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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press


By: Chuck Sebian-Lander

life begins

at self-conception

close your eyes. attempt

to recall the moments before

you knew you existed

find brackish haze and the lightning

of fresh nerves and the universe, fenced in

by a titan's soothing heartbeat

see all this, but only because you think,

"that *must* be how it was"

now think further back,

if you can:

imagine your cells,

the moment of *their* conception,

the start of all things

recall what you felt then:

nothing, nothing, nothing,

and in it all the feeling in the whole

of the expanse

wonder, in awe, that any feelings could exist,

or the capacity to imagine

or the thrum of a beating heart

or the knowledge, upon listening,

that the heart

is yours


Former M.F.A. student, now living and working outside of Washington D.C., who habitually writes poetry, at least the first drafts, about the same way he tweets: with little regard for whether anyone cares but the assumption that no one does. So it goes.

"Like most of my poetry, this one started with a line I thought was mildly clever ("life begins at self-conception") and grew organically from that line's implications and emotional triggers. The line was also much longer and clunkier at first, also like most of my poetry.

I couldn't say much about the process of writing it from an intellectual perspective except to note in retrospect that the poem has an appropriately respiratory quality, moving first as far outward as it can and then shrinking all the way down. Also, the lack of certain grammatical norms (i.e. capitalization) is less a global preference of mine and more an acknowledgement that a poem like this works best when spoken just slightly above a whisper. Think of it as an attempt to capture the voiceless words rattling through your mind when you're nervous about something.

There's an obvious cultural, uh, "debate" that I'm swatting at here, too. The actual subjects of that conversation fed into my writing of the poem only insofar as I think any half-serious examination of the self leads necessarily to a more complex and loving understanding of people than what must be held by those who would demand ownership over the bodies of others."


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