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Frank hated the 9 miscarriages
kept in jars of formaldehyde

Mother burped each one

spooned peas against the glass

melon heads snapped open and close

she rocked them all at once in her arms
no room for Frank

"you are too big for a jar my child
you will betray me the rest of your life"

Frank hammers
all day

it works

the earth
leave us

Frank's sister grew long blue feathers

she said it was worse than cutting teeth

she spent a month screaming in the cave
pushing them out

Frank would lie in bed at night
touching his own back


praying it wouldn't
come to him

but the day his sister flew to the house
he stood by the window in awe
giant blue spread coming in across the lake

he heard the hunter's shot before she did

Frank remembers
the shirts of buried generals
flying in formation
over schoolyards

blowing wasps from sleeves

Frank grew crows for hands

it was a difficult childhood

at dinner during prayer
his crows flapped
excited in the name of the Lord
"FRANK! KEEP STILL!" Mother hollered
"did you wash your crows!?
did you wash your FILTHY STINKING CROWS!?"

when Father died
Frank was found
straddling him
his crows picking the seven
gold fillings


Copyright © 2001 CAConrad

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CAConrad is a poetry stevedore living in Philadelphia. His forthcoming books included COMPLETELY FRANK (The Jargon Society), and advancedELVIScourse (Buck Downs Books). He is the editor of BANJO: poets talking and he co-edits FREQUENCY MAGAZINE with Magdalena Zurawski.

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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