Mark Conway’s new book of poetry Dreaming Man, Face Down is out this month, and Conway will be reading this Friday at 7pm at Micawber’s Books. The collection deals primarily with the aftermath of death, and what those of us left behind must face.
His previous book of poetry, Any Holy City, was short-listed for the 2007 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Bomb, The Walrus and elsewhere. Conway directs the Literary Arts Institute at the College of Saint Benedict.
Here’s a poem from Conway’s new collection:
Tarot Card of the Dreaming Man, Face Down
Then it was gone, the beatitude
of your body,
while the rest lay, specifically,
there: black, black,
as a dead dog, the back
of your legs
looking plastic, looking extra, trailing
behind the rest of you
like a mooch, like a goddamn moron and you
already camouflaging yourself inside
the light and dark, mouthing
the prime numbers of eternity…
We gave you days to continue dying
and you did
after you were dead. We
needed time – poor relations
to arrive, to decide upon
the precise symbolism
of the flowers, to complete
the box, nail it into
position, to divest the body
of its slime, to call
your name three times;
to call you three times;
to call you by name three times.
And at first.
You wouldn’t go.
You own this body
thriving within the caucus
of microscopic insects and dazzled
acids there to burn you down to ashes
you over there, you
in your over-there work-body
of the soul, your hooded
spirit released and humming
like its crazy in the light.
Where you are, slipping
through the monstrous
inner membrane of the world,
you see how it works.
I, like a mooch, like a goddamn moron, live.
We waited for you. Two or three days.
Then an old man came and prayed.
– “Tarot Card of the Dreaming Man, Face Down” by Mark Conway, as it appears in his new collection Dreaming Man, Face Down, published by Dream Horse Press.