john bradley

Whereas: Song
   for Becky and Beth and Mary

Whereas: the whereabouts of feeling not so good

Whereas: a tiny grain of grit unlike every other grit grain

Whereas: “only” and “just” and “whereas”

Whereas: the sleeping hand on your laden shoulder

Whereas: the leaden hand on your shifting shoulder

Whereas: each blessing blessed with “a part” and “apart”

Whereas: how you further every farther

Whereas: “resolved” and “February” and “song”

A Hole in the Shape

    Wherever my hand muses vase, jawbone, the photo of your face: a hole in the shape of a bird in flight.  I can still smell on my clothes that sickly egg scent, telling me: “Do not fall asleep in a hollow book.”  If I look down my femur, past my own looking, will I see an orange rolling up a tree? At the end of the question, I hear someone breathe: “All I want is to eat is a small piece of Crete.”  With the curve of my hands, I shelter (cup) and (fork) and (writ).  Did a transparent god peer at me through the hole in the toilet stall?  Silence desires the company of salt.  That is, whenever I pause, whenever I touch flesh to baked clay: a hole in the shape of a bird escaped.

Uncollected True Dust

    Eros, in order to protect us, makes it nearly impossible to mouth a decent love song, given the lie of the tongue.  I don’t have to open my chest with a can opener as you already know what we’ll find there.  Slipping his head through that ring formed by forefinger and thumb, he burned a small hole in the towel wrapped around my head.  But no one ever noticed the Messiah of Gretna was carved from a block of low-altitude Bavarian cheese.  Move, me, dear motion, molecule by missing molecule.  So it doesn’t matter, the shape of your face, or how you babble it away.  Sprawled across the cobblestones with a word I can’t mouth embedded in my forehead, I felt a crowd, blurred beneath a long white sheet, surging through my inner ear.  Delete, while you still can, all perspiring futures.

Caption for a Photograph of Someone Minus an Aura

    “My aura, I can’t seem to find it today,” I said in the meditation room at the corner of Lunch and Divine.  It’s not every day I get to hear a recording of myself eating a circular punctuation mark.  She’s the wife of that guy speaking with my wife as I spoke with his wife about the history of the papercut.  “He prefers the typewriter’s ellipsis,” she confided, “and the word processor’s asterisk, though sometimes both on his birthday.”  I motioned to her that her part was slightly crooked, though my hand didn’t tell me this until after it had embarrassed me yet again.  “You’ve been purged from our files,” the file manager told me.  “That’s why you smell like woodsmoke.”  Sometimes I can fall asleep in anyone’s hand.  “There’s a bird wing stuck under you nose,” my wife signals to me with her left ear.  That’s the last thing I can remember before finding my aura entangled with the wife of the film director’s hairbrush.  No one will blame you if you choose to terminate at some predetermined moment this momentary termination now.


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john bradley has had poetry in American Poetry Review, Ironwood, Kerf, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Switched-On Gutenberg, and other journals. Terrestrial Music (Curbstone) and War on Words(BlazeVOX) were recently published.  He teaches at Northern Illinois University.




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