Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Titling Yuh-Shioh Wong’s Paintings

We met in Marfa, Texas when I was on a Lannan Fellowship and Yuh-Shioh was painting in Marfa Book Company’s gallery provided by Tim Johnson. Murder Prevention was how I thought of her work when watching brows soften on anyone who walked into the gallery. All who visited felt the soft penetrating light of her paintings enter us to recalibrate our tools for examining the human condition. She shows us art can provide autonomous worldviews beyond formally designed perimeters of culture, letting us be free in the internal terra incognito.

We became friends and on one trip to an ancient petroglyph cave we were looking at bite marks on cactus made by javelinas. I said, “Javelinas are made out of cactus because that’s what they eat.” She asked if she could name one of her paintings this. A few months later when I was on a Tripwire residency provided by David Buuck in Oakland, Yuh-Shioh invited me to her house in Berkeley to name the other paintings from the new Marfa collection.

We spent eight hours with Yuh-Shioh bringing paintings out one at a time, perched on rocks against the
wall. I would meditate with cactus quartz, known as a collaboration stone, then hand it to her as I approached the painting with my deck of Dakini Oracle tarot cards, rosemary, lavender and Mercury’s fennel sprig in my hair. We built the concentration, always in the room together, and I would stand with the cards close to the painting, then cut the deck nine times. Of the sixty-five cards, only five kept repeating, and I would sit at my computer to begin hammering out a block of text. The title usually appeared at the end of a text block. I would read it aloud and it always connected. For instance, “framing vapor of the departed” came at the end of a text block and Yuh-Shioh explained that this painting was created after an encounter with a ghost in the house where she was staying in Marfa. The eight hours we spent for the titling ritual was the opposite of draining as we burned Palo Santo wood chips and used Steve Halpern’s DEEP THETA music as a trance vehicle. It was an honor to collaborate with an artist creating some of the most astonishing paintings I have ever felt enter me to transform me.

Title samples:

flying over the transmutation of the quiet

stethoscope to the petroglyph

the horns in the distance when we leave for the mountains

thinking with the longbow

bending the muscle of light

calling across the watermelon field for you

Monday, April 21, 2014

#102: Saguaro Assimilations

a collaborative (Soma)tic by CAConrad & TC Tolbert

Deep inside the Saguaro forest outside Tucson we chose a saguaro cactus and chaparral shrub to sit between. Selenite crystal in the sand between us to thaw etheric blockages, we burned sage for one another, then pressed our foreheads together while holding each other’s temples. We hummed low, loud, extended OM vibrations, the selenite directly under our joined heads. Then took notes.

We took turns imagining someone we had conflict with then danced around the cactus while the other took notes. The dance of conflict around the cactus combined with short, tender interactions touching between the thorns, combing hair with thorns and pulling the conflict to the surface. Then more notes. 

The chaparral shrub touching the cactus was in bloom. Chaparral has been used for centuries as a deep blood cleanser, said to even rid the body of cancer. We were continuing our conflict dance, gazing into a small yellow flower with the face of the person troubling us then we would eat the flower, slowly chewing while writing.

The fourth movement was choosing a cloud. Locating it, we would think of someone we loved who died. As the cloud moved we chanted their name, chanted over and over, and then morphed that chanted name into the name of the person we are in conflict with, chanting, chanting, then writing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


 for Selah Anne Saterstrom 



Thursday, April 10, 2014



Saturday, April 5, 2014

these are from the
FULL MOON HAWK APPLICATION chapbook (Assless Chaps)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

#101: FLYING KILLER ROBOTS PLEASE: A Proper Naming (Soma)tic Ritual

for Mary Kalyna, dedicated activist, musician, and dear friend

OM is alive and well in the United States with more people than ever taking yoga and learning to
meditate. OM chanted will vibrate through the body, quivering cells to attention. OM calms us, embracing a sympathetic frequency. In the Bhadgavad Gita it is written, “There is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple but deeply philosophical sound.” The Pentagon in Washington DC spends many millions of dollars on careful research for quality language to sell us the newest, shiny products for the war machine.

While on a residency at Machine Project in Los Angeles I sat with eyes closed and slowly, deeply chanted DRONE, DRONE, DRONE, feeling the ancient tone quiet me. After fifteen minutes I moved from a merely unflustered state to serenity. I chanted, DRONE, DRONE, DRONE. I went out to the corner of Sunset and Alvarado to ask people at traffic lights, “Excuse me, would you please join me in calling drones what they really are: Flying Killer Robots?” Some people thought I was crazy, but MOST PEOPLE wanted to talk, already aware of the power of chanting OM. I asked them to chant DRONE with me to feel how war and greed infiltrate our bodies, trading common sense of justice and love for domination and annihilation. Please join me in calling drones what they really are: Flying Killer Robots.

I have relatives currently serving in Afghanistan, and my family like all U.S. military families worries. Drones answer their suffering. First the sound hooks us, saying drone, feeling drone, but then it drags us into the follow-up sales pitch of how drones save American lives, no soldiers needed. Just let the robots do the killing. It’s a sensible argument. If you can avoid televised footage of the thousands of real live human bodies being obliterated from the sky you can sleep better. The hypnosis of war is being perfected by the hour, but we must resist their language for our murderous sleeper trance. Resist their language, we must RESIST!

I walked into Echo Park and drew a target on my left palm with red ink. I put on headphones to listen to a recording of an Israeli military mission in Gaza called “Pillar of Cloud”, a fleet of drones BUZZING in the sky 24 hours a day mixed with bombs whistling through the sky, exploding targets. Listening to the recording as loud as I could, I chanted drone, drone, drone, taking notes at the water’s edge. At the sound of each explosion I put my lips near the red target on my palm and screamed as loud as I could. SCREAMED while writing notes for my poem. Each explosion snuffing out lives as I SCREAMED into my palm, the red target drawn through my love line, my heart line, my life line, writing, chanting, screaming. How much time do we have left to change?