The Body He Left Behind: Poems From an ASU Alum


We’re excited to share that Arizona State University alum Reese Conner recently published a book! The Body He Left Behind is Reese’s debut poetry collection and is published by Cider Press Review. Winner of the 2020 Cider Press Review Editor’s Prize Book Award, The Body He Left Behind includes the poem “The Rapture.”

The Rapture
after Robert Dash’s “Into the Mystic”

The first thing to go was a sailboat.
It was raptured, just like that. Snap
your fingers, please. Like that.

An old couple watched from the end
of a pier. Beyond them, the sloop
tickled water for a bit, shuddered
like nostalgia or blackmail, then poof:
The mainsail, the headsail, the hull,
all the boat jargon lost specificity
like a ghost, bleeding form
and crying vowels. The boat
peeled from the water, stretching
a paintbrush of pixels in its wake
as it rose. The skyline, too,
began to glaze, and the sea
poured upward into it, everything
a swarm of movement.

Imaginative men who witnessed it
thought things like justice.
The old couple joined hands now.
And everyone who knew Robert Hass
knew he was right: everything
was dissolving, spiriting away
towards a more perfect self
of itself. As more world
blurred upward—housecats, tire swings,
entire orchards—a gentle murmur
spread in the bellies of the observant,
who saw even the ugly things
begin to ascend—blobfish, Smart Cars,
murder weapons, every issue of Us Weekly—
and thought, or began to think:
What about us? And they were all
naked now, they noticed—
clothes lifted from them
like water in a dry heat. Some ogled
the newly-naked world with intention.
Others began to tantrum—violent
or existential, all unable to translate
what must have felt like betrayal.
And that old couple, still holding hands,
looked skyward and stood up
on their tippy toes.

Cats are a major theme throughout the collection. But not only is there ample mention of cats, the poems speak to us:

These are singular, quietly soaring poems. They innocuously but effectively reach for greater truths regarding the animal nature of our beings and where we as individual humans fall on that hierarchical scale. In these poems, we so easily find in their dailiness depths of feeling we recognize immediately, even if we have never said so aloud before. They artfully connect us to something important inside ourselves. Simply put, these are heartfelt—and powerful—love poems to and about cats, poems of genuine grappling with human sensibility. These are near sentimentality all the time, but without sentimentality. This is dangerously wonderful territory for a writer, and the poems explore their terrain well. They simply make us feel, so that even as they are about cats, these poems humanize us.

Alberto Rios, Author of A Small Story About the Sky

The Body He Left Behind is available for purchase from Cider Review Press. Find more from Reese on his website. Congratulations, Reese!

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