CAConrad’s Deviant Propulsion by Kendall Grady

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 100 Summer 2007
100 Summer 2007

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


Deviant Propulsion

Courtesy of Soft Skull Press.

CAConrad’s first book is a voracious projectile, cutting desire and dissidence into bite-size servings: eat me.

Poems like “for years” betray individuals as autonomous cogs in a collective decision called the Present: “a million / possible / worlds / but we / choose / to feed / the rich.” We must choose to be a diode, CAConrad screams, passing energy in only one direction—forward! Down with “necropoetics” and up with erections!

The left lane of Deviant Propulsion curves and palpitates, sexy and fast. CAConrad wields physicality—“the Musical nutrition of being completely alive”—as a shamanic portal to interpersonal and societal gratification. However, as he chides in “The Distance,” “it’s not / philosophy it’s / a kiss moving / down your / spine.” The poet is queer, but far from being an isolationist. He could make a staunch zero on the Kinsey scale lust after the ephebic, tragic tongue penetrating a piece of toast in “The Night River Phoenix Died.”

The vernacular language in Deviant Propulsion allows the reader to swallow situations as surreal as a mother eating her illegitimate cucumber in “A World Without Condoms,” and juxtapositions like celebrity & loneliness, camp & AIDS, and Judy Garland & Mike Tyson. CAConrad excretes a hyper-reality—driving through Cy Twombly paintings—Americana for an America too preoccupied with oil to indulge the congenital sugar in its tank. The poet moves freely between Ginsberg-style conscious critiques and the erotic poignancy of James Bidgood in an effort to demystify how “all the / death has a / way of / getting us / the love.”

Deviant Propulsion is above all a love story, summoning an encaustic, grassroots form of love sharpened by bolts of polyamorous romance and understood like “tasting / wind through / fields of / wheat in / bread.” CAConrad is a native of Philadelphia, where words are the oldest form of American activism. In “Exit as Real Journey to All Friends” CAConrad writes, “fuck / the heart / i Love you / with all / my liver.” His is an anarchistic love fierce enough to bring the Man to his knees—exactly where CAConrad wants him, mouth open.

Deviant Propulsion was published by Soft Skull Press in January 2007.

(Soma)tic Poetry Exercise & Poem by CAConrad
​Judith Supine
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Originally published in

BOMB 100, Summer 2007

Featuring interviews with Chuck Close, Kara Walker, Mamma Andersson, Howard Norman, Peter Nadas, Bela Tarr, Benedict Mason, and Kate Valk.

Read the issue
100 Summer 2007