CAConrad :: (soma)tic poetry exercise & poem


                                                                                  –for Hoa Nguyen

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 larger one behind me.  The point is to be able to see the larger mirror behind me with the smaller handheld one.  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 here in beautiful Philadelphia.  He has heard me read many poems by others since his death.  I would say, “OH, Owen, this is beautiful, listen to THIS!”

Late at night, blocking all light from windows I read 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, then above.  Was I imagining this?  I can’t say.  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 my 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, thank you Hoa, thank you Owen!!

let if drive the conversation

                                                                       wings we paint on
                                                                       kite are how we
                                                                       wonder for the sky
                                                                       a bone of shade
                                                                       we get excited and
                                                                       then it’s just another
                                                                       melted popsicle
                                                                       remainder of the
                                                                       sex act is nothing
                                                                       you lean in on me for
                                                                       the coasting
                                                                       reputed to be the best
                                                                       path to take in death
                                   just take it and shut up sleeping in your corpse
                                                      it’s okay to let it happen like this
                                                                you don’t know how to
                                                                need it back and that’s fine
                                                                cardamom tanged lover
                                                                break off little bits for us
                                                                something we can come at again
                                                                right in the face Glock it up man
                                                                all the great leaders pulled
                                                                tonsils extracting some lasting words
                                                                pin us up on the board with
                                                                the rest of your receipts
                                                                I want to hang there
                                                                bathe in the grunts of
                                                                your woeful fraternity
                                                                open the senses and
                                                                let us begin to begin
                                                                let it all belong in here
                                                                sometimes a cock up
                                                                your ass is all it
                                                                takes to get the
                                                                point across
                                                     the made in china
                                              sticker pulled away to
                                                          reveal the made
                                                                    up in your
                                                                head sticker

Additional work by CAConrad also appears in print.