J. Bradley

J. Bradley is the author of *Dodging Traffic* (Ampersand Books). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in *wtf pwm*, *decomP*, *Dogzplot*, *Writers' Bloc* among other journals. In 1985, he dabbled in journalism when he interviewed Emmanuel Lewis with a Spider-Man PEZ Dispenser. http://www.pankmagazine.com/iheartfailure.net.

En Garde (Issue 31)

Two Poems (Issue 26)

Rug Cutter (Issue 20)

Pythagorean (Issue 15)

Two Poems (Issue 12)

En Garde (September 20, 2011. Issue 31.)

Franki's tongue slips into my mouth as Robert Smith sings about her making him feel like he's living at the edge of the world. She takes off my faded black Pulp Fiction t-shirt and faded black shorts, revealing questionably clean white briefs.

"Tighty whiteys, huh." She pulls the front of my underwear to the side, threading my cock through the opening. Her eyes, mouth gape slightly.

"What's wrong?" I will my cock to stay awake.

"Um...I wasn't expecting you to be...so big."

***

I don't know what to say as Miranda stands in my doorway for the first time. Her green eyes melt each syllable before they can leave my mouth for the first ten, fifteen minutes. Her body thinks I'm all Mark David Chapman until I finally talk, until I reach in for a kiss. Thirty minutes later, we lay on our backs, naked and sweating into my bed. Ten minutes after that, I walk outside to the balcony. I hold the hand not holding a cigarette and tell her we're together now. She nods.

***

I strip Anne down, lay her down on the futon, looking into her eyes, kissing her neck. If my mom and younger brother were downstairs, I would be glad she doesn't make much noise but they're not home. To keep myself from finishing too soon, I thank LiveJournal for this future girlfriend.

***

I know Andi's taste before I know her middle name, her favorite color, her favorite food, the weirdest thing she wanted to grow up. A week later, I never get the chance to ask these questions.

***

Michelle rides me beneath a bridge in one of the parks near Downtown Orlando. My mom, her boyfriend made us inventive about our geography, where we left behind our evidence. She's swatted down the words "boyfriend" and "break up with him" so many times, I forget to say them.

***

Leona, Diana, Callie, Catherine, Sara, Brandy, Tina, Karin, Sandy, Ruth: what I did during the summer of my separation and divorce, in no particular order.

***

Danielle, Rachel, Samantha, Nicole, Sally, Trina, Wendy, Kelly: what I did after Anne left me for a woman who looked like a chubbier version of Jack Osborne, in no particular order. I added Anne to this list. It was her Christmas present before she moved back to Wisconsin, single.

***

My reward for saving Michelle from an abusive ex-boyfriend was fucking her against a tree in another public park, at night. I kept "boyfriend" out of my vocabulary around her, still. I knew what I was good for.

***

An hour into IM'ing Dina, I know pulling her hair ruins linen. She was absolutely right.

***

I watch Miranda and her mother pick apart the ribs of furniture, pictures, and books from our apartment. I fight the urge to slam her against the wall and leave her feeling as exhausted as a Dear John letter.

***

"You haven't taken it slow for awhile, have you?"

I nod. I've forgotten how. I want to learn again.

Two Poems (March 20, 2011. Issue 26. The SLAM & FLASH Issue!)

Marching Bands Of Manhattan

It's not easy being the Grand Marshal
of the Hurt Parade. The first priority
is keeping a straight face
when someone asks “Are you doing o.k?”
I answer “yes I am” but I leave off “today”.

Forks stopped echoing against dinner plates.
I don't look for monsters in bed.
My thumb doesn't reach for the wedding band
I once rubbed; I didn't believe
someone like me had your hand
in marriage.

Then came the day groceries choked
my arms while waiting in the checkout line,
the iPod played Death Cab for Cutie's
“I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, our
first dance as husband and wife.
The venom of sentimentality worked
toward my tear ducts; another cashier,
an empty conveyer belt slowed it down.

“I lost 120 pounds recently,” I answer
when the person who asks how I'm doing
doesn't know the ending; you can only parry
with laughter while shadowboxing
against the mirror in the morning for so long.

I left our children in generic Kleenex
like a burning orphanage, their names
decaying like the papery embryos
of fortune cookies.

If I keep saying I've gained more
than what I've lost, I might entirely believe it
one day.

I invent pick up lines to ward off arms
like garlic and broken glass. I grew a beard
to soften the reaction after she hears
“hey baby, wanna get on this dick
like it's Schindler's List?”

I weaned myself from chasing after women
My back aches from all the falling
it wants to do.

I hope I can look back at all this, hang
the Grand Marshall sash in my closet. I'll know
when I don't have to think of the word
“today” at the end of saying “Yes, I'm o.k.

Revision

The first letter of your name
sleeps below my wrist; I'm not sure
what to smother it with.

The no solution symbol
with the diagonal line staking
through the stem makes
for an awkward cautionary tale.

The no quarter flag
would be a lie; I swallowed
everything I should have said
when you splintered
like a confessional.

Calvin pissing into larger
cursive oval of the 'J'
would be rude
and hard to explain.

When I tell my lovers
this is where you once lived,
I hope their right hand knows
where to hold me down
so you can't watch.

Table of Contents

Rug Cutter (August 20, 2010. Issue 20.)

Wait for the dirt to settle”, I tell Michael. “The best audience is the audience of one.”

Dancing on a grave requires good timing, not skill. People wear heavy shoes to muffle the honesty in their feet or salt their larynx with tears to strangle the Lloyd Dobbler in their throat from switching the boombox on, humming the prom night condom breaker.

“What dance would you recommend?”, Michael asks. He looks at my mouth like I'm wearing Twyla Tharp's blood in my teeth.

Jonah Bronton was 14 when he died. His first job as a character assassin was on my Speedo in first grade after swim class, swirling in the urinal, my tears made into a magazine of bullets. Jonah obeyed the laws of traffic at the wrong time, the hood of the car snapping the frame of his bicycle, the splintering parts grafting into the left side of his body before falling between the gums of the white crosswalk paint; it was the last time he made me cry. Two years later, my friends and I finally visited his grave. The Irish pub of revenge entered my chest and I jigged “you're fucking worm food and I'm not” on top, the headstone wishing it could nod to the beat.

“What dance would I recommend”, I swirl around, fold it in my left cheek. “Dance like you'd want someone to dance on your grave.”

Table of Contents

Pythagorean (March 20, 2010. Issue 15. The DirtyDirty.)

The first time Cassandra spent the night with her new girlfriend, I pretended I could see them together through a wine bottle.  I clung to the hangover until Cassie walked in our apartment like a transcription. 

I got better each time my wife slept over at her girlfriend's, empty beer cans pressed against the wall, the scoliosis of Greyhound buses on the way to out-of-town shows.

I always wanted to be the base of a love triangle, open condom wrappers like a Pentecostal church but I was more of a parallel line.  I was o.k. with this as long as the promise of being lashed to a chair like a mast was there, where a thousand syllables would last longer than pictures.

Table of Contents

Two Poems (December 20, 2009. Issue 12.)

The Kama Sutra of Charles Bukowski

I will bang you like a typewriter,
tap the draft spout of that ass
until you coat my face in poverty,
tattoo the number 8 on your sides,
bet you will grow up to be glue,
a stickiness forgotten like onion skin,
the last bullet.

The Kama Sutra of Lou Dobbs

I will maul you like the truth,
advertise your dentist with
my thighs, turn your throat
into a protest.

Know I don't believe
in open borders; chastity
tastes sweeter when
it's xenophobic.

Table of Contents

The Legendary