Size / / /

into the

a pair of dice

Frank climbed the ladder
to find a five
and a two

he never saw the hand that threw them
swinging down to swoop them up

while Mother slept
Frank took her eyes

she told him never to do that

he saw the devil in every room
twirling his asshole
cooking small rodents
masturbating in Father's E-Z chair

all this through Mother's eyes

Frank was shaking
putting them back in her head

next morning
she marched into his room shrieking

Frank's diary
by mail
when he'd
lost it on
a bus

"Dear Boy come to Jesus"
penciled in the margin
for 224 pages

"I'm here for the show" the man said
looking under Frank's shirt for the door

"I'm no theater" Frank said

a line formed

must he admit them all?

many had umbrellas

a blind woman
waited with
her dog

"it's gonna be a great show" someone said
"but when's he gonna let us in?"

Frank's tears began to fall

someone ripped his doors open

they filled him for an hour

Frank was embarrassed in the bar
when his skin began to smoke

"hey man!" someone yelled
"do you need the fire department?"

everybody laughed

"no" he said with
a nervous smile waving
his arm to
clear the smoke
which only made it worse

"it will pass" he said

"it's just the
of my soul

it will pass"

Frank ate clear around
the sleeping worm
of the apple

"any life saved in this place
is magic" Frank said
"it's life coming back to you"


Copyright © 2003 CAConrad

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CAConrad lives and writes in Philadelphia with The Philly Sound poets. His book FRANK is forthcoming from The Jargon Society, while advancedELVIScourse is forthcoming from Buck Downs Books, and DEVIANT PROPULSION is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press. He curates the project 9for9, edits BANJO: Poets Talking, and co-edits FREQUENCY Audio Journal with Magdalena Zurawski. His previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. To contact him, email

C. A. Conrad's childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He escaped to Philadelphia the first chance he got, where he lives and writes today with the PhillySound poets. He coedits FREQUENCY Audio Journal with Magdalena Zurawski, and edits the 9for9 project. Soft Skull Press is publishing his first book of poems, titled Deviant Propulsion, available Fall 2005. He has two other forthcoming books, The Frank Poems (Jargon Society) and advancedELVIScourse (Buck Downs Books). He is the author of several chapbooks, including (end-begin w/ chants), a collaboration with Frank Sherlock. You can see more of his work in our archives and at his website:, or contact him by email at:
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