collaborative generating #17


I smother my two-thirds dark up this body

against four carpet corners of prayer

the gong on the black cart

the deep crane fatigues of my forefathers


ask for nothing smashed fingers


till blue light come


right now: the alley, skin

the willow trains will betray what you love

your black body inside me I sing

each step as tall as her legs

ten lashes to speak a river


the stones made people too


(made from the words of Rachelle Cruz, Dani Hartke, Hari Malagayo Alluri, Todd Wellman, Evangeline Ganaden, Serena W. Lin, Carol Gomez & Clarissa Rojas)


Promptings for your writings:

Make love. My lover leaves me with words I wish
To write. Flies from one side of a nation to the outside 
Of our world. I don't want the world. I only want 
African sense of American sound. Him. Touching. 
This body. Aware of its pains. Greetings, Earthlings. 
My name is Slow And Stumbling. I come from planet 
Trouble. I am here to leave you uncomfortable. 
-Jericho Brown, from “Heart Condition”


I was born here,
I have nothing left to conceal.
When the clerk chides
the mother and her child
beside me for blocking
the center aisle, only she
is worried. Do you understand?
I was educated in the proper books,
disciplined in the correct grammar.
I can trace my name
to a great-uncle who retired
with emphysema from
the Ford Rouge Plant,
and it doesn’t matter now
that he was buried
in Michigan City under a name
he couldn’t pronounce.

Hayan Charara, from “Immigration and Naturalization”


Akua Naru, “The World Is Listening”


We the onlookers on the corner
do not know shame,
chin to chest, Midas in the night,
in the night, shirtless in the night that comes
down humid, streetlight that comes down platinum,
in the streetlight, a pack of boys sprinting in the streetlight.
The city ends with bullet-hole, ends with light-bills,
with welfare
and food stamps—we pluck and sprint, gulp down malt
and take it to the head—
we huff the daylights out of our head.

Santee Frazier, from “10th Street Anthem”

(click on the link to see the real formatting)


Two (!) Prompts: (via Rachelle Cruz)

Pitching a Tent
Meena Alexander (from Poetics of Dislocation)

1.Poetry makes a dwelling for us, a tent of words.
2.The tent has holes for the wind to blow through, holes pierced by gunfire, by arrows, by sharp stones.
3.It can be pitched on solid ground, or rolled up, borne through air, carried over water. It can be unfurled here or there.
4.Inside the shelter we turn from the violence of history, to the lyric measures of poetry, so that we can see again, eyes wiped free of blood; so that we can hear again, the voices that allow us to be human.
5.Poetry makes ground in a vertiginous world.
6.All this is true, and necessary for our survival.
7.None of this is true.


(via Craig Santos Perez)


“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.” –
Mary Oliver via beautiful words – http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/220899054589810/

(via Hari Malagayo Alluri)


I can be the treble. You can be the bass” – britney s. (via Todd Wellman)


Jesus Saviour

8 bells. I cannot sleep, for I am sick
with fear, but writing eases fear a little
since still my eyes can see these words take shape
upon the page & so I write, as one
would turn to exorcism.


from The Sense of an Ending by Frank Kermode “The clock’s ‘tick-tock’ I take to be a model of what we call a plot, an organisation which humanises time by giving it a form; and the interval between ‘tock’ and ‘tick’ represents purely successive, disorganised time of the sort we need to humanise.” (via Serena W. Lin)


Today I’m bored, calm, protected, loved, hopeful, curious, confused, secure, happy” – 10 year old reporting his feelings for the day (via Carol Gomez)


to honor night – Clarissa Rojas


12 Responses to “But I say it is what you love: collaborative generating #17”

  1. caroljg Says:

    Prompt: “Inside the shelter we turn from the violence of history, to the lyric measures of poetry, so that we can see again, eyes wiped free of blood; so that we can hear again, the voices that allow us to be human.~ Meena Alexander via Rachelle Cruz”

    waking up to words
    is changing my brain chemistry
    pouring elixir of smooth calm
    and soap stones of gentle creativity
    that comes from within, not looted from
    the global south and turned into a commodity
    for someone else to throw gold coins at
    and brag to the joneses
    about exotic artifacts of brown girls
    their eyes heard
    this rhythm makes me think in dome like shapes
    in floral lens, not in linear but
    softly twined like a trumpet vine
    coiling gracefully around and around
    unfolding the raw beauty, ugliness, mundane, funny
    peaks and flows of the days unfolding
    with so much gratitude
    filling the subtext
    of every space, line,
    every marking
    on the page

    …to: ching-in, jericho brown, meena alexander via rachelle cruz, robert hayden via evangeline, hari alurri

    “The J. Paul Getty Museum’s iconic statue of Aphrodite was quietly escorted back to Sicily by Italian police, ending a decades-long dispute over an object whose craftsmanship, importance and controversial origins have been likened to the Parthenon marbles in the British Museum.”
    ~ LA Times, March 23 2011

  2. racruzzo Says:

    Today I’m exorcism,
    the vertiginous world,
    under a name
    he couldn’t pronounce.
    For I am sick.
    Greetings, Earthlings.
    I don’t want the world.
    I only want shirtless
    in the night that comes
    I only want the willow
    trains platinum
    in their grammar.

    words from Jericho Brown, Hayan Charara, Santee Frazier, Meena Alexander, Ching-In Chen, Mary Oliver, Robert Hayden via Evangeline Ganaden, Carol Gomez.

    Two more prompts (I’m sad this is ending. Thank you again, Ching-In and all who have participated!):

    *Frida’s Corset

    *Wasteland Documentary Trailer

  3. toddw Says:

    Words from: Jericho Brown, Hayan Charara, Santee Frazier, Mary Oliver, Britney S., Clarissa Rojas

    Buried onlookers make city head.
    Only hundred stumbling flies.
    You can be proper body.
    Today loved to curious.
    Do honor night.

  4. hari malagayo alluri Says:

    “you cannot praise the sun without acknowledging the void”

    prayers swept into corners, under the rug, dark
    up this body. to honor their own story, trains carry
    flies from one edge of a land mass
    to the other. dirt too, even people who question
    the nation because of what the tracks betrayed
    in order to exist. i have smiled at flags,
    recognizing their gentle sway as the violence i fear most.

    a woman i know was five when she tried to explain
    to the man in the grocery aisle she was forbidden from
    wandering that the slur he called her was inaccurate.
    thanks be to every trickster who stole poetry
    from the gods, making it inseparable from all the questions
    i’ve hidden from my shame. do you
    understand why i fight? the night whispered the moon…

    cipher: ching-in, serena, dani, jericho brown, hayan charara, santee frazier, rachelle, meena alexander, evangeline, robert hayden, clarissa rojas, carol, chris abani, elmaz abinader.

    gratitude to you all, who have beautified my relationship to poetry and strengthened my belief that all writing is in a way collaborative writing

    prompt suggestions:
    1) what are the sounds of respect / beauty / sharing?
    2) is all writing collaborative writing…

  5. Bushra Says:

    Oh my, is it over already, got caught up (in fun things) but am glad I made it back in time for the last post!! you all have been so amazing to read, my jaw just dropped at the posts in this prompt alone! Thanks Ching-In and all! And I’d be happy to keep this magic going!

    the willow trains will betray what you love

    and I meant to write this poem
    about all my friends
    and how lucky I am
    Stacey, Chitra, Sadia, Andrea, Ben
    in no order of course,
    Aisha, Tahira as sisters
    the world
    is so often

    so terrible, and as Chitra says, “Why
    can’t it be too good to be true,
    when there are so many things
    that are too bad?”

    And you know, wouldn’t you
    feel lucky

    with a friend like that
    dropping jewels out of her mouth and her arms
    day .

    and I love her,
    just as I love Stacia,

    my old soul friend, ghost living and dying everyday
    touching spirits and her beauty shocking everyone who comes
    near, it’s epic, the plants tremble when she comes near

    who? who? who? next

    Diedra is a pillar and Andrea is nesting in North Carolina
    and Stas is getting his ticket to get over here to make some crazy magic.
    and Sadia is at Zahra’s house and Aisha is at Farhan’s and Tahira
    and Saleem are nursing the fourth of their children, the one planned as last
    even though I always say to Tahira, the fifth child in our family of six,
    what’s wrong with the fifth?

    and wouldn’t you feel lucky in all this magic?

    inspiration from all, prompt from Ching-In (and the parent of where Ching-In pulled from)

  6. Bushra Says:

    and my prompt!
    especially the last part which I’ve been living and loving. .

  7. clarissa rojas Says:

    she took pleasure from the air
    smile like the world cracked open
    the moon followed her glow
    she danced the iridescent dream
    shook the slumber from the rain
    a flood of incandescence

    she spoke in rivers
    that arid bodies may drink
    she loved the seed
    with tender breach of light
    waxing stone
    with touch of grace mirada

    strong medicine
    burn the pale
    peel night
    touch crevasse heart
    of hand blood
    seeps awake
    the ancient
    till the tide
    to honor night

    ching-in sonia sanchez

  8. clarissa rojas Says:

    prompt: come morning walls melt

  9. clarissa rojas Says:

    the drum.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXkdDhGgoJk&feature=player_embedded#at=99

  10. Evangeline Says:

    to my lover
    my buried body I come
    from the exorcism trains
    ghost touching and living tremble
    from daylights down humid that do not know shame
    I was born without the proper name
    a dropped mouth with a shirtless grammar
    that you couldn’t pronounce
    twined trumpet rhythm and books
    forbidden exist that you couldn’t understand
    say what you love
    in this gong alley
    in this violent light
    leave me with words I wish to make love touching


    with words from Ching-In, Carol, Rachelle, Todd, Hari, Bushra, Jericho Brown, Hayan Charara, Santee Frazier.

    Thank you to all for your beauty and light, and thank you, especially, Ching-In, for birthing this community!

    In honor of our sacred space here, my prompt today has to do with spaces of art that face challenges and find ways to survive. This is a trailer from the documentary, “Unfinished Spaces,” on the National Schools of Art in Cuba.


  11. serena w. lin Says:

    “You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.” – Mary Oliver via beautiful words – http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/220899054589810/

    (via Hari Malagayo Alluri)

    But without these stones
    behind me
    How would I know?
    That I have loved…

    Gratitude — to ALL and thank-you to Ching-In.

  12. yael v. Says:

    My nightgown is for practice.

    The hope unfurling that you will wash my hair.

    A dyed in the moss queer, sick of getting

    treated, of all the sharp stones I don’t deserve.

    I refused all stupid crawling, so how am

    still dirty, my king? How are you feathered,

    shirtless bright elation. How you cup my ears

    in warm streaming water like a jam carried away

    by sad seattle band. My sweet human elixir

    if you touched one finger to my sleeve, I would heal.

    If you stayed, I would make such an offering:

    Let me feed you out of my own hands: crack open

    dungeness shell, crush orange eggs on wet rice,

    tear to pieces banana leaf pack. My ladykiller’s lady

    all legs pelvis heat in my dark mind

    bloody can floating downriver in my dark mind

    you must take even the weakest morsel

    Won’t you be my woman for a woman like me.


    Constructed from the words of: Ching-In Chen, Carol Gomez, Meena Alexander, Rachelle Cruz, Hari Malagayo Alluri, Mary Oliver, Robert Hayden, The Icicle Works.

    Dear everyone, being a part of this project with all of you has been such a joy. I’ve looked forward to reading your words every day, and am so happy to have shared this space with you. Thank you all for your words and light. And thanks especially to Ching-In for starting everything and bringing us all together. xoxo, yael

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