so the cops shut me down on the Alaska (Soma)tic at the airport
they ran me off
I came back, they ran me off again
the 3rd time they cuffed me and searched me in a special little room
PLAN B for ALASKA coming soon
in the MEANTIME
I'm driving to Tucson starting Monday, August 11
reading John Wieners poems at truck stops
in men's rooms
reading to as many folks as I can find in our beautiful country
and getting signatures for this petition
The Mona Lisa was wrapped in fine red satin and sealed in a
specially designed wooden box before being transported to the countryside in
1939.Art in the middle of war needs
dedicated stewards to keep it hidden from invaders.Even with the most trusted well-trained
people a museum’s curators and other staff can fall prey to enemy gunfire, poison
gas or drone attacks.You are in the
museum alone at night and the staff’s dead bodies are stacked in the
basement.You have a chance to save one
piece of art before the looting begins, what do you save?What are your criteria for choosing which to
save, because it’s the most valuable, the most popular, because it’s your
favorite, or what?Take notes.
(Soma)tic poetry rituals provide a window into the creative
viability of everything around us, initiating an extreme present.Documentary notes are not important; in fact
the movements we make inside the ritual inform the way the notes come out of us,
no need for exacting detail.Take notes
as fast as you can, faster than you can think about what you are writing.Later type the notes into a single document,
print it out then carry it around to extract lines and words to shape your poem.Approach your chosen work of art, thinking
about the safest way to remove it from its mount on the wall or floor.What tools do you imagine needing?Stop to take more notes.You will live with it hidden in your attic or
as a lover under the covers next to you.How will it feel seeing this coveted object each day?Take notes.
Create a password for your hidden art by first choosing an
ancient god or goddess.What is your favorite home appliance? Think of the
nights you turn them all on to sit and listen in the dark for the most pleasing
of the chorus. Combine the god to the
appliance, like Jupiter Egg Beater. Take
notes. Go into a stall in one of the
museum restrooms and write the password onto your naked flesh. Take notes.
Write it again harder, then harder.
Take more notes. Walk up to a stranger
and say the password. Just say it. How do they react? Take more notes.
my suitcase packed and ready to go I WILL BE THERE FOR 7 HOURS A DAY FOR 7 DAYS writing for this new (Soma)tic poetry ritual or until I get a ticket and go directly to security to check my bag of clean socks crystals rice cakes MUJI pens and notepads ONE WAY OR THE OTHER I WILL WRITE POEMS FOR MY FUTURE WILDERNESS PROJECT which is the followup to my new book ECODEVIANCE forthcoming in September
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.
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.
writing the letter of your life in the clearing
flying over the transmutation of the quiet
stethoscope to the petroglyph
the horns in the distance when we leave for the
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.
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?
--for Zoe Leonard
“I’m trying to reclaim the center for weirdness.”
We were given permission from the Chinati Foundation to do a collaborative (Soma)tic with Zoe Leonard’s camera obscura, 100 North Nevill Street, in beautiful Marfa, Texas. (Thank you Rob Weiner!) We arrived a few hours before sunset. The interior of the old ice factory was transformed for
this artwork, so that a carefully installed lens projected an image of the world outside onto the entire back wall of the factory, upside-down and backwards. We took turns, one of us outside burning dried piñon pine twigs and needles while the other was inside dancing dancing DANCING!! Piñon incense was traditionally used for protection, and for exorcism, dancing dancing DANCING!! We then took notes for our poems.
We sang a deep OM together several times. Then we took turns singing to one another, facing the slowly waving grasses and clouds on the wall. We took notes. There is a ladder against the wall inside the projected image that appears to go UP to the ground.
We climbed from sky to earth to read 9 poems on the 9th rung by 9 living poets. We read directly into a bar of dark chocolate filled with roasted almonds and sea salt. The poets were: John Taggart, Elizabeth Willis, Linh Dinh, Mel Nichols, Dolores Dorantes (translated by Jen Hofer), Ed Roberson, Farid Matuk, Peter Gizzi, Hoa Nguyen.
We then took turns sitting against the wall inside Zoe’s projected image eating our half of the chocolate bar while blindfolded, listening to the other talk a stream of consciousness from across the room. This is what we said to one another:
CA said: Tim you showed me the cave outside Marfa with the ancient petroglyphs it matters that it’s upside-down and backwards in here it’s the right side for time travel the people who drew those paintings a thousand years ago must have come through what is now Marfa the trees are pointing down at you Tim it’s beautiful this building used to be an ice factory back when people had ice boxes a block of ice in the refrigerator but I can’t imagine how the ice was made in the factory chocolate almonds and sea salt were probably harder to find in the store here comes a train the boxcars read Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe upside-down Santa Fe in another dimension this used to be the ice factory they didn’t have penguins to breathe ice the idea of changing an element’s structure taking water and transmuting it to ice solid and cold the clouds at your feet Tim water to vapor heat but it’s often not so warm where they float one thing I really hated about seeing the movie GIANT again recently is the bullshit about the beautiful innocent bright northerner Elizabeth Taylor coming down to teach her rugged stupid Texan husband about his racism to not be racist what a bunch of bullshit I’m so tired of the north for over a century pretending that they are not racist that they were never racist I grew up in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania is tied with Mississippi for Ku Klux Klan membership that’s not made up that’s a fact and everyone has to admit it’s always been about class it wasn’t poor white people buying giant ships to kidnap African’s from their homeland and bringing them here in chains it was rich white men who didn’t want to have to pay someone to pick their cotton they wanted free labor and it wasn’t poor people in New York City selling the cotton to Europe it was always rich people who were the problem it was the problem back then and it’s the problem now rich people putting factories in the poorest nations to make things next to free laying off workers here because they have demanded fairer wages there must be another planet without rich people exploiting the rest of us it’s like we can feel the possibility inside Zoe’s art
Tim said: Nothing is off topic or unconnected to this work the trains and cars visible in the work and the roads they travel are linked to other places, both North and South, US, Mexico, Canada, farther, and so the work may carry our thoughts to these places. There is a here that is visible, the outbuildings, telephone cross-timbers, power lines, trees, and there is an elsewhere that enters that place and changes it: the trains, cars, their cargo, travelers. There is also the size of this room, and its previous uses of the space: namely, factory uses, storage, rock concerts, exhibitions and their crowds. Two people now, hundreds formerly. Also, and important: Zoe asked to have the interior walls removed, so she could use the whole space, one building for one artist, as it is for the other artists at Chinati. This way she was able to include a large view of what’s outside: a really wide view. Plus the structure of the building is clear. The beams are visible as the floor, doors and windows. Still, the history of the building, it previous uses, such as ice-making, aren’t visible, but they survive in stories, questions and curiosity. Also, the interests of Judd, to bring local materials, light and other natural conditions, plus the history and culture of the immediate surroundings into the art, are perhaps more fully accomplished in the work of Zoe’s. Whereas the Chinati is at an edge of town, congruent to it, but not exactly “inside” it, Zoe’s piece includes the middle of town, and not necessarily the most “picturesque” parts. We see the garages, workshops, and so forth.
The speaker stopped when the chocolate bar eater raised their hand that they had enough and were finished chewing. We finished by reading Larry Eigner poems to the setting sun against the wall. We took more notes, notes, Notes!!