Thursday, May 26, 2005


This is the first time I've posted a poem to our blog, but I have this new one that I'm pretty sure is finished. You don't need to know this, but I want to tell it, and that is that "the end of suffering" is something I remember my grandfather saying when I was a kid. In fact my memory of him is very much part of this poem.

When I was a kid (9 and 10) I spent a good part of the summer in Iowa with my mother's family, and I spent as much time as I could around my grandfather. He and his buddies from work were always drinking beer and fixing cars, and constantly talking about the DuPont factory where they worked. There was one conversation I remember quite well, one fellow bitching about the union dues, and my grandfather lit into him, talking about what their lives were like before the union. He referred to the day they finally got their hard-won union as the end of suffering.

And I remember my grandfather talking to me about what you do and don't do at work, and how you need your union, and how you need to preserve space in your life to relax. And how you MAKE your employer give you proper compensation for your time because your time is precious, and time at work is time away from your family and friends. And I think about all the different things he told me (I could go on and on for pages about him and the things he said), but what this poem is about is the disappearance of my grandfather's structures.

This poem is a sudden step back, gasping at everything that's gone now for workers in this country. My grandfather simply wouldn't believe it if you woke him from his grave. He was SO CONVINCED that working people had made their mark for good! He was CERTAIN that people had learned how to share and be there for one another.

I'm not saying that this poem is for my grandfather, because he wouldn't want it, just like he wouldn't want this world we now have. We've only just started to live in this new world with all the exoskeletal securities stripped away, and it's clear that Social Security is the obvious next cut of meat to be taken. There's not a week that goes by that I don't talk with someone else who is just as surprised and unsure of what to do as I am. And there's also not a week that goes by where I don't speak with someone who is in complete denial of what we've lost, and continue to lose every single day in this country.

These things are also always on my mind lately because I'm in an anthology coming out next month called EVERYTHING I HAVE IS BLUE. It's a groundbreaking anthology, a collection of writing by and about working class gay men. More and more I see how important this anthology is when I see the queer community looking like a permanent Key West holiday. We are living in a time where invisibility of the true faces is the norm, and I feel like doing nothing but fighting that invisibility factor.

Signal and Sway
by CAConrad

and we
get to

concentration has
the Love even
saying Magic with

i fail the
end of
with you

bought 10 years
ago by
younger man
same name


teeth ahead

an invitation
to the fist

so adorable
looking for

excuse me
i meant to
say fuck you

knives coming
down when
you’re trying
to eat it

is it the
emotional distance
of the waitress
you come for?

aria of snail
ticking smaller
in the sound
breathing louder
in the light

how long
can we believe
this world
belongs to us?

is it a
toilet or
grave being

he answers
by asking
is it a cartoon
or fiction?

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