CAConrad

(Soma)tic Poetry Exercise
& Poem

by CAConrad

AIDS SNOW FAMILY

            --for anyone who loved someone who died of AIDS

"The poem is restorative, rather than fragmenting."
            --Alexandra Grilikhes


In January gather snow, this is intimate this calling to honor the shock of being alive. I made one tiny snowman named CAConrad, and one tiny snowman named Tommy Schneider. For six months they held hands in the privacy of my freezer while I visited the streets and buildings in the Philadelphia of our Love. Snow crystals travel miles out of clouds into the light of our city. My snowman read to his snowman the letters I brought home to the freezer. It's 2010, AIDS is different in this century you didn't live to see. The used bookshop where you worked on South Street is now a clothing store. Our first kiss in the Poetry Section is a rack of blue jeans and I resist hooking my thumbs in the belt loops to pull you in -- I FEEL you everywhere today.

In March an old friend was visiting and she said, "But you wrote poems for Tommy after he died." I said, "But it's sublime retracing our love in this exercise." She shook her head, "No, it's sad, it's very sad. Can't you see this beautiful day?" OF COURSE I see the beautiful day, in fact I SEE IT MORE THAN EVER, and I don't need her choreography to enter it. The point of experiencing love is to engage the greater openings. It's important to ignore the directives of others when investigating the way these doors swing on their hinges. Months of spring into summer, my snowman told your snowman the memories. One night you had asked if I was upset at something. I said, "I have no right to complain, all the men are dying in our city and I don't have AIDS!" You said, "Well I have no right to complain because I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me and I DO have AIDS!"

Macrobiotics, herbal infusions, massages, sensory deprivation tanks, reflexology, music by Soft Cell, music by Siouxsie and the Banshees, music by Cocteau Twins, music by Patti Smith. Of course we're all dying, you'll never kiss someone who isn't dying, I know that, which is why the fear of this is not allowed to stop me from missing you the way I want. The streets were filled with men in wheelchairs that year. We were kids in love while you vanished in the funnel with them. The day after Summer Solstice I took our snowmen out of the freezer. 90 degrees, we melted quicker than expected, even sooner than I could have imagined. I burned the letters, mixed their ash with our slush. And I read to the puddle a poem that came to me years ago in a dream soon after you died: he wrote "I have AIDS / and kissed this wall" / X marked the spot / I wrote "I'm not afraid" / and kissed him back / wherever he is. I took many notes during the life of our snowmen in the freezer until they vanished. Those notes became a poem.



QUALM
CUTTING AND
ASSEMBLAGE

--for Tommy

“What do you think
of the cosmic proletariat?”
--Debrah Morkun


deshrouded
against
a ton of
ears a five
pound
song
broke
them all
it is
rare to
remember
where we
are from
listen
I am on
earth
not sure
how long
our documents
under rubble
an hour
prying this
fucking
drawer
open to
find handles
and screws
instead of
your poem
we came into
the quiet like
we had to
survive their
ridicule
to die
in their
sleeping
conscience
bleeding
as when
bathed in
the hunt
you fund
me with
kisses
face a
spoken
promise
the written
has been
burned
only a
memory
can perish
every
cell
resold to
sharpest
set of
incisors
“viruses are
hungry too”
you said
our documents
shot into
outer space
what is
more fortunate
than the
will to
proceed
bliss
cascading
in the
candy you
make as
a sword
gathers
me into
solitude
cradling
a five
pound
song for
you in
my ear
I hate many
but won't halt
loving you
set this
down to know
a little night
time
heads, macaroni
tails, execution
edit our bigger
part of credit
the cop
Frank O'Hara
not the poet
Frank O'Hara
told us
STOP
GETTING
NAKED
IN THE
BUSHES
TOGETHER
he's gonna have
to arrest us he's
gonna have to
arrest us he's
trying so
hard to
be nice
remembering
half finished
poems falling
off table
falling off
truck falling
off cliff
what's that
fucking cliff
trying to
do to us
this is how
if feels
traffic lights
in dark
in rain
no cars even
pink hat in
sidewalk drain
it's the
comfort
you get
some
times
I molded
my body
around
you to
hold your
winter to a
sanctum of
flame
we agree
to ignore
the
deafening
knock
lingering at
doll house
doors
large
sentimental
songs at
doll house
doors
dolls yelling
FUCK OFF
an anger
traces the
outline of
each it
enters
it is
and is
not a private
act to involve the
thawing choir
our bones
our muscles
get rising
to one
and
two
breaths
the common
lung this
world a
mouth into
a mouth
breathing
back
and
forth
so
then
so
then
mouth
sings to
mouth
so then
mouth
sings to
mouth
so then
all night
so then
a day
then a
day so

--


Bio

CAConrad is a recipient of the 2011 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and the 2009 Gil Ott Book Award. 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.

CAConrad.blogspot.com