Published on Academy of American Poets (

(Soma)tic 1: Anoint Thyself

—for John Coletti & Jess Mynes

Visit the home of a deceased poet you admire and bring some natural thing back with you. I went to Emily Dickinson's house the day after a reading event with my friend Susie Timmons. I scraped dirt from the foot of huge trees in the backyard into a little pot. We then drove into the woods where we found miniature pears, apples, and cherries to eat. I meditated in the arms of an oak tree with the pot of Emily's dirt, waking to the flutter of a red cardinal on a branch a foot or so from my face, staring, showing me his little tongue.

When I returned to Philadelphia I didn't shower for three days, then rubbed Emily's dirt all over my body, kneaded her rich Massachusetts soil deeply into my flesh, then put on my clothes and went out into the world. Every once in a while I stuck my nose inside the neck of my shirt to inhale her delicious, sweet earth covering me. I felt revirginized through the ceremony of my senses. I could feel her power tell me these are the ways to walk and speak and shift each glance into total concentration for maximum usage of our little allotment of time on a planet. LOSE AND WASTE NO MORE TIME POET! Lose and waste no more time she said to me as I took note after note on the world around me for the poem.

your sweaty party dress and my sweaty party dress lasted a few minutes until the tomato was gone someday they will disambiguate you but not while I'm around our species won Emily we won it feels so good to be winning the flame of victory pass it around it never goes out dinosaurs ruled Massachusetts dinosaurs fucking and laying eggs in Amherst Boston Mount Holyoke then you appeared high priestess pulling it out of the goddamned garden with both hands you Emily remembered the first time comprehending a struck match can spread a flame it feels good to win this fair and square protest my assessment all you want but not needing to dream is like not needing to see the world awaken to itself indestructible epiphanies consume the path and just because you're having fun doesn't mean you're not going to die recrimination is the fruit to defy with unexpected appetite I will be your outsider if that's how you need me electric company's stupid threatening letters cannot affect a poet who has faced death


From A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon. Copyright © 2012 by CAConrad. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.



Born on January 1, 1966, in Topeka, CAConrad is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration (Wave Books, 2021); While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017); ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books, 2014); Philip Seymour Hoffman (were you high when you said this?) (Worms Press, 2014); A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics (Wave Books, 2012); and The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009), the recipient of the Gil Ott Book Award. They also authored a book of nonfiction essays, Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009).

CAConrad is known for their development of (Soma)tics, a poetics, as they describe, “which investigates that seemingly infinite space between body and spirit by using nearly any possible THING around or of the body to channel the body out and/or in toward spirit with deliberate and sustained concentration.”

About their work, poet Eileen Myles writes, “[CAConrad] always argues (from the inside of their poems) for a poetry of radical inclusivity while keeping a very queer shoulder to the wheel. Their kind of queerness strikes me as non-polarizing, not intentionally but because of the fullness of their exposition, a kind of gigantism that seems to me to be most deeply informed by love, and a tenderness for the ravages and tumult of existence.”

CAConrad’s honors include fellowships from the Banff Art Center, the Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Poetry Foundation, and Ucross Foundation. CAConrad conducts lectures and workshops across the country on (Soma)tics and Ecopoetics. 

They teach at Columbia University and UMass Amherst, and live in Greenfield, Massachusetts. 

Date Published: 2012-01-01

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