Adam Fieled (Philadelphia, USA): from Apparition Poems


Wood-floored bar on Rue St. Catharine—
you danced, I sat, soused as Herod,
sipped vodka tonic, endless bland
medley belting out of the jukebox—
you smiling, I occupied keeping you happy,
un-frazzled— suddenly sounds behind us,
the bar wasn’t crowded & a patron
(rakish, whisker-flecked big mouth)
lifted a forefinger at beer-bellied
bartender bitching back, soon a real
fight, violence in quiet midnight,
I, scared, got you out of there

but you had to dance, you said,
had to dance so we paved Plateau, tense steps,
found nothing, you started crying & stamping
your feet like a child, I grabbed you & dragged
you back to our room you stripped, curled
into fetal position, beat your fists against
the mattress, in this way you danced
through the night, dozed & woke ready for more—


The father’s gaze (depending which gaze
you happen to be referring to) is panoptic.
It goes in without leaving traces. So if you
have several fathers that leave no traces, &

merely invisible gazes, there is or maybe a
sense in which you have no fathers. I saw
all this happening to me, along with every
thing else, many years ago, before I could

visualize the cell I was in, before I knew
how the walls stank of fresh paint, or saw
that I was getting smeared at any juncture.
But, as I saw this, my father who was my

father turned, spoke down to me in such
a way that I listened. I took what he said,
gazed at my cell, and watched the paint dry
deep into the night before I busted out to
 watch the dawn break over the Delaware


“Be careful what you handle,”
I told her, “you can get to me
even if you touch another,” it
happened in an office shaped
like the foyer of a huge hovel,
built of mud, etchings of bugs
on the wall, perfect perverse
kids scampering among clods.

“You know what I want, and
how I can get it,” she replied,
as she took another out, put
me in, but only inside a brain
used amiss to find a level that,
shaped like a foyer, was past
office, into brick, sans mud.


Every live body has a dialect:
to the extent that bodies are
in the process of effacing both
themselves, what they efface, I
move past dialect to the extent
that there are no no-brainers
here, what’s moral in this is the
belief that properly used dialects
emanate waves to hold bodies
in place. As to who’s saying this,
I heard this on the street last
night after a few drinks with
an ex at Dirty Frank's. It was
a bum who meant it, it worked.


Follow Abraham up the hill:
to the extent that the hill is
constituted already by kinds
of knives, to what extent can
a man go up a hill, shepherd
a son to be sacrificed, to be
worthy before an almighty
power that may or may not
have had conscious intentions

where hills, knives, sons were
concerned, but how, as I watch
this, can I not feel that Abraham,
by braving knives, does not need
the one he holds in his rapt hands?

#555 from Apparition Poems can be heard on PennSound here.

#1603, 1607, 1613 can also be heard on PennSound.

© Adam Fieled 2010

Aaron Belz (Los Angeles, USA): Two Poems


This morning the universe
divulged its secret:

“There is no huggy bear.”
Then the universe

sat for a moment
as if in deep thought.

“Rather, huggy bear
is ill and about to die.”

The universe stood up
and shrugged.

“I guess you just do
the best you can, right?”

No, I thought.
That can’t be right.

There must be a back door
to get out of this place.

Then I developed
kaleidoscopic vision.

Everything became
multiplied and divided,

and it was slowly turning.
This must be how

sees the world, I thought.


To avoid certain phrases, such as “like the plague,”
but how desperately were we to avoid them?
She had deprived herself of a way to express this.

“O bubonic plague, bubonic, bubonic. Nothing else
is as bubonic as you!” began one of my essays,
for nothing was, until you came along, my dear.

You proved even more bubonic than the plague,
so I avoided you like the blague—that is to say,
like the joke, trick, or blunder. It’s a French word.

Kelley White (New Hampshire, USA): from Salt Suite

SALT SUITE I: That Moment We Say Yes to the Water

my good hand an oar
my hair a whisper of torn sail

he offered to wash the sand from my feet

one white feather

as if a bowl of fresh water could keep us safe from the sea
death’s breath
breathing water
to hold all that stiff salt anger
like a phone call about an angry tooth

is it always our mother forcing us to breathe?
and what are sobs but hunger?
and when the mother comes
to lift the shoulders
to make a cup of her chest

now that you can see a little light
what have you
brought up
from the bottom?

the man with the puffed pink scars down his chest?
iron feathers?

what living water?

SALT SUITE II: It Takes a Long Time to Get Past a House

I’d like a jar without sides
I’d like an empty skate
one broken egg, womb warm

“It was the way she welcomed the water,
her thirst, eyes open, gulping great mouth
fulls even as she pushed beneath the skin
and let the it cover her face,
willful, her drunk exhausted
arms, that was the shock,
to see her swallow death, to suck
at death’s breast. . .”

(who did this thing? sinking flowers
in the sand?
the stones know where it is safe
to lie)

I’d like an angry shovel
an abandoned umbrella
I’d like a painted stone

SALT SUITE III: A Painted Stone

she drank, her body face
up and staring
that heavy hair
to hold all that stiff
salt anger

the stones know
where it is safe to lie

if I led you to the water,
if I eased you in, back
against the tide, would
you trust me
to keep you breathing?

would I trust you
to breathe?

death’s breath
not breathing water

as if a bowl of fresh water
could keep us safe
from the sea

Jeffrey Side (London, UK): The Semantic Limitations of Visual Poetry

In The Reader, the Text, the Poem, Louise Rosenblatt says: ‘The poem, then, must be thought of as an event in time. It is not an object or an ideal entity. It happens during a coming-together, a co-penetration, of a reader and a text’. She later elaborates:

The reading of a text is an event occurring at a particular time in a particular environment at a particular moment in the life history of the reader. The transaction will involve not only the past experience but also the present state and present interests or preoccupations of the reader. This suggests the possibility that printed marks on a page may even become different linguistic symbols by virtue of transactions with different readers. Just as knowing is the process linking a knower and a known, so a poem should not be thought of as an object, an entity, but rather as an active process lived through during the relationship between a reader and a text.

For the poem to be experienced as an event in time, the importance of mental activity, or “internalisation”, in the reader cannot be overestimated. By internalisation I mean that part of the reader’s response that is able, through conscious decision, to minimise the relevance of the text in the hermeneutical process. This is difficult to achieve with poetry in which the artifice (in the form of certain extra-lexical ingredients—such as the visual and acoustic) is fore-grounded at the expense of semantic elements. Such poetry inhibits internalisation and is, as Charles Bernstein has said, ‘concerned only with representing its own mechanisms’.

These elements of artifice are, like painting and music, non-semantic and, as such, they preclude an exegetical response that is distinct from the hermeneutical procedures employed in the reception of non-representational visual art and music. In ‘The Dollar Value of Poetry’ Charles Bernstein advocates a poetics that is grounded in experiences that are released in the reading. In this sense, then, poetry is seen as being untranslatable and un-paraphrasable for ‘what is untranslatable is the sum of all the specific conditions of the experience (place, time, order, light, mood, position, to infinity) made available by reading’. Bernstein sees this untranslatability as being misunderstood by advocates of ‘certain “concretist” tendencies, who see in radical concrete procedures the manifestation of untranslatability at its fullest flowering’. As Bernstein, stresses ‘what is not translatable is the experience released in the reading’. He goes on to say that ‘in so far as some “visual poems” move toward making the understanding independent of the language it is written in, i.e., no longer requiring translation, they are, indeed, no longer so much writing as works of visual art. In ‘Words and Pictures’, he emphasises the linguistic and semantic criteria necessary for any aesthetic of viewer/reception theory to be plausible: ‘visual experience is only validated when accompanied by a logico-verbal explanation’. For Bernstein, then, as he says in ‘Thought’s Measure’, ‘there is meaning only in terms of language’.

Furthermore, he is well aware of the dangers of too much foregrounding of artifice when he writes in ‘Artifice of Absorption’:

In my poems, I
frequently use opaque & nonabsorbable
elements, digressions &
interruptions, as part of a technological
arsenal to create a more powerful
(“souped up”)
absorption than possible with traditional,
& blander, absorptive techniques. This is a
precarious road because insofar
as the poem seems
overtly self conscious, as opposed to internally
incantatory or psychically
actual, it may produce
self consciousness in the reader in such a way as to
destroy his or her absorption by theatricalizing
or conceptualizing the text, removing
it from the realm of an experience engendered
to that of a technique

Bernstein welcomes internalisation. Without it, it is impossible for poetry to be experienced as an event in time. However, he does tend to view the semantic field as incorporating non-lexical features of a poem. While I agree with incorporation in principle, in practice it is psychologically problematical for most readers. This is perhaps why such poetry is deemed “difficult”.

It could be argued that visual poetry is, indeed, semantic. I agree to an extent. For instance, Ernst Gomringer’s ‘WIND’ (which plays with associations such as the words "in" and “win” contained within the word "WIND”) and Augusto de Campos's ‘CODIGO’ (which contains the word "God" as an anagram and alludes to "cogito ergo sum”) do, indeed, operate semantically. Nevertheless, their semantic operations are extremely meagre. With ‘WIND’ the associations come to only two words: “win” and “in” (perhaps also the word “wind”, as in to wind a clock). The same limitations can be seen in de Campos's ‘CODIGO’. Apart from a reader’s fleeting appreciation of the novel aspects of these poems their affects are exhausted no sooner than they are recognised.

In contrast, if we compare the following lines from ‘Into the Day’ by J. H. Prynne with ‘WIND’ and ‘CODIGO’ we can see their limitations more clearly:

Who does we reign our royal house
is roofed with fateful slates

These lines begin with the words ‘who does’ which immediately puts us into questioning mode, but the next word, ‘we’, draws our attention to the grammatical inappropriateness of the preceding word, ‘does’, in its location between ‘who’ and ‘we’. We have been led to expect a question but the grammatically incorrect syntax has frustrated this expectation. We are left instead with a language that rather than denoting a position of enquiry relies, instead, on connotation for this effect. This sort of “question” belongs to an "enquiry" that is syntactical rather than referential. In other words it is language pretending to be a question.

Similarly, ‘our royal house is roofed with fateful slates’ although syntactically correct contain the juxtaposition of ‘fateful’ with ‘slates’, two words not usually associated or combined with each other. This cannot be said of ‘roofed’ and ‘slate’ which often share the same juxtaposition. If the word ‘fateful’ had not been included there would be little room for plurality of meaning. The word ‘slates’ would mean solely roofing materials. It is the juxtaposition of ‘fateful’ and ‘slates’ that produces the plurality. A few of the dictionary definitions of the word ‘slate’ are: 1) a fine-grained rock that can be easily split into thin layers and is used as a roofing material. 2) a roofing tile of slate. 3) a writing tablet of slate. 4) a dark grey colour. 5) a list of candidates in an election. ‘Slate’ is, thus, rich in connotation. The addition of ‘fateful’ enables any one of these meanings to become appropriate. For example, it is quite possible to have a fateful dark grey colour—as in the sense of an omen. So, too, is it possible to have a fateful group of electoral candidates.

If we were to choose this latter image for one of the meanings of ‘fateful slates’ we could make it fit into the rest of the sentence (if it can rightly be called one) by opening up the meanings of ‘our royal house is roofed with’. This is fairly simple, as the idea of electoral candidates enables ‘royal house’ to connote a political arena of some sort as suggested by the word ‘house’ (The Houses of Parliament or The White House, for example). The word ‘roofed’ connotes a ‘covering-over’—a protection of some sort, as in the image of a bird’s wing covering and protecting its young. If we take this as our connotation, then one of the many meanings of ‘our royal house is roofed with fateful slates’ could be: ‘Our political system is protected from tyranny by its processes of electing political candidates who are under oath (fated) to guarantee this freedom from tyranny’. This interpretation of Prynne's 12 words is only possible with a richer semantic field of possibilities than both ‘WIND’ and ‘CODIGO’ provide.

The formal qualities of a poem are, of course, important but only indirectly: in that they facilitate the inner ear’s appreciation of the poem’s sonorous qualities. They do not contribute overmuch semantically. The only thing of importance is the mental activity experienced by the reader. The reader’s attention should not be focused on the poem’s structure or its rhetorical devices but, rather, should be concentrated on the resonance produced by the semantic qualities of the lexis. Only in this way, then, can the poem be fully experienced as mental activity. It must be remembered that a poem is primarily “heard” in the mind. All that we are able to glean from a poem is conveyed through the poems semantic operation. To argue that the formal qualities of the text facilitate a more than limited semantic response is to rely too heavily on an aesthetic theory that is more appropriate to the visual arts.

Editor’s Footnote: I was unable to format this piece so that Jeffrey’s footnote numbers would appear in the piece. Their omission is my responsibility, not Jeffrey’s.

L. M. Rosenblatt, The Reader, the Text, the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work (Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978), p.12.
Rosenblatt, pp. 20-21.
Rosenblatt’s attitude to the relevance of the text can be seen in the following quotation where she comments on the titles of literary works: ‘But when we try to think of what a title—Hamlet, say, or Moby Dick—might refer to apart from a reader, whether the author himself or another, “the work” disappears. The title then refers simply to a set of black marks on ordered pages or to a set of sounds vibrating in the air, waiting for some reader or listener to interpret them as verbal symbols and, under their guidance, to make a work of art, the poem or novel or play’. See The Reader, the Text, the Poem, pp.12-13.
Charles Bernstein, A Poetics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), p.10.
Bernstein, Content’s Dream, p.58.
Bernstein, Content’s Dream, p.58.
Bernstein, Content’s Dream, p.58.
Bernstein, Content’s Dream, p.125.
Bernstein, Content’s Dream, p.62.
Bernstein, A Poetics, pp.52-53.
email correspondence with Charles Bernstein dated June 26, 2005.

Mark Young (Rockhampton, Australia): from Geographies



The black hats draw on the
testimony of French combatants
in order to place the object in
a logical relationship to the rest
of the sentence. Mick Jagger
is no exception even though
he appears as an absent image—
all dharmas are ultimately empty
of any distinction that would
separate one dharma from
another. China looms large,
offering free audio pronunciation
of consumer-generated product
reviews. There are no rail-
ways. The beavers must die.


It was the spatial
frequencies at the
Fourier transform plane
& the presence of
defense attorneys
dressed in their best
suits that finally
brought him to belief
in the Big Bang theory
of the creation of the



A fairly small
event in terms of
plate tectonics;
but the hard drive
ends up stripped
of all encrypted
data. Tabula rasa.


Storm surge, river-
boat casinos, the
biggest fertiliser plant
in the world, why
anyone would waste
over a pound of premo
in a giant joint are
some of the nettle-
some paradoxes of
democratic politics.

© Mark Young 2009

Kelley White (New Hampshire, USA): Two Poems


unhook the latch
blow off dust
lay on the table beneath a single dangling bulb
spine flat
slick leaves open
always to the tight black-lined woodcut
man on man
manu a manu
empty chest
heart beating overhead

It is said that Crazy Horse ate Custer’s heart.
This is not true. Buffalo liver, perhaps.

throw the rib-shell over the priest’s shoulder


this thing
this flabby old muscle
red and growing darker
fat encrusted
drying to tallow
in each chamber
one smooth green stone
like my eyes

ice arrest
the saw cut
that grinding buzz
the dental whine

“hey babe,
I’ll give you water,
I already had
my wine”
(wants a dollar,
give him four bits)

you won’t answer
(the child had
no ear drum)

Henry carved a green stone heart
on a brass stand and marble base.
The children broke it.
No one confessed.
They were all punished.

finger crook-and-pull
my own ribs
and still this hubbub

to become invisible
or rather:
the visible woman
clear plastic
head molded with Berry Crocker
hips a little wide, perhaps
a babe in the womb

ectopia coridis
child with the heart
outside the chest
iac arrest

I will be this small stone you might carry,
the brass paperweight that warms
to your touch,
your mother’s, yours.
Replace my wound
with a stone.
Carry the stone.
Live stone


in the city of sand
we build bone houses
we fear the wind
--it stings our eyes
with broken

in the city of snow we shelter
in frozen breath—

in the salt city
we live inside our wounds
--we wait for the tongue
of our heavy god—

© Kelley White 2009

Jason Bredle (Chicago, USA): Three Poems


What if all of my interactions with others are a figment of my imagination
and I’m actually completely insane
is kind of an unsettling thought I had one day
so I wrote to you
lately I’ve been struggling with reality
and put reality in quotes
to emphasize the struggle
but I didn’t think struggle was the right sentiment
so I looked in a thesaurus but couldn’t find a better word
but did find give the old college try
and tried
to understand what that really means, the old college try,
but I don’t know if college was really real for me
or if all of my interactions with others were a figment of my imagination
and I was completely insane
is what you would’ve heard from me that day
if I hadn’t thrown the note away before giving it to you
because I was afraid you’d think I was completely insane
is something you should never say
to the meat department staff at your neighborhood Dominick’s
because they’ll think you’re completely insane
except for the really old guy who can’t hear anything,
he’ll keep yelling
what, what
and you’ll end up in a situation where you’re yelling all this to him
and others around you will think you’re completely insane
and the point here
is to keep this insanity thing
kind of on the down low
because you’ve spent time in the hospital
and you don’t want
to spend time in the hospital
because it’s so lonely and the gowns are so uncomfortable and the food
is so average
but mostly it’s so lonely,
the way nurses interrupt your sleep at night to replace your IV,
the way nurses wake you in the morning to take your blood,
the way the morning lasts forever and the hospital staff
places you in front of cartoons as if that's enough to get you through the day
but it’s completely maddening
and I’m so sorry for everything I’ve ever done that’s hurt you
because I didn’t mean to
is what I wanted to say that night
I returned from the hospital
and we ate dinner together
and watched Primer for the fifth time
but instead I asked if the nurse
who joked about taking my temperature rectally was flirting with me,
I washed the dishes and wrote The Constipation Sweater, about a sweater
you can wear that helps facilitate defecation.


If all this is happening on an infinite number of parallel membranes
and my life exists separately within each of those parallel membranes
then perhaps some of those existences
occasionally transcend membranes
through some type of telekinetic wormhole
and find their way
into my dreams
and I’ve actually been violently chopped in some of those existences
or my cats are not alive in some of those existences
or I died in a gruesome airline disaster above Mexico City
in March 2006
in some of those existences
which before that time I’d feared was my death dream
and after that time
decided was about how my girlfriend can sleep through anything
is something most people don’t imagine
other people are thinking
as they whip through Dominick’s
on their way home from work each night—
most people are rocking out to Yes’s Owner of a Lonely Heart,
buying tampons and peanut butter cups—
is something I hope to communicate to other me’s
who’ve never had this thought
on all those parallel membranes out there
is another example of something I should really try
to keep on the down low because others may interpret it as insane
is a thought I had one night as I whipped through Dominick’s
rocking out to Owner of a Lonely Heart, buying tampons and pbc’s
but the more intense part of the thought I had was
what if everyone in this place is having this exact same thought
and it’s what Trevor Rabin was thinking
when he wrote Owner of a Lonely Heart
and what if all the other me’s
on all those parallel membranes have already dreamt what I’m thinking
but it didn’t make any fucking sense to them
because those me’s strayed from the me who’s here
in Dominick’s right now
due to decisions they made I wish I’d made
that guided their lives to completely different places
where they have tampons and peanut butter cups but they’ve never heard
of Dominick’s
because they only have Penny Saver’s wherever they are
and they spend their days with refugees from war torn regions,
educating them
or nursing them back to good health
and they wonder
if those they educate or nurse back to good health ever wonder
if all this is happening on an infinite number of parallel membranes
and their lives exist separately within each of those parallel membranes
then perhaps some of those existences
occasionally transcend membranes
through some type of telekinetic wormhole
and find their way into their dreams
because it might explain
the meaning of the dream they had Dominick versus the tampon cup
the same way it might explain the meaning of my dream
phoenix versus the flying chicken.


Let’s say this emerges centuries from now in some type of post-apocalyptic
Dumont Dunes hellscape,
people are either going to be blasting around
from membrane to membrane impressed with my forward thinking
or not blasting around from membrane to membrane
amazed by my total insanity
and I expect the latter
is what most people at this point expect me to say to someone
at my neighborhood Dominick’s
because I don’t do very well
with keeping this insanity thing on the down low
but it’s not something most people expect me
to say to the pudding
at my neighborhood Dominick’s
and the reason I think the latter is because come on,
if you’re living in some type of post-apocalyptic Dumont Dunes hellscape
logic would dictate that earth has regressed
from where it is now
unless the educational divide has become so extreme
that the highly educated have wormholed their way
to more tolerable parallel membranes
and left this post-apocalyptic Dumont Dunes hellscape to those of us
who enjoy tearing into a good piece of meat with our hands
and pleading to our faithful squadron to
bring us the head
of Orpheus the Mighty
for the Night of the Jaguar is upon us
and blood will surely flow
red like the river Hades through this long ago forsaken hellscape
in which case
descendents, I salute thee!
is something we’ve all thought about at some point
as we whipped through Dominick’s on our way home from work at night,
but how many of us have outlined
everything we have in common with the jaguar
on the back of our grocery lists
in the hope that we might be revered
in the chance this future outcome happens?
Here’s mine:
We are both solitary, stalk-and-ambush predators.
We are both opportunistic in prey selection.
We both bite directly through the skull of our prey.
We both enjoy swimming.
We both range from Paraguay to México.
We are both compact and well-muscled, with robust heads and powerful jaws.
We both reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age.
We both practice aggression avoidance behavior.
We are both the national animal of Guyana.
Of course it’d be ridiculous for me to want to be worshipped for this type
of forward thinking
but I think revered would be nice
but I don’t know, in this scenario there’s probably not
a lot of reading going on
but instead a lot of heat and blood and dunes
and filth and false idolatry
but the good news is if someone does read this,
I’m not going to seem totally insane
because the Night of the Jaguar is upon us, my brethren,
and blood is about to flow red like the river Hades, red like the river Hades
as you go forth and bring me the head of Orpheus the Mighty!

© Jason Bredle 2009

Jean Vengua (California, USA): Three Prose Poems


what do you think. half sleepy, once again on the other side of pain, ad nauseum, etc. she thinks about the angry blooms. how they emerge with such force, and with a little careful coaxing they give up black pollen. upended like that. turning volatile inside out, she can’t figure it. wants to sew it up tight with a needle and thread; wants a beginning and an end. she has a body and expects it to tell tales. a tale of a prehensile tail. well what does it have to say for itself? from which joint or talon or lip or tongue issues word? half a word. half a moan, then, in exchange for some tender strokes.

a blossoming non-pain along the elbow, even to the shoulder. pain of short shrift and some dribbles of light, and there among the curved rafters under the breasts. soft containment, the flesh thinning with age. sometimes turning the tongue on a word. nipples that are concise, small territories, templed; and these, once dark, that have paled and lost their boundaries. shift shift click. the knee dreams of fluffy pews. the back of the neck dreaming of ice. the tongue dreaming of ribs. stretch marks pay tributary to the navel, a locked door, both sides. where once there was a vortex of blood, there are a few paths narrowing to a stop.

she feels old. can’t understand she’s beautiful, even naked, plastered in signs and executed like once-perfect britney. “nudity is not a crime.” even when perfectly wet or close up, each hair is an aging fold, a suzanne, or a polly jean in the tub. the aesthetics speak imperfect and fleshy nouns. English wants to be precise. to be indirect is the best prescription. (sigh) i can’t stand these colors. the colors of autumn are electric collars for your gender. this muscle is a girdle that contains all erotics; although your erotics are not my erotics, we may meet in the middle (joined at the navel, so to speak). look: language falls down around my ankles, so revealing.

© Jean Vengua 2009

Adam Fieled (Philadelphia, USA): from Apparition Poems


What’s this about making moves, said
the apprentice? I’ve got irons in the fire
with all these pieces, isn’t that enough?
To have mastered how the fire works,
so that each piece burns right down: it’s
not the only move that matters, but as
I just made a line of rooks rather than
pawns, what else could possibly get my
goat? The master heard this, appearing

limber, but quite chained to the voices
that were taking away the tools he used
to put his apprentices in their places. I
have nothing to say about this, he said,
as he wiped beads of sweat from a brow
that furrowed so intensely that all his
enemies insisted he had dark ties. Just
make rows of rooks instead of pawns,
and you will find yourselves kings and

queens. They all left him that night, after
dumping the ashes in a river that ran in
back of the workshop, into a black sea.


in your “not-I”
saying is sex
phonemes go
fricatives fill
in space for “I”
it’s all I said
(was I saying
anything red
for yr blood in
you at all for

being me?)

Listen to #1651 on PennSound here.

Listen to #564 on PennSound here

© Adam Fieled 2010

Paul Siegell (Philly, Pa): Six Poems


the road otherworldly, “anyone else wanna see themselves
******on tv?”
the road otherworldly, crisis leadership and a discount on
******decisions when we’d really rather pay full price
the road otherworldly, sometimes everything in the salad
******tastes like produce grown on another planet

pick up a couple even tho they might be slightly troublesome

the road otherworldly, truckers who haul hazardous cargo
the road otherworldly, hurried the urine shot through urethra
the road otherworldly, to be gradually gravitating toward
******“Nothing. What’s new with you?”

from the rooftops we watch for the meteors of metaphor

the road otherworldly, Abraham, Alabama, iIn my tears for
*****America: today just needs to get on with it and let us
*********go already
the road otherworldly, poem Obama, Optimus Prime, Obama
******on Mount Olympus: (shepherd a breathtaking backfire?)
*all the hopes for Obama bohemia—
the road otherworldly, my coworker just sneezed


With prayers left in the crevices, tour-guided Americans lean against
stone, lick vanilla, speak of Wailing Wall and how incredible.

Bareback on a beast, a Palestinian boy plods up, shows off for the brand named,
whacks his donkey’s neck with a stick, quick, made from black irrigation tubing.

“—Whoa!” go the Americans.

Smirks. Goes around the corner.

Tzit tzit dangling, yarmulke’d yeshiva boys carry planks of wood
into the Old City for Lag B’Omer bonfires. Picnic festive and family full.

Little, they use the wall, masonry a few feet high, to slide the planks and rest.
Ice cream Americans smile, say Shalom, giggle with and get outta their way.

Returned, boy-with-burden meets boys-with-firewood and the Holy Land
comes out of camouflage.

Each in each other’s way. Language is used. Grips on the planks of wood
change, tighten, raise, as does the irrigation tube—

“—Yeladim!” detonates down from an apartment window above.
“—Yeladim! Yeladim!” a barrel chest yells. Yeladim means children.

*it is its self to be*

out of an avid gale, a hurricane of shape-shifting persuasion, the line

“of being born a trumpet” steers its sharps into the audience of dance

moves & their domain names: am I not the notes being played as well?

no ordinary hit a-the old http://, such weight of wakeful conversation:

out of the clarion lift, in the calisthenics of the scenery, wide breaths

[esc] toward something

*weird about the way*

the greatest quiet

betwixt the visual elixir
of emeralds

in Esmeralda’s ears.

related searches
in the avocado daylight

find the too

amongst the vacancies
of design

in a sold-out crowd
of cats wearing wheels.

but even then,

walking into the cough
of a Bono wannabe

’s got nothing
on the emptiest of inboxes.

*05.24.08 – JamontheRiver – Festival Pier, PA*
(—Thank You, Drew G!)

we pull up like a rickshaw
of firecrackers

he slips off his sunglasses, squeezes
drops in his eyes

fuses taunt the ticket-takers

ripped for Grimace, the Biscuits, the Flaming Lips


dyslexics, diggers

out for the apple, falafel, seven bucks for a beer

audition obedient, starry-eyed

three girls with eyeliner
smirk, slink into their brainstorm-mindset headlands

tympanic membranes escalated, bug-eyed

a guy with earlobes stretched by eyelets: expanders,
the kind you can see through, pockets his lighter

speaker-pumped chest thumps

a security guard with bright orange plastic plugs
shielding him from the deafening—

we pull up like a rickshaw of firecrackers, eardrums
triumphant, irradiated

and raging

*toast: is this a joke?*
(—for M. Mayers)

in the event
of an attack

against the United States


the possibility


nuclear war,

feel free,
my fellow heads,

and get bombed


before dead.

Joseph Bradshaw (Portland, Oregon): Two Poems


“the Roman god of borders, Terminus taught us our limits but also showed us the unknown”
Kathleen Peterson

In the terminal
shadows cast block
unyellowed light.

A room opens
to rooms, smaller
to larger, stucco

chipped, conceals
a swimming baby within
these walls, a

bird flown in through absent
chimney rustles
in the black that

of heard and known.
In the terminal, stepping

from the house
we have written we are
in the house, we cross it

out with a dash placed
between us as if
to connect, as if

a house was there—
the T stands alone, separates

He stands, alone.
In the terminal, I
see him walking as

if crossing a bridge, nothing
stands between to hold
past to will.

for Spicer

windy, eddies
before Thanksgiving.

A spider crawling
out the door
receives goodbye

the same as I
8 legs Wednesday
four Friday. Less

windy the sea-
shore in landlock
states: Shut the door

on a spider
the song goes:

Shut the door
or the words
we receive

a legless Goodbye
in this wedding
of Wednesday

a spider:
The saying of,
not the spoken of

Windy, eddies
before Thanksgiving

is hereby wedded
to a storm
a storm I said

The door is shut.
There isn’t a door.
Shut the door.

By Sunday
we won’t have any
need for that jar.

© Joseph Bradshaw 2009