(Soma)tic Poetry Exercise
& Poem


--for Jamie Townsend

Watch weather report for heavy rain.  On the day before, drink NOTHING.  No beverages of any kind.  Eat no soup or broth.  Eat only steamed vegetables with soft noodles or bread.  Wait for rain.  Set your alarm to wake in the middle of the night, and then sit by the window peering into the dark sky with binoculars.  Think about your first memory of being thirsty.  Take notes, go back to sleep.

Wait for rain.  You are still not drinking the next day and you are very thirsty.  When rain arrives sit by the window.  Close your eyes, take your pulse, hear the rain, feel your blood.  Imagine that the water you hear coming to earth will never touch your lips, can never quench the dryness that is your mouth.  Were you ever so thirsty that you were in pain?  Open your eyes, take notes.

Go out into the rain.  Lie on the ground.  Look into the sky through binoculars with your mouth open.  Drink DIRECTLY from the air while watching the streaming drops fall onto the binocular lens.  Open an umbrella and take notes to the beating of rain.  You are a drought that is cured.  You are a body sponging back your life.  Shape your three sets of notes into one poem or three.


I was thirsty in
1976 on our way
      to a bicentennial picnic
    35 years later we
 eat burritos
 become sad
tears of the cook
got into the rice and beans
      most afternoons weepy
        priests eat here
           mourning their cocks
           my suggestion of
           castration upsets
           everyone who fail
to consider
my concerns


bread asks
body to hold its
measurement of worth
             crane my
   neck back and
        forth on telephone
       glance at suit of
       cards for their
       sharpened edges
skid marks of
       fatal crash
      visible for months
there it is
there it is
      oh my god there it is LISTEN LISTEN
       I’m getting a tattoo of
                  your face on my
             ass to show
       you every time
    you say goodbye


it’s hurting
me get out of
my house if you
        don’t hate death as
       much as I do
          fuck you and your
          smug Buddhist calm
               alchemy of thorns
          from kind intentions
          it’s none of your
          business if I trick
   the doorman into
              thinking I’m
   his wife he
       wrote my name
       in a heart as
  though I didn’t
ask him to

CAConrad is a recipient of a 2011 Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is the author of A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (Wave Books, 2012), The Book of Frank (Wave Books, 2010), Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009), Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006), and a collaboration with poet Frank Sherlock titled The City Real & Imagined (Factory School, 2010). The son of white trash asphyxiation, his childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. Visit him online at http://CAConrad.blogspot.com

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