Terry Wolverton: Douglas, I first spoke with you about the dis•articulations project at the opening for “Oasis,” an art exhibition at Descanso Gardens in which poets and artists made work that responded to the landscape. I described to you how each month I was asking a different Los Angeles poet to collaborate with me on a series of exchanges that would result in new poems by both of us. The process was this: We would each find four poetry prompts in the media (print, broadcast or social), something we did not generate. We would exchange those prompts and use them to do four different segments of “fevered writing” (timed writing, without specific intention, a word spill for 3 minutes.) Then we would exchange the fevered writing, and write new poems using the words given to us by the other. So your poem would be comprised of words I had given you; my poem would be comprised of words you had given me. We didn’t have to use every word we were given, but we couldn’t add any words.

I remember feeling shy about asking whether you might consider participating, and was over-the-moon thrilled when you said you would. What made you decide to say yes?


Douglas Kearney: We’ve known each other for a minute, Terry, and I remember fondly our discussion about your adaptation of Embers for opera. I think it gave us an insight into each other’s ways of approaching language. At the time of your invitation, if I recall correctly, I had been kind of off-the-grid, locally. Holed up. It was a good way to get back out with someone I respect but hadn’t worked with in a creative capacity for some time.

I mentioned at a Dis•Articulations reading that I connected the approach to sample chopping—like say, Bob James’ “Nautilus” as sampled by 9th Wonder on “Murray’s Revenge.” Were you drawing the project frame from any particular aesthetic traditions?

we’ve places in our properties for them,
lots for growing them into lots more for us.
in the places, there, we can watch them,
our faces like hands having want. we, beaten

by a cooler outside, said they got a coat kind-of-
a-skin sewn up on their body until—beaten
by the cooler outside—we slip them out it
to wear it on us and so we

are we, for we wear their skin for us.

Janky Mojo

By Terry Wolverton


I came in with janky mojo,
head peppered with hard thoughts,
face painted with Kaiju’s blood,
skeleton in a spooky suit.

Who was that vampire in a red cape,
its song tracing through my pulse,
heckling my impatient choices,
talking shit about God?

When did I become a cold machine
that breathes frost and coughs dust?
My bone cage jumps
in the attic of my disappointment.

Food Pantry

By Soo Na Pak


Pack belly full of rotund cannot get in the way
Cannot drown or starve or die or be missed
Cannot be overlooked

Shields against the hunger
There is no
Shield against the hunger

Food pantry, rotting produce
Long lines, old white women holding clipboards
Bored-looking volunteers with
dark hair and judging eyes


Hi Ellyn,

Hi backatcha!


Tell us about your background.

As an incredibly shy kid growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I expressed myself through writing early in life. I scribbled stories about going to California and meeting Barry Manilow, I never imagined reading this work aloud.  I mean, I was too timid to order in restaurants or even to ask where the bathroom was.  My shyness, in part, stemmed from having a hyper-critical father (luckily my mother was loving and supportive), a proverbial dysfunctional family in general, and from enduring classmates’ criticism that I was “an unusual-looking girl.”


By Ellyn Maybe


I wanted to feel the music of your shoulders
Watch the tension of C.D. turn to 8 track
I read your nonfiction – if that’s not a crush, what is.

You live twenty years away from Richie Havens turning up at a café.
I watch the liner notes of your wrists like a fortune teller.
Jerome Robbins choreographs your neighborhood with a pale peony.

First, attach yourself to the sky.
Go to the furthest edge of city, violet,
Starstruck, closer to god. Not everyone
Has the heart for it. Some hearts are less red.

Find yourself a cloud kingdom. Don’t
Come down easily, stay up in that thin air.
Don’t think about how you can’t breathe.
People have not breathed here for 11,000 years.



What are three things you want the reader to know about GHOST / LANDSCAPE?

KMD: In the poems, you’ll find a bank robbery, a lock on the door, and a freezer we keep forgetting we keep in the basement. One (and only one) of these things is real.

Now that you’ve entered the landscape, don’t follow the paths that seem most clearly marked. They’ll lead you further away from the guesthouse (and the truth about the ghost).

Lastly, and most importantly, the conference we keep referring to was really an elaborate cover-up. Even the panels were just for show.

JG: Things keep changing, you know? One moment the news is on, and it’s such very bad news from so many quarters (1). And then you’re shopping for new shoes (2). Both of these things are honest and true things about living in the world (3).

I was reading something the other day (you might’ve seen it; it was passed around facebook) arguing against the current conception of empathy, that it’s too easily swayed by individuals in crisis and not enough by long-term goals. And it reminded me of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Riker gets turned into a god, and loses his capacity for empathy. Like most things, it’s a negotiation.

I tried to phone you, but we’d reached the very edge of the meadow. Now a felled tree, some thistle. It all reminds me of a book I read, the one where the field only seems endless.

In the book, everything’s haunted, even the flowers. Especially the flowers. And the chapters aren’t numbered, so you forget exactly where you are, and where you placed the key to the room that holds all of your things from childhood.

Future Angeles

By Zoe Tambling


With my fuck tank full
I keep the sun down
And the air on

I show grief in future Angeles by touching all the expensive pants on the rack
A man says macramé about my dress, then looks closer
No just knotted

On a map I see it’s a descent
Below eighth
It just keeps going
Where were you
That time
Eating dumplings


Who was your favorite teacher growing up?

I’ve always thought of high school or college teachers, but since you said, “growing up,” specifically, I thought of Miss Jackson, my school librarian. I still remember the day she let me graduate from “easy to read” books to “red tape” books (which were marked with red tape on the spines to indicate a higher grade level). It opened the world for me, and I’m forever grateful.

My favorite part of the act wasn’t the sparkle of red sequins,
the skimming of satin skirt flirting with thigh. I loved

the knife thwack, the shudder of pearl handle vibrating
when the blade landed true. I loved cartwheeling in space

when you spun the wheel, our love every day a game
of roulette, praying to always land on black but wearing

red just in case. I lived for you tying the blindfold, the whisper,
I love you as you fastened the manacles secure. Each second

a precarious balance between trust and chance.

The Hunter

By Magdalen Powers


The wild animal
in our bed

always leaves
before dawn.





By George Wallace


I am the hand grenade
your daddy should’ve
jumped on, back in ‘43,
to save his buddies,
the snipers nest in
Fallujah, I am the lost
platoon, the lost soldier