(Soma)tic 21: Touch Yourself for Art, by CAConrad

—For Penny Arcade

There must be a piece of art near where you live that you enjoy, even LOVE! A piece of art that IF THERE WAS WAR you would steal it and hide it in your little apartment. I’m going to PACK my apartment TO THE ROOF when war comes! This exercise needs 7 days, but not 7 consecutive days as most museums and galleries are not open 7 days a week. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art hands the Mark Rothko “Orange, Red and Yellow, 1961” a painting I would marry and cherish in sickness and in health, have its little Rothko babies, and hang them on the wall with their father. But I’m not allowed to even touch it! The security guards will think you’re as weird as they think I am when you come for 7 days to sit and meditate. Never mind that, bribe them with candy, cigarettes or soda, whatever it take to be left in peace. For 7 days I sat with my dearest Rothko.

Bring binoculars because you will get closer to the painting than anyone else in the room! Feel free to fall in love with what you see, you’re a poet, you’re writing a poem, go ahead and fall in love! Feel free to go to the museum restroom and touch yourself in the stall, and be sure to write on the wall that you were there and what you were doing as everyone enjoys a dedication in the museum. And be certain to leave your number, you never know what other art lover will be reading. Return with your binoculars. There is no museum in the world with rules against the use of binoculars, information you may need for the guards if you run out of cigarettes and candy.

Map your 7 days with physical treats to enhance your experience: mint leaves to suck, chocolate liqueurs, cotton balls between your toes, firm-fitting satin underwear, thing you can rock-out with in secret for the art you love. Take notes, there must be a concentration on notes in your pleasure making. Never mind how horrifying your notes may become, horror and pleasure have an illogical mix when you touch yourself for art. When you gather your 7 days of notes you will see the poem waiting in there. Pull it out like pulling yourself out of a long and energizing dream.


Whether things wither or whether your ability to see them does.
-from “The Coinciding,” by Carrie Hunter


I pressed
this buttercup in April
call me it!
call me sentimental!
spring is a

I hope
for another to
garden with my
bare hands


awkwardness of being insane
not before
remove description
from the splendor
do not hesitate


      more of a ghost
than my ghosts
here I am


   tablet on tongue
stray voltage catching
my ankles

ready to marry
the chopped
off head

while elaborate in curse
it contributes evidence
of life


he kissed me while
I sang
refrain shoved
against epiglottis

  centuries of a vowel for
endless refutable corrections
puts mouth
to want


songs dying bodies sing at
junctures of

   EXIT sign
leads us to empty
launch pad
maybe or riding
the collapsing tower

big hands of
big clock missing
this is not symbolism
they were gone


I’m not tearing back
curtains looking

I know Love is
on the other
side of

burying the leash
with the dog was
nothing but
cruel don’t ever
speak to me again

help me stop
dreaming your

—(Soma)tic 5: Storm SOAKED Bread, by CAConrad

—for Julian Brolaski

Sit outside under shelter of a doorway, pavilion, or umbrella on a park bench, but somewhere outside where you can easily touch, smell, taste, FEEL the storm. Lean your face into the weather, face pointed UP to the sky, stay there for a bit with eyes closed while water fills the wells of your eyes. Come back into the shelter properly baptized in the beauty of pure elements and be quiet and still for a few minutes. Take some preliminary notes about your surroundings. Try not to engage with others who might run to your shelter for cover. If they insist on talking MOVE somewhere else; you are a poet with a storm to digest, this isn’t time for small talk! You are not running from the storm, you are opening to it, you are IN IT! Stick a bare arm or foot into the storm, let your skin take in a meditative measure of wind and rain. If you are someone who RAN from storms in the past take time to examine the joys of the experience. Remind yourself you are a human being who is approximately 80 percent water SO WHAT’S THE HARM OF A FEW DROPS ON THE OUTSIDE!? Right? YES! Pause, hold your breath for a count of 4, then write with a FURY and without thinking, just let it FLOW OUT OF YOU, write, write, WRITE!

Set an empty cup in the storm, hold a slic of bread in the storm. Then put a little salt and pepper on your storm soaked bread, maybe some oregano and garlic. With deliberate SLOOOWNESS chew your storm bread and drink the storm captured in your cup. Slowly. So, slowly, please, with, a, slowness, that, is, foreign, to, you. THINK the whole slow time of chewing and drinking how this water has been in a cycle for MILLIONS OF YEARS, falling to earth, quenching horses, elephants, lizards, dinosaurs, humans. They pissed, they died, their water evaporated and gathered again into clouds to drizzle down AND STORM DOWN into rivers, puddles, aqueducts, and ancient cupped hands. Humans who LOVED, who are long dead, humans who thieved, raped, murdered, were generous, playful, disappointed, fearful, annoyed and adored one another, each of them dying in their own way, their water going back to the sky, coming back down to your bread, your lips, your stomach, to feed your sinew, your brain, your living, beautiful day. Take your notes POET, IT IS YOUR MOMENT to be totally aware, completely aware!

One Day I Will Step from the Beauty Parlor and Enlist in the Frequency of Starlings

my favorite morning

is not caring if

blood on sheets

is yours or mine


a machine in

your station

rides me

tracks to snacks

snacks to tracks


I feel very fortunate

to know magic is real

and poetry is real

you can see it in the writing

a belief in one is missing


a mouse eating

the dead

cat our




I was born



they would have

never let me in


they circle away holding this place

opening opening opening OPENING UP

I grope the tree down its root


if truth soothes

soothing was

not truth’s goal


my goal

is to do what



as gentle

as vicious



one promise: when

I get to the bottom I’ll

accelerate deeper

my small pile

of poems


everyone along the

open wound

“was there a

death” they ask

“a merger” I say


everyone paying attention

enjoy your visit

everyone else

good luck