Space is Deaf Like Me / Willy Conley


Space is Deaf Like Me

poems by

Willy Conley

ISBN: 978-1-964277-18-9, 44 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Release Date: July 16, 2024

The Advance Sale Discount price on this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $17/book (which includes shipping & sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Mint Hill, NC 28227. For wholesale prices, please contact:


PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.

Willy Conley is the author of the books Photographic Memories – Essays, Playlets, and Stories, Plays of Our Own – An Anthology of Scripts by Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Writers, Visual-Gestural Communication, The World of White Water – Poems, Listening Through the Bone – Collected Poems, The Deaf Heart – A Novel, Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays, and Broken Spokes. Born profoundly deaf, Conley is a retired professor emeritus and former chairperson of theatre arts at Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, in Washington, D.C. For more info about his work, please visit:

Willy Conley’s poetry is a delightful read to get through—there are both humorous and poignant stories which make me chuckle and gasp. Reading his poetry, it feels as if I’m on a stroll with Willy, witnessing various moments play out in front of us. Not only Willy goes over the deaf experience with biting humor, but also invokes sweet nostalgic memories of 20th century American culture that so many of us long for. ~Sabina England


Come see the world through the eyes of a multi-talented Deaf artist. See how he transforms the mundane into vivid imagery through ASL and word play. How he fixes a broken picket fence with just one sign. How to start a fire by adding “flame” to wood. How “deaf” can be a “dirty four letter word.” How lipreading is akin to watching a “serpent spitting venom.” Intrigued? Dive in… ~Howie Seago


Conley’s poetic works consist of creatively snapshots of Deaf space acting as close-knit tango partner with daily dilemma within our phonocentric world. Prepare yourself for his words that jump out of the books and transform into new language–to be played for your own eyes. ~Peter Cook


Space is deaf like me

no air to carry sound waves
no medium to create vibrations
yet billionaires fly up for my everyday experience





Shivering this morning outside the train station,
he zippered up his leather jacket
and buttoned the cuff sleeves.
The faint trace of a bite mark
still on the left cuff
from two weeks ago.

He studies a fellow passenger
who never looks at him
nor says anything on the platform.
A male commuter arrives, stands by her.
She immediately strikes up a conversation,
talking through teeth,
barely moving her mouth.

He’s glad to never have conversed with her.
Being Deaf, he can’t read stationary lips,
only American Sign Language.

The man she’s hissing with
looks like a former hearing
professor colleague of his who can sign.

He visited his house once after work.
His Deaf wife had a very toothy smile
and a manner of communication called Sim-Com:
simultaneously signing and mouthing
words in English order.

Their young son ran around wild,
then suddenly stopped to greet him.
The boy tugged on his jacket,
signing random words,
showing him toys, and so on.

Then, the kid bit him on the wrist –
expressing instant affection.



Blowing Out Candles with Neil Armstrong


I was born in Baltimore on August 5, 1958
at 12:15 am in the Hospital for the Women of Maryland.
Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon,
was born on August 5th too.
But he came into the world 28 years before me.
My mother was 23 years old.
I was nowhere near the baby she was expecting:
a cute, blonde baby doll thing
like my cousins Bobby and Porky.
She was on “twilight sleep” during labor
and when the nurse woke her up,
she informed my mother that
my father had passed out,
and that they had a baby boy.
Mom didn’t believe her,
thinking the baby hadn’t come out yet.
When the nurse paraded me in,
my mother said,
That’s a FAT, UGLY little Buddha.”



The Writing Teacher


This William Carlos Williams poetic
His pupil randomly points at with finger
As he fanned pages of The Desert Music.

She picks up her pen, eyeing this relic,
Copped: “All mankind grew to be his debtors…,”
This William Carlos Williams poetic.

He thinks Fagin, teacher of pickpockets,
Who trained orphans to steal treasures galore
As he fanned pages of The Desert Music.

Why misers crave loot was a trait archaic
As time of beasts stealing food of others.
This William Carlos Williams poetic

Of street urchins clawing through life’s epic.
His student with pen frozen on paper,
As he fanned pages of The Desert Music

For next learner’s jab on a dry lyric;
To tap her mind for words to outpour,
This William Carlos Williams poetic
As he fanned pages of The Desert Music.

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