On The 10th Anniversary Of The Disappearance Of America’s Anti War Movement While The Wars Rage On

February 7, 2020
Photo: Luke Besley

In the town where CAConrad grew up, many of their family members worked in factories. Conrad observed how industrial labor conditions divided their family’s attention between depression about the past and anxiety about the future, leaving little room to dwell in the present. To counteract capitalism’s erosion of the now as a habitable place, Conrad developed a series of rituals that create an “extreme present.” 

“On The 10th Anniversary Of The Disappearance Of America’s Anti War Movement While The Wars Rage On” comes from one such ritual, called “Resurrect Extinct Vibration.” To perform the ritual, Conrad lies on the ground at various sites across the US while listening to recordings of recently extinct animals. Conrad explains: “When a species leaves the planet, they take all of their sounds with them—their heartbeat, their breath, their footfall, their fluttering, their gallop, their cries, their songs. All of it’s gone. Silence . . . And we’re filling it in with this din of humanity—our cars, our bombs, our drones.” In a trance state induced by the animal sounds, Conrad takes notes, which they later sculpt into poems. The poems are assembled from a wide array of sources—wildlife, pop culture, observations about the nation’s ongoing colonial history—forging an alternative to our alienation from one another and from the planet we share.

– Claire Schwartz

On The 10th Anniversary Of The Disappearance Of America’s Anti War Movement While The Wars Rage On

for Sarah Fox

  his fig leaf flutters on the electric
  fan to reveal the true gift of this god
  a long stem rose with a sad story to hide
  America is all about growing that hair back keeping that cock stiff
  empire crumbling around world’s most obstinate hard-on
  a stick with a fur coat limping through the forest
  this bus runs on clean natural gas
  lies from our government and 
  lies of corporations seem to
         find common ground
             not too much trouble 
             when you are one of 
             9 tomatoes resting in
             a blender just above the on button
                        our planet had herds of triceratopses 
                        can only imagine their lost sounds 
                        were they like lions or loons
                        our human sounds all day 
                        in the hospital
                        my friend Adam 
                        asked me to describe
                        the 9 cigarettes smoked
                        by Bette Davis in All About Eve 
                        gaps in the hero of the moment 
                        each puff a meditation on betrayal
                        held by the indestructible power of 9
                        faithless treachery known by many
           Salvador Dalí publicly praising
    Franco’s iron fist even after Franco
executed Dalí’s former lover
             the great poet of the people
                        Federico García Lorca

CAConrad is a 2019 Creative Capital Fellow and the author of nine books of poetry and essays. While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books) received the 2018 Lambda Award. A recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, they also received the Believer Poetry Award and the Gil Ott Book Award.