I occupied a busy street corner in Asheville,
North Carolina to bless children with bubbles that will make them queer.Not gay and lesbian, but QUEER!Bubbles of course do not have such powers,
bubbles have only the power to be bubbles, and some parents knew that and
thought the whole thing was funny and would say, “That’s cool, I will love my children
no matter what.”I took notes for the
But MOST parents were not happy about Queer
Bubbles at all, “Ooo bubbles, look at the bubbles sweet heart, look at the
pretty bubbles.”I would blow bubbles
for their little hands and say, “These bubbles will assure that your child will
grow up to be a healthy, happy, revolutionary Queer who will help rid the world
of homophobia, misogyny, racism and other forms of stupidity.”Parents pulled away nervously saying “Sorry,
sorry.”One mother abruptly yanked her
blond son’s hand, “C’mon honey ice cream, ice cream!”The boy cried, reaching for the bubbles as
she refused to look in my direction, pulling him from the queering of the
bubbles.Most parents though just said
“Sorry, I’m sorry” as they walked away.I took notes for the poem. The fear of queer will not dissolve with
sorry, the apology is not acceptable, especially if their children grow up to
be queer.Asheville purports to be a
liberal, laid back city, but Queer Bubbles pulled the veil aside for a closer
look.One man said, “Jesus loves
you.”I said, “I don’t think so.”His face screwed up and he yelled “YES HE
DOES!”Jesus loves the queers, isn’t
that nice?And his angry messenger roams
the street to tell us so.WE MUST INSIST
that a redistribution of wealth always include The Love.How can we be there for one another?How can we be assured that everyone gets The
Love?Notes from the ritual became a
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. (Aphrodite Microwave was my password.Nicole Eisenman’s painting Breakupat the ICA in Philadelphia was my focus.How far are the doors from where it hangs?There is a subway entrance just outside the
exit, but what if, and what if, okay, then here we go THIS WAY instead?The notes became a poem titled “NOW THAT THE
PRESENT IS SO ENDANGERED WE CAN STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE.”)
Lavender, roses, dandelions, squash blossoms,
honeysuckle, sitting by flowers is where I waited for the bees.My fingertips to their vibrating furriness,
lightly brushing them, giving them some love as they tirelessly work for their
queen.I have been greeting not denying
my gray hairs, my wrinkling, loosening skin of my half-century vehicle of
flesh.Dear Fred, I am forever seeking
the strength to deserve poetry and if I do not have it some mornings I pretend
I have it until I believe I have it and then I have it.I took notes for the poem.
I pressed the tip of my tongue to the back of
a large bumblebee and fell into the grass with eyes closed to savor the
taste.Blotches on my skin, waning sperm
count, weakening eye sight, looking in the mirror, “I am made of billions of
cells and we are now half way (or more than half way) through the magic of
being alive together.We will leave this
world while living by the strength of poems.”There is a mirror, flowers to smell, bees to pet and taste, and more notes
for the poem.
Dear Fred, sometimes trees clear as I drive
along rivers and I glimpse the veins of our planet pouring over boulders with
green scum and fish.Anne Boyer taught
me the Latin for “learn to die” and I shout to the water “DISCITE MORI!DISCITE MORI!”Bloodletting rivers of us cavort downhill in
a world of distraction.Behind a Frito
Lay truck, imagining the delicious Frito corn chips in boxes and crates as I pass
him on the left to catch his beautiful smile.
Dear Fred, sometimes the bees out here taste
like an insecticide a poet wrote the advertising jingle for.Taking notes for a poem, aging each
second.Horses and new colts race past a
patch of wild violets I found on a clump of sun-warmed earth.This is when I found a hive.I could hear them at first.They must have known I was completely at
ease, landing on my eyebrows and toes, dancing, but no stings.My final goal was to have sex near a hive but
my boyfriend Rich backed out at the last minute.I placed an add, “Queer seeks man for sex
next to beehive.”Some responders said
they would have sex with me in the woods, but minus the beehive, and one said I
sounded weird and he had to meet me.So
I was on my own, masturbating next to the purring honeycomb. They were curious
of my activity dancing on my shoulders and thighs, but no stings.It took me five decades to have sex with
bees.That’s too long to wait.My notes became a poem about horses titled
“Bug I Love You.”
We poets have been the ugly cousins of the arts for years,
painters asking us to write poems serenading their paintings.Collaboration
can mean creating together, but it can also mean being a traitor and working
with the enemy.Let us honor the first
of these definitions.
(Soma)tic Rituals can fuse with any artistic discipline.For instance, the poet creates half the
ritual, the painter the other half.The
two halves are then combined to make one ritual we both perform together to write
and paint.I have created (Soma)tic
rituals to collaborate with such artists as Candice Lin, Yuh-Shioh Wong, Jonas
Slonacker, and others.
Here is an example.The poet and the painter deposit letters for one another inside
newspaper boxes on opposite sides of a street.We wave to one another then begin reading the letters, which explain the
ways we would like to die.Found in the
morning on the floor of a boat after being impaled in the chest by a swordfish
while night fishing.Or fragment of my bloody
shirt found after having sex with lions.We read our letters then begin writing or painting in view of each
An hour later we meet in the middle of the street to embrace
and dance the Foxtrot with the painter leading, then switching with the poet
leading.We return to write and paint
within view of one another.The
experiential collaboration of (Soma)tic Rituals has infinite possibilities and
there is no reason for poets to ever again subjugate ourselves to other artists.
What’s death and destruction got to do with your art?
“From Whitman to WalMart” is a new poem I am writing where I start at Whitman’s doorstep viewing him as head cheerleader of empire with his essays calling African Americans “baboons” and his poem for the western pioneers written during the great extermination of Native Americans. 80% of WalMart stores allow sleeping overnight in their parking lots, which I do, meeting homeless families stretching across America, the true results of Whitman’s love of Manifest Destiny. I show Whitman’s writing as the original TV commercial hiding the true body of unbridled greed that continues to destroy everyone and everything in its path. I refer to myself as an intestinal expatriate poet.
“Resurrect Extinct Vibration” is another new poem. In this one I saturate myself with field recordings of recently extinct birds and animals while taking long naps on the earth across America. I begin writing as soon as I wake, but in the sleeping I return the vibrations of these creatures to my cells, viewing a degraded ecology as vibrational absence along with its poisoned air, water and soil. In September 2014 the World Wildlife Fund’s biennial “planet index report” claims 52% of wild animals have vanished in the past three decades. I am accepting and recording the sixth mass extinction currently underway.
Since 2006 I have stopped cutting my hair as both a reminder that my nation is at war and to use as a measuring device for the latest body count for a long poem now over 3,000 pages long. We are currently bombing six nations simultaneously where we were bombing two when I started.
To directly answer your question: everything. I am a queer American who had a boyfriend I loved but someone bound, gagged, tortured and raped him, then covered him in gasoline and burned him to death. His name was Mark. He changed his name to Earth. He was beautiful. Do not forget this. The artist Jason Dodge published my serial poem about this that you can read to not forget at fivehundredplaces.com
What’s philosophy got to do with your art?
Well I believe poetry is strong enough.The power of poetry has not failed me like it
has failed some poets in recent decades who hoist philosophy to buttress the
poem.It feels misogynistic in a way,
like poetry is too feminine, too weak, needs a man’s ideas to move
forward.Love philosophy -- go ahead,
I’m not an anti-intellectual I simply don’t need it to make poetry appear more
Sigmund Freud said, “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been
there before me.”Not philosopher, but
poet.And you can have whatever feelings
you want about Freud but no one can disagree that he changed how we view the
landscape of human emotion and the origins of feeling.“Everywhere I go” is bold.It’s direct and from a man who was as careful
with his words as a poet.
In a Kansas field
I spent several hours burying my feet in the soil while listening to the
insects, birds and cars on the highway beyond the trees.I was born January 1st 1966 at the
838th Tactical Hospital, Forbes Air Force Base of Topeka
Kansas.My mother said the doctor held
me by my ankles and announced, “ANOTHER FINE SOLDIER FOR JESUS!”And I say FUCK YOU to those first words said
to me!My mother ate food grown on this
land when I was inside her; we drank from the same aquifer, the sky was as big as
it is today.I took notes for the poem.
I dug a hole and deposited shit, piss, vomit, blood, phlegm, hair, skin,
fingernails, semen and tears, and in that order. I apologized for being alive.
I apologized for
the animals I shot and killed to prove I could provide dinner.I apologized for having no answers on how to
stop the hyper-militarized police on the streets of America while the US
military is on the streets of Arab nations. I apologized for paying taxes that
purchase the bullets, bombs and drones.I am a citizen of the United States my nation is guilty of war
crimes.I apologized for not convincing
my queer sisters and brothers that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was only putting a sympathetic face on a
multi-trillion dollar military industrial complex.I apologized for not finding a way to protect
Chelsea Manning.I apologized for not
preventing my boyfriend Mark from moving to Tennessee where his murderers
awaited.I am a citizen of the United
States my nation is guilty of hate crimes.I apologized for many things for a long while then covered the hole with my offerings and
took more notes for my poem.
MY DIARY IS UP FOR AUCTION AT THIS LINK (a RADAR fundraiser)
A few people have written to me about my “From Whitman to
WalMart” (Soma)tic poetry ritual I am currently doing.
Part of the ritual involves sleeping in my car in WalMart
Some poets have written saying they also want to do this.
Please let me share some information with you.
80% of WalMarts allow parking to sleep, but make sure you
are parking in one of the 80% that allows this.
Always sleep in the drivers seat.
Always have the windows all the way up.
Always have keys in the ignition READY to go.
Please ALWAYS park so you have a straight shot out of there,
and please don’t ever park so that you
need to back out.
I made the mistake of parking at a WalMart among the 20% that
doesn’t allow parking to sleep and I woke to find a group of men (I don’t know
if it was five or six of them) around the car looking in the window at 3 in the
One of them had either a baseball bat or 2X4.
But in just a second I pulled myself forward with the
steering wheel, turned the ignition and floored the gas to get out of there.
Close calls are part of living on the road and should be
Please consider my advice because you never know…
Also it is important to have conversations with the other
people parking to sleep because most tend to want to talk, especially the
The retired folks parking their campers and RVs seem less
interested in talking, but the homeless, especially the homeless families want
to talk because they share information with one another about how to survive out
For the better part of 1970 my mother and I lived in our
I keep trying to think if it was easier then or now and my
conclusion is that it’s a little of both for both.
If you get a WalMart that allows sleeping you are safe so
far in my experience.
In 1970 my job was to take care of the can opener.
The can opener was a valuable tool back then but not so much
for my life today.
Restrooms are much nicer today of course.
In 1970 gas station bathrooms had a kind of abrasive, toxic
powdered soap that came out of a dispenser and it seemed to take a lot of water
to remove the oily film it left on your body.
There were far less cars back then and it seemed easier to
sleep in out of the way locations.
My one cousin in the army is giving me a camouflage net to
throw over my car so I can park off-road and this is not ideal of course, but
might be useful.
I hate to make this JUST about survival because it is a
beautiful thing to be living on the road, meeting new people, stretching across
the belly of the planet.
I went to a sports bar during SUPERBOWL SUNDAY wearing a
Phillies baseball cap and ordered vodka with orange juice. Every once in awhile I would raise a fist and
yell “GO PHILLIES!” At first people
around my table murmured. Then I was told to shut up while taking my notes
for the poem. I was waiting for the
person in the room who would confront me and I finally found him. AG = Angry Man:
ME:WOO HOO PHILLIES
GO PHILLIES GO GO GO!!
AG:HEY BUDDY WHAT
THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU IT’S THE SUPERBOWL!!
ME:YEAH MAN I KNOW,
WOO HOO HOO HOOOOO GO PHILLIES!!
AG:DUDE ARE YOU
ME:What?HEY MAN this is PHILADELPHIA YOU CAN’T DISS
THE PHILLIES WHEN YOU’RE IN PHILADELPHIA!!
AG:I ROOT FOR THE
PHILLIES WHEN IT’S BASEBALL SEASON DUDE!!
Some of the others had been waiting for the brave man to
confront me so they could be louder with their condemnation.THESE were the men I wanted to look at, the
weak ones, the bottom feeders who need someone with more nerve to step forward
and speak for them before they open their mouths.A brave man has never once frightened
me.Weak men are the danger, always seeking
ways to hide their cowardice at the expense of others.And there they were, all around me, and it
was just like old times.I held out my
hand to the brave man and thanked him.“YOU’RE THANKING ME!?”“Yeah,
thank you.”He shook his head, “Okay
man.”I took more notes and my notes
became a poem.
Celebrity Crystals is a (Soma)tic poetry ritual where clear quartz gems absorb several full-length films of a celebrity, and are then stored in a box lined with their photos. Denzel Washington quartz is underway, currently soaking in the images and sounds of the 2010 film THE BOOK OF ELI.
For over a decade I would see her on the bus or in the
vegetable shop near my apartment, always looking at everyone and everything,
never on the phone or listening to music.
One of those rare people who is truly present, I would see her see me
and when I smiled she always returned the smile. We have observed people and things together
for years, but never met, never talked, not once. We have never heard one another speak. In my journals I refer to her as my déjà vu
friend because seeing her destabilizes my reality the way déjà vu will do.
While house sitting in Philadelphia after many months of
being on the road I went to my old neighborhood in search of her.She was waiting for the number 21 bus and it
was the first time I was getting on with her deliberately.I didn’t want to break our pattern and
introduce myself, so instead I occupied the space as a fellow observer of the
world.I took notes for the poem while
studying the many hair wraps, shirt collars, and a myriad of expressions often
in the same face.After a few blocks our
eyes met as usual but she not only smiled she nodded.When I returned the nod my smile was one of
my favorites because it was for my déjà vu friend.She got off the bus at 36th Street and I
continued to write and observe to 69th Street.
Poet Kenny Goldsmith invited me to perform at
the Museum of Modern Art, but instead of squandering the time and space on YET
ANOTHER poetry reading I turned it into a writing performance ritual for new
poems.After calling a few talented
friends to help me I went to work.Everything
was invented, including the poem that resulted, titled SLAVES OF HOPE LIVE ONLY FOR TOMORROW. I downloaded the MoMA masthead from an online
press release and created a flyer to hand out in the main lobby:A MoMA
EXCLUSIVE, 12:30pm TODAY!THE
REINCARNATED SOUL OF FUTURIST PAINTER GIACOMO BALLA IN THE JOAN AND PRESTON
GALLERY ON THE 6TH FLOOR!PRONTO!INTRODUCED BY CAConrad.
Two security guards tried to stop me from
handing out the flyers.I said, “But I
work for MoMA’s Office of Paranormal Activities.”They said, “There is NO such office!”I said, “It’s in the basement, a little like
X Files for art.”They were much angrier
than necessary and were ready to throw me to the sidewalk when Kenny intervened
just in time to assure them that this was part of my performance.I am not complaining at all by the way as the
one guard was quite handsome, his beautiful flaring nostrils showing that he was
ready for ACTION, ready to put me in my place!How thrilling!
At 12:30 a large crowd gathered.“Thank you all for coming, my name is
CAConrad and I am the director of the Office of Paranormal Activity at
MoMA.I was first hired after the 2008
Wall Street collapse when many of the paintings in this particular gallery were
found stacked neatly in the corner each morning.Security camera footage shows the paintings floating
across the room, most likely carried by the disturbed souls of recently
departed millionaires.After our
successful exorcism I wanted to preserve the integrity and viability of my
office so I found new projects for my staff.One project was to search for the reincarnated soul of Balla whose
paintings surround us today in this gallery as part of the Inventing Abstraction exhibition.It proved to be our most challenging project
to date.After exhausting the efforts of several
psychics we asked MoMA friend and Andy Warhol Superstar Penny Arcade for
help.”I turned to Penny who waved.“Thank you so much Penny for putting us in
touch with your psychic friend in Belize who was our big breakthrough.He told us that the reincarnated soul of
Futurist painter Giacomo Balla was right here in New York City all along.He is now a poet living in Brooklyn named
Ariana Reines!Please welcome Ariana!”
Ariana walked from the applauding crowd to
join me where I asked her what she thought of her paintings from her previous
life as Balla.She said, “Oh I’m a much
better poet in this life than I was a painter in that one.”A few audience members mumbled their
disapproval of the poet daring to measure her different lifetimes of art in
public.I said, “MoMA Honorary Chairman
David Rockefeller was so excited when we finally found you that he and the
board of trustees have graciously offered to let you take one of your paintings
back home with you.Which one would you
like?”She shrugged and said, “Well I
don’t really like them, but the diamond shaped one is nice I suppose.”I said, “Well let’s get that off the wall and
wrap it up for you.”When I walked
toward the painting the handsome nostril flaring guard shook his head with a
scowl.I said, “Ariana Reines is also a
healer.Is there anyone here today who
needs healing?”The poet Stephen Boyer
popped up in a BEAUTIFUL dress he made with plastic flowers from the dollar
store.Ariana had him lie on the floor
below her painting she painted in 1903.She instructed me to work with her to heal Stephen, doing a beautiful
dance with her hands over his head and body, an energy work not unlike Reiki,
chanting.What a marvelous experience
and I feel very fortunate to know the talented poets that I do, the kind of
people who augment the spirit with their very presence.Notes notes notes, I took notes, and the
notes became a poem.