An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
Talk to my gut, a glass of sand, pinprick of blood.
The more I babel my tongue, the more I bite it. Each time
one less lunar concerto, one more listing crow. Dissolve
my internal warts. Sleeping with a map underneath
the mattress pulls a tart apple in five directions. Only
at the aviary could I find a breadcrumb in the shape of a bird
with a feathered tongue. In Omaha, I began to draw
on my body all the swifts one river can bear. Talk
to my tongue, glass of sand, pinprick of ink. Dissolve
my internal wants. Expel that sing-song voice:
Shall I inflate the crows now? I won't inflate them
in the house this time, I promise. Draw to me
all the feathers one body can bear. Let them stick
everywhere. Dear Morpheus, the glue that is you.
After Gregory Pardlo's "Written by Himself"
I was born in a box of Cheerios, inside the pantry, near the broom and the bison.
I was born in my mother's armpit, her stubbly flesh smelling of a pickle barrel.
I was born behind a common comma, mapping out the whirling world of my coma.
I was breathing through the pores in my feet, pouring out a fog which would later say,
Edgar Allen Poe poured whiskey on his Wheaties.
I was born with my head in my mouth, tongue in my brain, my blood pounding this refrain: All
languages merge into a single incomprehensible language.
I closed my eyes, stars burning through my eyelids, so many stars I knew they had to be ridden
I closed my eyes, and I could see Walt Whitman humping a support beam on the Brooklyn
Bridge, Herman Melville in the planetarium huffing whale blubber, Emily Dickinson in a
black veil scrawling her birth name on the belly of a tomato worm.
I was breathing through every line and stanza I had yet to write, words floating just above and
below the colon in my heart, telling me, Unbind yourself from the hands of the clock,
even as the numbers blister, as they snap, crackle, pop.
I was breathing in all the cigarette smoke I would ever choke on, mulching it into dead leaves.
My first words were Hello, Placental Gravity. Hello, Slug in the Coffee Can Soaking in Kerosene.
My first words were Everyone, take to your bomb shelter now. Leave behind your welts and
I was, I was, and yet I was not yet born. This all happened when it will happen, only then and now.
No, I was born on the back of a velvet ant, wearing a tin crown. Laden with Lucky Charms.
Before My First, After My Last, I Wear Dirt's Shirt
That shirt I buried belonged to my father, his lifespan of breathing dirt. I didn't care that the shirt would remain alive and alert in the dirt. Oh, to dig a shirt out of the earth and wear it for a little while above the dirt. It wasn't that the shirt had had relations with some malodorous dirt. I should let the dirt bury whatever it wants to bury in the dirt. Dirt to dirt, I said over the hole in the earth, shirt to shirt. As we all know, a shirt should never be worn by shapeless or even shapely dirt. I should never have listened to those holes eating the collar of the shirt. I buried the shirt because... because all around me there was so much dirt. I should not have let something that commingled with skin commingle with dirt. I don't really want to know what happens when dirt begins to inhabit a shirt. I've buried the ashes of a sickly cat, a contaminated book, but never a still breathing shirt. If only I'd listened to the sky and let the shirt expire in a tree like withered dirt. And if the shirt should rise up and flail its flimsy arms, flinging loose pebbles and dirt? Oh, to fall to the dirt and vanish at the same moment as your earthly shirt.
John Bradley is the author of six collections of poetry and prose, the most recent poetry books being And Thereby Everything (Longhouse, 2015), which relates a story of Billy the Kid conjuring Henry Ford, and Erotica Atomica, a collection of nuclear age poems published by WordTech in 2017. He teaches at Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, Illinois.