right hand pointing
Copyright 2021 by Brad Rose.
All rights reserved.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to The American Journal of Poetry and Six Sentences who published earlier versions of some of the poems contained in this chapbook.
Jack's New Leg
At our class reunion, no one mentioned it. It would have been cruel and insensitive. Hoping to avoid any appearance of pity, Marty even refused to help him sit down, although it was clear to everyone gathered, Jack was in lot of pain as he collapsed into his seat. Then Jack said, And that’s not the only thing I lost. Like machine gun fire, mortified glances shot around the table.
Why are there 5,280 feet in a mile? Once, a little man felt tall. There are messages. There are always messages. I tend to fall asleep on time. Yesterday, I made myself invisible. Everyone must wear their own face. I’m of two minds, but I have a kitchenette. I’m very comfortable. My house is inside out. What kind of flowers are those funny flowers? When Justine left she said, It’s not you, it’s me. Thursday, I sold my plasma. Then, like a flying fish, I dreamt of rain.
I’ve got a confession to make; I spend too much time with giraffes, but I hate to miss an opportunity to overcome my fear of heights. Alexander the Great never lost a battle, even in darkness. Thanks to onomatopoeia I wear my sharkskin houndstooth suit. I love animal haberdashery. Last weekend, I went to an imposter yard sale. Despite the sign, the yard had been donated to a worthy cause. I have to admit it; I’ve never seen so many bullet holes in one garage door. Here’s to hoping there are no more pet suicides in that neighborhood. I’d like to go back there sometime. When the lightning is brighter.
Me and Mrs. X
Two counties over, me and Mrs. X sit in a booth at the back of BBQ Jack’s Rib House. We’re joking and laughing, carefree as Adam and Eve at their first picnic. A little gold cross dangles from her neck, as she leans even closer and whispers in my ear, What the hell are husbands for, anyway? She giggles that little girl giggle, and I kiss her again, but this time I keep my eyes open. Outside, the dark sky unlocks like a jail cell, and a sudden rain begins to pound down. As if a clean, hard, downpour might wash away all the sin in the world.
It’s a bright grey day and my automated friends have immolated themselves. Amid the hidden costs, I check for my whereabouts. In the dawn of a new chill, I discover I have a perfect body for experimental sleeping. A few words come to me, like hovering jackals, lucky as gods. The findings are not replicable. Civilization contributes only its share to self-improvement. Take a look for yourself. When things return to normal, I hope I don’t become trapped. Here, for example, are more people and buildings for kindling.
What I Learned from Hemingway
I’m an oenophile, so I’m not afraid of bulls. Wednesday, I realized that if I lose a limb, it probably won’t grow back. And not a minute too soon, Lady Charise said. Those animals are fast. Do you think it’s the caffeine? I have, of course, kissed other girls.
Wouldn't Want You to Go to Any Trouble
Could those be clouds? I hope they don’t get trapped. Now, maybe everything will be different. You know the kind of vibe I mean. Kind of a hangdog Weltschmerz, only more photogenic, like the first photograph of lightning. What do you suppose your bedroom says about you? Of course, now everything is previous, if not already too late. As soon as I make a quick call to the IRS, we’ll celebrate. I own a tuxedo. It’s automatic, if you push the right buttons. Doesn’t everyone?
My Memories of the Police Academy
No one could identify the body; not in the shape it was in. The early Spring breeze was frail and hesitant. There were no witnesses, no clues. In all my years on the force, I hadn’t seen a sight quite like this. Years ago, at the Academy, my instructor had said, Be careful. That’s exactly when everything starts to ignite.
Maryanne looked good in everything. It’s too bad she didn’t fire her deadbeat husband, when I asked her. Last night, I got home early and watched the news. The police believe the torched victim was not actually the intended target. You know how it’s always hot in Texas? I say, Let it burn.
Hitman Visits the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
I overhear a teenage girl say to another teenage girl, I didn't tell Mom we were the ones who killed the cat. The cherry trees bloom like pink bombs. It's early Spring. The day is sunny as an egg. Aimless as a stray bullet, the wind blows past me, as I wonder, Have I chosen the wrong career?
Tired of the Pursuit of Happiness
I can’t tell if things are as bad as they seem or worse than they are. I guess it’s no use pretending any longer I’m good at planning emergencies. Besides, those socks are too big to fill and I’m tired of pulling the wool over my eyes. Incidentally, Einstein took a course in time management, and nearly failed. Perhaps it was the result of a dueling accident? Long ago, I was taught that in order to rehabilitate my character, I should fight fire with fire. Or was it the other way around?
Like Father, Like Son
The day after his dad died, Travis found a nude picture of Travis’ mom hidden in his Dad’s old bible. Life is like a simile. The next day, like a plane crash at sea, Travis disappeared. I find this quite similar to where sunlight meets a mirror. A clear, calm day, with nothing in it. A replica of the vanished.
Back at You
I brush my horse with a horsehair brush. It doesn’t seem fair. After I put a few things in order and finish up here, I’m going to read my new book: Writing Conclusions: A Guide for Beginners. Some people think I’m just a dumb blonde redhead. My medical chart says, Do Not Resuscitate. Thanks, and the same to you.
The honkytonk disco rhumba should be self-explanatory. The first chance I get, I’m going to feed it to my enemies. They deserve it. After the ergonomic downsizing, I’ll demagnetize my draconian cuddle wiggle and go on about my business. A room doesn’t paint itself, you know. Sure, the miniature elevators are cute, but they require a special kind of courage, so I’m working on saying thank you more often and consulting with my trial-and-error attorney. Not everything can wait like a stone. Something’s got to be done about it. And that’s not the only thing that’s stopping me.
The accidents grow tired of waiting. It’s bound to happen. So, I put on my volcano hat. Gotta love the lava, although I’m in no position to offer relationship advice. No really, there’s a lot of history in outer space. Best to keep it under the radar. I think about it mostly after I go to sleep. Of course, it is what it isn’t, which is why I’m studying animal alphabets. Grasshopper is my favorite. No sir, I haven’t forgotten where I come from. And about that damn monkey. Couldn’t possibly have known it was loaded.
To get the animals’ attention, I’m conducting a science experiment at home. I’m tired of all their rhetoric. They’ll learn to follow orders. I’m not afraid of my dreams anymore. I’m going to keep it that way. Down in the boiler room, it’s quiet as a sunken boat. I’ve got the coordinates. Satan isn’t hard to locate. At first, I couldn’t tell which side he was on, but then I thought about all his voices. One said, Use everything but the neck. Step 3 is always the hardest. But it’s OK. As long as you do it in small batches.
Some people find it easy to adjust their controls. If I rename myself, I’ll have nothing to hide. Overhead, in a blue, dead-sea sky, statues of clouds sculpt themselves. Listen. Does a drowning man admire the beautiful sunlight? You can’t forget what you don’t remember. When the day becomes a tunnel, I laugh with the trees.
Long Black Car
This time of year, the words on everyone’s lips are, No, no, not now. Speaking of the dead; they come from a long, venerable line. But who’s counting? Not even the mathematicians. A similar method is used in slaughterhouses. I’ll spare you the details. My advice to you, Stay focused. One size fits all. Although many quantum theorists say we should abandon any notion of cause and effect, nothing succeeds like success. Discreetly, I whisper to Mr. Ruby, Pull up the hearse. And wouldn’t you know it? Just like that.
was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is a sociologist, and author three full-length collections of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015), de/tonations, (Nixes Mate Press, 2020), and Momentary Turbulence (Cernvena Barva Press, 2020). WordinEdgeWise from Cerven Barva Press is forthcoming in later 2021. Six times nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and twice nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in over one hundred journals, including The Los Angeles Times, The American Journal of Poetry, New York Quarterly, Clockhouse, Folio, Lunch Ticket, The Baltimore Review, Into the Void, Boston Literary Magazine, Hunger Mountain, Sequestrum, 45th Parallel, and other publications. His story “Desert Motel,” appears in Best Microfiction, 2019. Brad is also the author of five poetry chapbooks:Democracy of Secrets, Dancing School Nerves, An Evil Twin is Always in Good Company, Coyotes Circle the Party Store and Away with Words.