Wednesday, August 22, 2012


--for Hoa & Owen

Having lived with a ghost for more than a decade I knew where he hovered and settled into walls and lights. This is where I aimed my scrying mirror. I sat on the floor with a handheld mirror and a large mirror behind me. The ghost is named Owen. He lived next door and killed himself where my new neighbor brushes his teeth each morning. Owen was 21; he liked books and used to work at Rizzoli’s Bookshop on Broad Street. Since his suicide he has accommodated my often-unquenchable thirst for life and my addiction and sickness for poetry!

Late at night, blocking all light from windows I read to him Hoa Nguyen’s book AS LONG AS TREES LAST. By candlelight I read a poem out loud, saying, “OWEN, THE POEM IS TITLED ‘RAGE SONNET’ AND SOUNDS LIKE THIS….” At the end of each poem I snuffed the candle to peer into the mirror behind me through the handheld mirror. I stared for a long time, dark to dark, then the candlelight again for taking notes. Then the next poem by Hoa, “OWEN, THE POEM IS TITLED ‘I’M STUCK’ AND SOUNDS LIKE THIS….”

Finally there was a face in the mirror. After a long, assiduous stare I saw my face with another behind and above. The last book Owen read when he was alive was MOBY DICK. When I told his mother she said, “That’s a children’s book isn’t it?” I said, “No ma’am, it’s not. Not at all.” Tonight I’m here, with poetry by Hoa Nguyen, being productive with a 10-year suicide, but making sense is the last thing on my mind. By candlelight the note-taking and poem reading, “I have thought for / a dirty starved circle” until the ghost and I were finished, and Hoa was finished. My (Soma)tic notes forming into a poem dedicated to Hoa and Owen. Thank you!!

Friday, August 17, 2012


“I guess I should have closed my eyes when you
drove me to the place where your horses run free.”

Find a plant, tree, some living nonhuman entity you want to communicate with. For me it was a giant sycamore tree in Philadelphia, a tree I’ve known for years. I cleaned my quartz crystal by resting it on a shallow bed of sea salt over night. I touched the tree with my left hand while speaking into my crystal in my right hand, “PLEASE translate any messages my tree friend has for me.” I then touched the tree with my right hand while holding onto the crystal with my left hand. I stayed this way for fifteen minutes, quiet, with eyes closed, letting the communication course through me and into the crystal for processing. My hands grew HOT.

As soon as I opened my eyes I began taking notes. I asked the crystal, “Was there a question for me, please say.” I heard “NOTHING!” The word rang through me. Trees don’t need to ask us anything, but they have plenty to tell us and I let my crystal tell me and let the notes flow out of me. What will it take to recognize the intelligence of such a quiet giant? Years ago I was leaning against the tree, earnestly writing a Frank poem and suddenly looked up into the branches who seemed to shake with no wind, and I HEARD the anger aimed at my pen carving into paper, paper made of tree, wood. There I was, the human carving my own thoughts in my oblivious imperialism. What love do I really have outside my own kind of animal? I took many notes for a poem through the crystal translations of a tree.

(Soma)tics in THE The POETRY Magazine


Tuesday, August 7, 2012


--for Michelle Tea and Ali Liebegott

I attended RADAR Lab writer’s residency in Quintana Roo, Mexico. For 9 consecutive nights I prepared my crystal-infused water dream therapy. Each morning I would implement the final stage of the dream therapy, then I would listen to a different PRINCE album in its entirety: DIRTY MIND, CONTROVERSY, PURPLE RAIN, etc. Lying still with eyes closed, allowing the dream to braid and dissolve inside the musical landscapes of my beautiful, androgynous muse. As soon as the album finished I would write for fifteen minutes, which was not so much a dream-journal as it was a dream-lost-inside-PRINCE-journal.

After breakfast I went down to the beach. Each morning from 9am to noon I would sit in the same place, one foot closer to the tide each morning. On the last day I sat directly in the tidal break with sturdy paper and a pen whose ink imbeds into paper, a pen invented to prevent check fraud. PRINCE may wash my dreams away, but the ocean would not take my poems.

For a few minutes I would close my eyes to listen to the tide. Then I would suddenly open my umbrella and stare at one of its polka dots, each one a different color of the spectrum. After staring at one polka dot for five minutes I would suddenly look out at the beach, coral reef and ocean. The polka dot’s color would show itself in the hue of a broken shell, or be found in the bow of a distant ship. One morning my eyes landed on the white of the umbrella, which is all the space surrounding the polka dots. I decided to go with it. When I tore the umbrella aside I noticed FOR THE FIRST TIME tiny white crabs who made their homes at
the wettest part the sand, continuously washed by the tide. The study of the crabs consumed my morning. One day I looked up from writing to see a hundred yellow butterflies fluttering in a line down the beach above the surf a few feet from my face. The parade of beauty kept me in awe: giant sea turtles, iguanas, and magnificent sea birds. One day I placed my large Lemurian crystal in the sand under the surf. RADAR Lab’s amazing chef Christina Frank sat with me to witness the little silver fish surround the crystal. They LOVED IT! They would ride the surf to the crystal, surround it and KISS IT, ride the tide out, then ride it back in and KISS IT AGAIN!

From 3pm to 6pm I would sit in the bathtub to write. My favorite childhood liquid was FRESCA! I thought it went out of business, but it just moved to Mexico! I drank FRESCA all day long at the residency, and used it for the bathtub meditation, drinking mouthfuls, letting the grapefruit bubbles roil in my mouth while turning the shower on. I would touch the falling water with the tips of my fingers then I would swallow the FRESCA and turn the water off. I would meditate on arguments from the archive of my unforgiving brain. Arguments I had, and arguments by others. Once I heard my mother and sister shouting in another room. My mother yelled, “I SHOULD HAVE ABORTED YOU!” My sister yelled back, “GRANDMOM SHOULD HAVE ABORTED YOU AND WE WOULD ALL BE FREE FROM THIS GODDAMNED MESS!” My mother BURST into tears, my sister left the room with a smile. She saw me and said, “I TOLD HER!” I returned her smile and hugged her saying, “YES you did my dear!” The MOMENT we embraced THE RELIEF of our grandmom’s imaginary abortion WASHED OVER US BOTH! We laughed from so much pain and nonsense for a rolling tide. The brain holds all of our disasters in little, decrepit files marked and mismarked and repeating their vomitus sick, and sometimes a little too quiet from too much damage. These notes became nine poems, my homage to my mother who was not aborted, and to her children who were also not aborted.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


a collaborative (Soma)tic by CAConrad & Ryan Eckes

We created this (Soma)tic exercise together, then performed it separately. Then we wrote the poem together via email. That first poem is “BEFORE ABSINTHE.” Then we spent the evening drinking absinthe together and writing a new poem off the first one, and it’s titled “AFTER ABSINTHE.” Here’s the exercise:

Burn sage over the area where you will be meditating for the exercise. Coat your face with the smoke, infuse your hair, FILL THE ROOM WITH IT!! Place rose quartz over your heart while lying flat on your back, eyes closed. Be quiet and still for ten minutes. Move the rose quartz to your forehead, have pen and paper within reach so that you can begin writing. WRITE down the message your heart told the rose quartz to tell your head. Every single day for five days after writing with the rose quartz, maintain your position on your back to taste a different spice. Dip your finger in cayenne, next day, cinnamon, next day salt, next day oregano, and next day black pepper. By the second day, after writing, notice if the cinnamon sent you in a different direction than the cayenne had taken you. Take your pulse, write more and then prepare for part two.

Go to the internet, find the e-book L&O by Pattie McCarthy and click on FULLSCREEN view. Put your cursor on the page-scroller, close your eyes and randomly move your mouse up and down for a few seconds, stop and open your eyes. The first line that you focus on, remember it. Go outside for a walk to the park, repeating the line to yourself every few seconds. As you walk, try not to think about anything but what's immediately in your view, every few seconds saying the line to yourself. After a minute or so, let the line transform by adding the names for what you see during your walk or by substituting words from the original line with words for the things you see during the walk. As it changes, feel free to sing the line to yourself or whistle it. Once you get to the park, sit down, get comfortable, say the new line to yourself a few times. You can say it like it's a question, then an exclamatory imperative, or however you like. Wait for the first animal that comes near you, seems to look at you, and say the line to the animal. Take notes. Every day, for five days, choose a different line from L&O and walk to a different park, changing the line.