“Origins” Post #21: “Where We Come From”

Where We Come From

      A group poem composed by WCC Poetry Club members
      William Bullard, Monica Cialek, Diane M. Laboda, 
      and Tom Zimmerman

Do blend with me and skew things
Teals and oranges and
Be called boy or girl as temporary
Tugged by moon and burned by sun     

They like the sound of it 
We just don’t pop out looking like  
Dark angels and a forest murmuring  
A family and a traumatic past      

A cooing playful look  
An ocean where I swam and ate  
I come through my imagination   
Fresh again       

I bear a story I should tell 
One thing I do with language 
Seems like something 
Stuck like blinking neon       

I pick up energy 
My very presence  
Could be shuffled back and forth  
It’s all grown deep within me        

I tell people
We get gentler handling
Flying, landing, crying, growing 
From an inner place        

Have one identifying name 
To lean into the wind 
Have an inner body  
Butting up against the terra-cotta       

Who walks beside me, sleeps within my dreams 
My outer mind, my conscious mind, and then the world outside             
The colors in this sunny place
Would carry on their lineage     

“Origins” Post #20: “Why are we fighting right now?”


Why are we fighting right now? Thought experiment: create the universe, introduce one indifferent god. Doesn’t matter who, any old god will do. Give the fledgling god some matter and antimatter to play with. Like a toddler mixing ice cream and Play-Doh, it indiscriminately tosses the two together. Us humans know better than anything else that polar opposites tend to either bond until the universe dissociates, or enslave their entire existence to destroy their demonic counterpart. Matter and antimatter choose the latter. Cumulative nothing bores the god, and it gives the edge to matter. I won’t be too judgmental if you fast forward through the next hundred million years, but don’t miss the first stars to form from the god’s chosen winner. 

Fast forward again, this time 13.8 billion years. Some of the stars decided to blow up and gain consciousness, making their home on a rock known to them as “Earth”. Though recycled ad nauseum since the god first introduced them to its cosmic mixing pot, they never truly forget their roots: the matter that sought only to destroy, to disagree, to contradict. They don’t have a perfect antithesis to wage war against anymore, so they find new ways to divide themselves. They fight amongst themselves, internally and externally. This is why we fight: it is in our nature. Our nature tears us apart, inclines us to destroy, tempts us with the prospect of eternal chaos. But here’s a thought: give these husks of red giants and white dwarves a bit of self-awareness, a dash of introspection, and they’ll start to put their infernal contrarianism to good use. They’ll have a crisis about their violent nature. They’ll use that fiery passion they were cursed with to make amends, to love themselves and their neighbors, to seek joy in creation rather than destruction. It’ll take a lot of work, but they think they’ve got what it takes.

We hope they’re not wrong.


Benjamin Stensen is an aspiring programmer and mathematics enthusiast currently in his second year at Washtenaw Community College. An Illinois native, Ben moved with his mothers and brother to Ann Arbor in 2014, and has been in love with the state since then. If one were to break into Ben’s room, one may find him playing the clarinet and recorder, speedsolving Rubik’s Cubes, learning math, talking with friends and playing video games, or pondering philosophical concepts. Ben will transfer to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor next semester to pursue a degree in computer science. 

“Origins” Post #19: “Kissed by the Polar Vortex”


Kissed by the Polar Vortex

the furnace clicks to life
which marks the prelude
of your coming

and the house groans
with an arthritic sigh

you’re not destructive like a tornado,
an earthquake, or a tsunami, but you
destroy things in tiny moments stretched
out and culminating –
in some extreme cases
you have even stopped hearts,
disturbing the complex rhythm of life

you snarl traffic and French kiss
the roads,
engaging in an erotic dance
that leaves
slippery slopes
frozen for a time

objects get jackknifed especially for you
like a highway sacrifice;
the altar crackles
below degrees
(always the charmer)
within minutes
you make people blush without really trying,
leaving hands deathly cold,
and the cars in driveways
immobile from your touch

everything tastes different when you touch it,
even the air

you’re just too damn cold for words,
so you kiss everything else to stay warm

you’re unexpected,
positively negative
and irrevocably, chill


Cornelius Fortune’s work has appeared in Yahoo News, CinemaBlend, The Advocate, The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Midwest Living, and others. He holds an MA in English Literature and has taught composition, technical writing, as well as poetry and drama. He is a part-time faculty member of WCC.

“Origins” Post #18: “The Future of Man”


The Future of Man

we’ve tripped along in the
dark, touching atoms
into one another,
discovering the
thermodynamic nature
of self, a hot core
boiling over,
making the hard climb
upwards against nature
then sideways across the
mystery of inner-self

a billion neurons,
a billion stars,
tipped at exactly
the right angle

all good stories come
to an end, and ours
will slow to ice,
the sun dimming,
slipping from us
as dreams deferred
to the harsh light
of reality’s lament

another great migration:
taking our arts, culture,
and sports teams with us

and we’ll have to cross
over into a multiverse,
a dark obsidian glass
half full, parted wide
for our eventual arrival


Cornelius Fortune’s work has appeared in Yahoo News, CinemaBlend, The Advocate, The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Midwest Living, and others. He holds an MA in English Literature and has taught composition, technical writing, as well as poetry and drama. He is a part-time faculty member of WCC.

“Origins” Post #16: “2019: The International Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements”


2019: The International Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements

I was forty years old. I had finished three years of math classes at Washtenaw Community College at night school to get ready to transfer to the University of Michigan and study science. It was my first semester back at University of Michigan after over 10 years away. I was taking biology, physics, and chemistry for the first time. Suddenly an important connection happened in my brain and I was excited. “Dad! Everything that happens in the world is due to the movement of electrons!” Dad, ever supportive and enthusiastic, said, “Wow! How are we going to get this word out?”

            150 years ago, Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev had a dream. In it, he saw the connections between atoms that led him to design the periodic table of the elements. The elements form a pattern based on their atomic mass and the electrons they have to contribute to other atoms.

            The human body is made up mainly of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Within me, chemical reactions are taking place all the time. Within a dandelion, tree, beetle, my cat, my best friend, it’s all chemical reactions. How could I think I am separate from this world? There is in reality no invisible wall between me and the world. No, I am made up of the same molecules, using the same oxygen and carbon as everything I see. I am part of everything on the deepest level possible. We all share the atomic world. Hello, world. I see you now.


Olivia Bottum writes, “I have been taking classes at WCC since 1992! I love learning and I love the college. I admire my classmates, working so hard at so many things and doing school too. I am retired from the University of Michigan where I spent my days 900 years in the past working on a dictionary of medieval English.”

“Origins” Post #15: “When the Night Returns”


 When the Night Returns

 On a cold winter night so dark and dim.
 The sun sets leaving the world lost and grim.
 We fear the ones who fly above us in the sky.
 But they are the ones who keep our time passing by.

 They roar their roar of might and fury,
 and they send the ground people running in a hurry.
 They sing in the night their sacred songs.
 They’ll sing every one of them, all night long.
 But late one night you’ll see in a dream,
 These foul beasts are not what they seem.

 They created our sun with their burning fires.
 They grabbed the ground, to rise the mountains higher.
 They planted the trees of the world's oldest groves.
 They filled the beaches with water and sand across every cove.
 They planted the meadows with every single flower.
 And brought upon the world its very first hour.
 They gave us our world, that we lose every day.
 All because we had to chase them away.
 And when our age of freedom had finally begun.
 It was only then we realised what we had done.

 We had no purpose left in sight.
 So we all began to fight.
 And when new creatures had come to save us.
 We pushed them all away in fear that they were dangerous.
 We built our walls to keep out intruders.
 While we gave fools our power and called them rulers.
 We drove away the white wolves of the north.
 And broke our oaths of peace that we had put forth.
 The summer sun has hid away.
 And the magic we once had didn’t want to stay.
 The trees, the flowers, the grass had begun to die.
 And the sky turned grey as it began to cry.
 We pulled the snow off the mountain peaks.
 And soon our world began to look very bleak.

 So when the night returns and we keep our heads held high.
 We will not run, we will not fight, when they return to rule the sky
 And when they finally return with all their might.
 The dragons we once feared will once again protect us, when they return in    
 the night.


Noah Englehart writes, “I am 18 years old, I am a freshman at WCC, and I’m currently working towards an associates in English and eventually a bachelor’s in creative writing. I am an aspiring fantasy writer. My passions are reading, writing, music, film, the general arts, and dragons.”

“Origins Post” #14: “Am I My Own Muse?”


Am I My Own Muse?

_____I wake up everyday humbled that I am just a person.
_____I don’t want to be just a person; I want to be a woman with life’s answers. I want
to contain Galaxies.
_____I was born when the Moon was New; hidden from Her glory- a cosmic irony.
_____Only the Ocean shows no difference in Her absence, spring tides roar through
the night, defiant and unruly as ever. I lie awake at night, wondering: who does the
Ocean love more? The Moon whose loyalty is unwavering, or the shore they try so hard
to kiss?
_____I have so many questions for someone who has lived so much and so little.
_____New Moon’s bring new beginnings with a vengeance and can only be harnessed
by the most wild witches of old.
_____I was born when the Moon was New, but I don’t want to stay hidden. I want to
shine so brightly that I’m mistaken for the Sun.

_____I’ve died many times in this life, fallen to chaos once or twice.
_____I still have so many questions for someone who’s survived it all.
_____Is it our hearts or our brains that make it so that we can love people so deeply?
_____Why can I fall in love with a gentle touch, but never be inspired by it?
_____Why can I love someone until the end of the Earth, but hate them even more if
they betray me?
_____Always trustworthy, why do I never trust anyone as much as my own shadow?
_____Why do lonely people try the hardest to keep others away?
_____Why do I feel like older isn’t wiser, and the minds of children truly do have all of
life’s answers?
_____Where do we go when we fall asleep? Where do we go when the Moon is Full?
_____I was born when the Moon was New, and I still don’t understand if the tides are in mourning when she’s hidden, or don’t notice, but still roar their loyalty to Her anyway.
_____I was born on a New Moon; and no, the irony doesn’t escape me. I am humbled
daily that I am only a person, but I am trying to be more hopeful.
_____I am becoming a woman who contains galaxies.


Alex Arzooyan is a creative writing student at WCC; she loves to explore the mystical feminine in her poetry.

“Origins” Post #13: “Unspoken Names”


 Unspoken Names 
 We rarely have one identifying name 
 when we are born unless the parents are 
 diligent, sonogram carrying, OCD creatures.
 We just don’t pop out looking like
 an Archibald or Sebastian. We don’t.
 We can be called boy or girl as temporary 
 fill-ins with the last name of the parents.
 We could be shuffled back and forth
 with labels based on volume, like “Screamer”
 or heft, like “Chubs.”
 The nurses know each label by heart
 while they toss us around the nursery
 like plump, pink footballs. We get gentler 
 handling from the parents who always seem
 afraid they’ll break us, who coo nonsense.
 There are always onlookers who, having bundles 
 of their own to gloat over, pick favorites from the rest, 
 shunning those whose head’s too big, whose leg’s 
 too sausage-like. For these voyeurs the tiny faces 
 across the glass have unspoken names.
 For this one, a wrinkled up nose calls up contempt;
 for that one, a pitying sigh frames ugliness,
 a cooing playful look goes out to the tow-head, 
 a snarl for the wrinkled Shar Pei look. And some 
 are just passively passed over as sleepy little “duds.”
 But no matter what they’re called, each child goes home
 with a list of unspoken names—the ones the parents 
 thought up and rejected, the ones grandparents hoped 
 would carry on their lineage, and ones no one dared speak
 in case they stuck like blinking neon.


Diane M. Laboda is a former teacher-librarian and retired WCC executive assistant. She enjoys exploring life’s mysteries and sharing with others in her writing and artwork. She’s published poetry, short stories, articles, and photos in literary journals and anthologies both online and in print. She has published two chapbooks, Facing the Mirror and This Poet’s Journey, and is working on her first book-length collection of poetry on grief and care giving.

“Origins” Post #12: “Ghost Lands”


 Ghost Lands

 I was driving with a fever on a road 
 I have driven on for forty-five years, 
 a road I used to play chicken on with myself, 
 barreling as fast as I could in the dark, headlights off.  
 That land is no longer trees and marsh, 
 has grown many large rectangular houses, 
 thick with their own importance and grandeur. 
 As a dirt road it was my haven, though I was burning 
 oil to get there to watch the herons and red-winged 
 blackbirds flare up in swoops at the sound of the car.
 There was one house, tucked into the trees, 
 massive oaks and maples by the road - 
 willows at either side of the house where the waters pooled. 
 The trees braided themselves together over the road
 and for several hundred feet there was a tunneled arbor. 
 I drove there just to slowly pass through those shadows, which are now       
 This is Michigan, so our kind have been building houses here for scarcely 
 three hundred years. I was seeing ghosts from before then, 
 could feel their lovely bulk hovering above the earth. 
 I’ve only seen a human ghost once, but have heard them more often, 
 whispering comfort in my ear. These ghosts wanted only to be remembered. 
 They were once swaying, rooted in this world. 

 As a girl at sleepovers, I’d be one of nine girls in the dark. 
 I’d give tarot readings. With only our pointer fingers underneath 
 one girl’s body, we’d take turns lifting each other slowly into the air. 
 In the seances I led, we’d recite the Lord’s Prayer for protection, 
 then work to channel what could come, usually someone’s grandmother. 
 Twice it was Paul McCartney, who we worried was dead. He wasn’t, 
 but that didn’t stop Laura from swaying dangerously 
 and garbling messages about isolation and betrayal. 

 A few years later, I almost became a ghost myself, 
 hurtling towards the trees I loved. I don’t know if 
 it is their memories of life or my longing for them that I see, 
 but I can almost hear their roots soaking up the dark food of earth, 
 the water that was everywhere then. I remember their thick bodies 
 reaching up to the sky, the interlacing of their limbs and leaves. 
 To be a ghost is simple – love this world enough to waver at leaving it. 


Maryam‘s bio: Married mother, lives in woods, writes.