Conversation Slam

Editor’s Note: The following poem was retrieved from a homeless camp found underground in the corridor of the subway-surface green lines between Juniper and 40th street stops in February 2002 during a particularly harsh Pennsylvania winter. For security purposes, authorities never revealed the exact location of the camp but assured commuters that the camp’s residents were treated with dignity and that public transportation was safe throughout Philadelphia and Collegetown, in particular. In fact, after camp was cleared out, each former camp resident was offered a bed in a shelter.

“Conversation Slam” was found on a damp scrap of old newspaper and signed “Wawa Ed.” Wawa Ed is a minor character in the forthcoming Atticus Books novel, Fight for Your Long Day, by Alex Kudera.

The hardest part about surviving

When Outside it’s cold as a motherfucker,

Cold as dick I heard a while back

Is when you finally get inside

And all you want to do is close your

Eyes and sit down and drink water

Is that someone you may or may

Not know saunters over and wants

To talk.

And he or she or it throws it in your


A weary, long drawn tale of some sad shit

Or other and the worst part is when

The motherfucker is genuinely happy

And that smile is glaring at you

Worse than the worse kind of fool…

“Yeah, did you?” is what he

Keeps repeating as if a cold, tired

Thirsty man

Could give but one measly dam.

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