Thursday Nov 23

ConawayCameron Cameron Conaway is the author of five books, including Malaria, Poems, which was named a “Best Book of 2014” by NPR. His work as a journalist has appeared in NewsweekThe GuardianHarvard Business Review and ESPN. Conaway was the 2015 Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Fellow. Connect with him on Twitter @CameronConaway.

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Blood


He passed out, and the nurses
declined his bed so what blood he had
could rush to his head.

They’ve been pumping him full of fluids—
a move moving him closer to the end.

We whisper to each other because
the watching is heavy, and we want
to stir the silence gently.

Weeks later, we’ll wrap his near death
in the metaphors of our days: He circled
the drain twice , we ’ll say.

Our lightness will take us back to how
the magazines in the waiting room made
glamor the only kind of beauty, how
we felt in control turning their pages, how
the sweat beads on his forehead reminded
us that glistening is nothing without light,
how it’s too often this way: we fill men
with fluid when they most needed our blood.



Liberty U


He’s a first generation skateboarder—
each push against the cement

a middle finger to the Virginia farm
that grew him.

In the blue sky, the moon
is brighter than the sun.

He enters the auditorium, strolls past
framed alumni trapped in costumes.

He finds a seat, blends in with the many.

But he is boiling water, biting lip.

He’s looking for a home between
tractor and rail grind.

So he’s here, hoping the college
president on the pedestal can help
him see the future of liberty.

With a smile, the president brags
that he has a gun in his back pocket.

Let’s teach them a lesson if they
ever show up here,” he says.

When the student leaves, he can’t
find the moon in the sky.

He drops his board, pushes hard
then harder against the cement.



Fuel


He was leaving the gas station,
and I held the door for him—
caught a glimpse, my father.
The sleeves of our winter coats
brushed together, his green eyes,
the gap of 15 years closed quick.
I didn’t want to watch him
get into his car, but I wanted
to so I did. Stole a few glances,
saw a face different than the one
I stared into as he painted mine
for Halloween, saw hands smaller
than those that caused me harm.
He started his car, backed out,
pulled away into a smoke cloud.
What a shame that lies make
the same sound as truths,
that we feel so large under
a low roof, that we can hear
engines but not the stories
we create and then leave behind.



Junk

It’s nice to curl up with a book ,
she says through the TV screen.

She looks into the million eyes
looking into hers. But, she says,
most women would rather curl
up with their favorite man.

She brushes her soft hands
through her silk hair, raises
one eyebrow suggestively.

Unfortunately , she says, half
of men suffer ...

…and Moloch bursts out of her
botox lips. Concrete buildings
stuffed with junk science
climb up her throat, roll off her
tongue and burrow their way
into our ears.

This is how a rare medical problem
morphs into a lifestyle epidemic.

The sticky windows of Big Pharma
open and close, open and close—
a sick green laughter of Moloch,
a sickness rewarded for making
the healthy feel sick.

Ask your doctor , she says. Ask
your doctor if your heart is healthy
enough to stop being a pathetic
excuse .

She slides into a rooftop pool,
the screen goes black for a fraction
of a second because the hungry
ghosts are feeding.

And then we’re back. The newscaster
asking if the Buddhists in Burma
are committing a genocide.