Tail Of The Dragon
Concluding the first year of the Millenium
by Christopher J. Bradley Completed December 31 2000 12:25 AM
An Afternoon Out Alone
by Christopher J. Bradley
8/9/00 10:46:16 PM
Today I spent an afternoon out
Drove my Saturn to the Cafe'
Through the beginning of a Thunderstorm
And waited in line for a restroom.
I ordered a Mocha
And sat down
Delighted to encounter an old friend
A Bag Maker who'd survived a heart attack.
He had been playing chess
With an African and maybe an Arabian
At the place I call the Spot
As many others do...
We talked in the ferocious rain
On the patio
Where he told me about his implant
And we discussed the merits of American Health.
I knew he needed transportation
So I gave him a quick ride back to Allen
And then circled around back to Elmwood Avenue
And drove all the way up the well lit strip to the theater.
I watched the Coyote Ugly
After being harassed by the nameless ticket seller
Who wasn't fond of the film
Which turned out to be a great deal better than I had expected.
I drove up Delaware on the way home
And cut over Sheridan to the Boulevard
To stop at my favorite bookstore
To buy a copy of this morning's Wall Street Journal.
Then with the fifty cents in my pocket
I decided to take the express way home
and make it an early night
So that I could write this poem.
While my father and brother watched Toy Story on Video Cassette.
And my sister kept me from the Internet for a minute long enough.
Electronic Music Workshop
Dedicated to Bernard Pasquintino Chris Udy Mark Traine Rob Brown Craig Hyla
Paula Bucelato Paul Wos the Jazz musicians of The Niagara Falls High School Band
and my fellow students.
by Christopher J. Bradley
4/8/00 6:20:00 AM
Where was I at the beginning of it all?
The era of direct to analog?
Sample to Sequence to Four Track...
Staring at a catalog for a Fairlight...
I Bombed into the studio running
With barely a wit about me
Just knowing that I could do it
I could be my own Peter Gabriel.
How could Paula in homeroom know she'd changed my life
By showing me the album cover
for Depeche Mode 101
the one I'd kept seeing on Hyla's shirt
As he walked down the hallway with Severely Spiked Hair.
Two weeks and I was figuring out the ESQ-1
Popping beats out on the TR-404.
Four weeks and I was setting MIDI channels
and linking up to the ROLAND S10.
32 channels of bliss
In a four walled dirty white room
With posters on the ceiling.
I locked myself in for study hall
And came out with a disk full of composition
Suddenly there was a new toy in my own room
The Ensoniq Performance Sampler.
And at the end of the year
My "Guitar Trio in C Harmonic Minor"
Came out on 100 cassettes
Along with Pasquintino's
"Mary Had a Little Scarecrow"
And so many others
that the titles are a blur.
The Auditorium blacked out during the
1989 Homecoming Rally
And Sal danced in an Indian Headdress
Made of Construction paper feathers
While the band played.
Traine with his Guitar and Pedals
Udy with the Sequencers and Drum Machines
And Bernie masterfully fingering the black and white plastic
whipped us all into a frenzy.
The three of them won a Casio synth
and several other instruments for the workshop
After a battle of electronica
in New York City.
We had some fun at Christmas that year
in The Wintergarden
Playing our Multi-Layered tunes for
A small but possibly international audience
that included TJ Insana who would later become Jesus
At least for 3 shows.
I started getting Rob Into it
and by 1990 he had an Ensoniq board too
And we slammed some tracks together for
and snapped sticks against drumpads
to trigger Orchastra Hits.
Rob went into the Marines
and By College I was striking my own keys.
But those stories are for prose
And for what you can find from the music
Because the music is really all there is
The rest is just settings for cracked actors
And the life of the sound
Comes from the people who craft it
Even if they are only somewhat famous children
in a world
that only sees
through cathode ray static.
Dedicated to Niagara Catholic High School
by Christopher Bradley
I can't remember how much it cost
or quite what I was up to that summer
but in 1988 I attended driver's education
and drove my first new car.
Of course the car wasn't mine
It was leased to the school
A nice large Buick LeSabre
with Air Conditioning.
I learned all kinds of road signs
and accident statistics
And talked a lot to a shy girl named Amy
who I had worked with for the school in eighty seven.
It was a privilage to learn to drive
and tour a vehicle
around the back streets off of
And pull onto an expressway
for the first time
confident that I would find the
freedom of the road
at every slight maneuver
through the time
of my life.
Dedicated to Isaac Panzarella
and Charlene Scozzafava
by Christopher J. Bradley
4/8/00 4:08:26 AM
It was too real that night
the night we left the dance
the first night I ever thought
I was going to make things happen.
We had plans to get hammered.
It was if the gymnasium had been lacking
in all of its fanfare that year
except for the fact that I had danced with a girl.
She had short curling hair
Together we had learned to speak and write Japanese
Doitachmaschte and Sayonara.
Hiragana and Katakana.
She wore a black dress
with a white rose wrist corsage.
I wore my white suit with black pinstripes
and her floral adornment.
They played one or two songs that defined the time
Information Society - Pure Energy
And we danced to everything slow
Titles I can't remember : Except for Stairway to Heaven.
So we left together
and climbed into Mom and Dad's red wagon
and slowly pulled onto Portage.
I took Ferry and decided to follow 16th back to Pine.
That's when the laughing started
A slightly intoxicated laughter broke through the back
And as I turned to see what was happening
The shadows crept over the stop sign at Walnut.
So there we were
20 feet from clear of the other side of Walnut
And my foot finally hit the brake pedal.
The car stopped.
Terrors of twisted limbs massacred my neurons as I saw the light
Twin beams flashing toward us at 40 miles an hour.
My foot wouldn't move.
And then Fender contacted Axle.
Everything was in motion
Welcome to the Jungle
But somehow we just bounced left and stopped
And everyone was still uniform.
There were flashing lights before I could open my door
A man with a hat a flashlight and a Gun
I got out and talked with him
I had checked to make sure we were all ok.
It was a man who lived on my paper route
He asked me if I had been drinking
I said no
And he wrote me a ticket for failing to yield right of way.
The other driver had been speeding
and he had been following her
Just our luck right?
The Axle absorbed the massive force of the other car
but it cost $800.00 to repair
I had to work it off that year
And Charlene seemed to vanish after Rob and Karen helped me get her home.
Ike and I rode the bus for a couple of weeks
I'm still not sure I'm over it though
It's not exactly like bumping into that first telephone pole
It's something a little closer to Falling "off target" in Skydiver.
End of Shift
By Christopher Bradley
12/7/00 10:55:39 PM
Time to turn off the blenders
And the taps
And the strobe lights
And close the doors.
Time for the people to go away
To their parties
And various places of rest.
They called the bar almost an hour ago
And the last lingerers are making out with the staff
And looking for cab rides away
And counting how much money they have left in their wallets.
We've had a colossal night
And the ceilings have rained with the fire of laser beams
And the women have danced on the speakers
And taken off their shirts.
And the Go-Go dancers have gone
And the Inspectors have Inspected
And the Police have had drink with the People
And the Ambulances have carried the drunks away.
And the DJ was like a Promethean God
With Rhythms and Tempos meshing on the fly
And even a few men have been given to the drunken folly
Of trying to follow a simple beat at 130.
It is time to pack up the flyers
And laminated cards
And clean out the Ice Bins
And pick up the shards.
It's End of Shift now
And we're ready to go
We'll be open tomorrow
Through Rain Hail or Snow.
Roulette and Madame Zilch
By Christopher Bradley
12/7/00 11:35:08 PM
Dedicated to the Roulette Players of the World and Scott Ansel
We called you Madame Zilch
Before the ball Rolled
And we were dead on
How could we have known.
Your name was something Russian
And it sounded harsh
Just like the Zeros
You dealt us with panache.
The wheel kept revolving
For a half hour or so
And we saw all of our numbers
And more pass go
But you kept striking Zero
And spoiling the show
Soon after a Double
And nothing to front
Which made us see trouble
And let's not be blunt.
When you lose at Roulette
It's not always bad luck.
Lunches with Joe
By Christopher Bradley
1/17/00 5:48 AM
Dedicated to Joe Cronin
Joe lives a few blocks away
It seems at times that we are worlds apart.
He has a job as a substitute teacher
At a school in Lewiston.
We had lunch today
At a Chinese restaurant
That he introduced me to
A good while ago.
I started having lunch with him
About 4 years ago
And we started remembering
What all of the times
We had lunch when we were six.
Back then we ate Macaroni and Cheese
And watched cable television.
After school we would play table hockey
In his basement.
I remember a time
A very innocent time
When we played with plastic dinosaurs
In his bathtub.
A few years from then
Joe had collected impressions
Of his favorite television personalities
And I was close by to record them
On the tape recorder
That my mother bought for me my birthday.
Joe got Piano lessons because I had them
And I got a keyboard because Joe had one.
We shared keyboard magazines
Every once in a while
In seventh grade.
Joe was living with his father
For most of high school
And I had a very vague Idea
Of where exactly that was until just before I was leaving for college.
A couple of years ago he gave me a hockey card
He had remembered that I had liked John LeClair somehow
From one of those conversations
Over a table of some kind of food.
I don't know how we started seeing each other again for lunch
It was as if three years disappeared in a haze
But now it is nice when he calls
And I get to remember
That I did have one friend who stuck around
Until this very day.
Joe at George's
By Christopher J. Bradley
7/26/00 7:25:27 PM
Joe takes me to George's
A new restaurant that used to be something else
And I am trying to be calm and forget the banking incident
That I most recently fell prey to.
Things are interesting here
There is no one around
And he is reading the paper
Seeking out apartment possibilities.
I am perplexed as to what to say.
I am poor and it is more than obvious.
I offer my last $3.00 for the tip.
Someday this will all clear up.
It always does
It just keeps taking time.
Rich Tanya Scott Smiley Mark Dante and Alx
by Christopher Bradley
4/14/00 12:28:48 AM
December twenty third nineteen ninety two
The end of my first year home from Chicago
First go at the Biz for myself
I had only an inkling of what I was in for.
Scott and I drove up to Tanya's early in the day
She lived a few streets down behind Yonge and Bay
In a large Red Brick apartment
With narrow staircases.
Scott and I met some of her roomates
And then went for a walk to get Pizza and Change.
It was a long walk across to Yonge on foot.
And we encountered some interesting places along the way.
Somehow weeks later I would find a highly liberal magazine
Dedicated to Angry Dykes
In the trunk of the Shadow
I think we had thought it was amusing during our walk.
We found a small Italian Restaurant
Had a slice or two and a soda
And then resumed until we found the Arcade.
It was almost straight ahead when we got to Yonge.
The vendor sold us neatly wrapped Loonies
and a bundle of red twos.
We walked back
Barely aware of our own conversation.
I was still in amazement at my luck
Sean had gone to Europe
and I was stuck with an exclusive party.
It was as if the world had fallen into my lap.
We snagged Tanya and had her walk us to the subway
and we met Rich the skater
Soon to be the only sober one among us.
We packed Tanya's boyfriend into the car with all of us
and stopped at a Mini-Mart to buy all of their Ice.
The bags melted slowly all around my backseat passengers.
And then we were on our way East to the hidden warehouse.
The structure was longer than I had imagined
but had a low ceiling.
We walked along a Handicapped access ramp at about 9:20.
And dragged the water and Ice behind us.
I dropped my bags in the entranceway when I saw it
It was more than just a test image
It was the Lawnmower Man
He was twisting hexagonal cubes attempting to escape cyber confinement.
The projectors were replicating him on every available wall
Tiny camera looking things
Attached to girders in the ceiling
The speakers were vibrating the room without any music playing.
I saw Alx and asked where we were to go
He showed us to a small room
Where I thought we would never be seen
There was a blacklight bulb in the ceiling.
We grabbed a board with a Jack O Lantern painted on it
And made a makeshift table with a rough metal frame
and Drew Posters on Neon Red and Green Poster Board
And hung them on the sweaty thin grey wooden walls.
I organized the change in the cashbox
Opened the powders
Mixed some test drinks
And then it was time to find a fix.
We found our paper and shared it
One hit of the Dreamscape was enough
And we were sizzling when the first bass beat rolled.
Rich would help us keep our heads together and we barely knew him.
Tanya was going to get what she wanted
I promised her a trip home to Detroit
I was thinking about shopping for Records and stopping off at Karl's
We could never predict that she'd be riding home with a broken nose.
Tanya was the candy girl
I sent her into the masses with Smarties at midnight
To hand them out with paper flyers
Printed out on my 520 and photocopied at OfficeMax.
Mental Jackhammer was having its first run
with customers winding their way into our little party room
Following the flashes of the Strobe Light against the wall
And lining up for Fast Blast and Brain Boost.
Scott was a confused Mixer
While Rich sorted the Cups
And I counted the change.
Everything was going smoothly.
We were addressed by the Master's of Ceremony
And motioned into acts of dancing
Working the table
to the selections of Dr. No Mark Oliver and Alx.
I didn't know the title at the time
But it was the first time I would hear
The Future Sound of London's Papua New Guinea
Wailing through the warm air
Washing chills through the crowd.
I walked among them
Seeing women in silver sequined suits
Smiling and laughing as if in orbit
Feeling like my black canvas converse
were the soft cushions of moon boots.
There was a game to play
I looked on at the fried teens
with their heads in round helmets
standing on magnetic plates
trying to kill the virtual pterodactyl
that swooped down from its perch
to lift them into the air
and drop their cartoon bodies
to the perfectly flat pavement
where they shattered and began again.
I was told it was driven by a high end Amiga.
In the catacombic rooms at the back
bodies writhed against the cold floor
Some of them cross legged
Waving their heads entranced
To the gentle electronic buzzings
Infiltrating their minds.
A Jester in a Riot sock looped through the crowd
Knowing that a good part of this madness
was his doing.
Coming around and through the back
I encountered Smiley and his Italian friend.
They had bought drinks
And they wanted to let me know that they loved us.
I told them that I loved them too
And walked them around to the bar
Stealing two cups from Scott
and sharing them with Smiley and his friend.
Smiley offered me some Vicks to put under my nose
and I accepted
The vapors stirred the paisley spirals
Out of my tricking Axons
and They vanished
and the line became convulsive.
There were hands reaching for the bar
And before I knew it
We had run out of twos.
I told Tanya to get in front of the door
And let no one enter.
That was a sight
I wrangled in my mind for a solution to the problem of the twos
And looked to Scott for help
But he was lost in the cups with the Braun Blender
And I noticed that people were frantically trying to push past Tanya
Her petite body was being pushed back
And her arms were stretched from the door.
As they washed in and she rushed back to the bar
I noticed the Loonies
And Scott and Rich laughed
as the Ice melted in the colored plastic goblets.
We had the means to make change
for the moment at least.
At 3:30 the celebrities came calling
Mark Oliver and his Zebra clad girl
Dropped twenty for two drinks
And gave us some African Gum
That minted our mouths
Until almost the end.
Rich talked Tanya into filling cups with Ice
Even when there were twenty full
And she ran to get a big bucket
from the water bar
When ours was finally liquid in bags
In the dust on the concrete.
And then Dante was there
With a bald head and a centaur's Goatee
Looking like an incarnation of the devil himself
And he handed me a business card
And another twenty
And said we should all come to New York
And work at one of his parties.
It seemed so far away
But his face was domestic at least
A reminder that we were Americans
Toiling on foreign soil.
At some point in there
Tanya's boyfriend danced carelessly
And his fist cracked cartilage
Her nose was bleeding
The best we could do
Is give her some ice.
Dante's friend came to visit us later
He bought drinks too
He was a black man
With short Jamaican dreads
With a muscular build
Sporting bright yellow overalls
He was the last of the out of towners
that we saw that night.
Scott had gotten himself up there somewhere
To a place I dared not voyage
Because some tall kid had given him
Something special for free.
The sun was starting to shine through the windows
And the inside of my eyelids kept flashing
Even after we turned off the strobe
And I watched the dancers continue to lock their joints on the floor
Even after the music receded.
It was time to count up the various colored bills
Give Alx two hundred for our wonderful space
Gather up the powders and lights
And meet back at Tanyas.
That morning in her living room
I thought I saw the floating letters
For the name of a new Rave promotions team
In a painting of a red Mars Scape on the wall behind her.
I couldn't help thinking that her nose was partly my responsibility
But I can't choose the friends of strangers
And I couldn't do anything but drive them home again
And sit and watch her swelling nostrils.
My eyes twisted the letters into the word Phoicos.
And I made the pronouncement
That one day we would have a party
And one day not so far off into the future
by Christopher Bradley
Dedicated to Don Chris (Dogwhistle) Ian Jason Bowie Scott Shauna
Every Poet Whose Challenge Arises With The Changing Time
and The Crystal Princess.
4/14/00 12:51:26 AM
They announced it in August
In the Metro West Convention Center
Under the Pulsing of a Revolving E
On two screens on the outsides of a Green Argon Laser.
The city was going to rise
To the top of the spire
At the epicenter of the Emerald field
Near the intersection of Spadina and Front.
Moments after the announcement
The club kids were moving through the crowd
With the multicolored slicks
Dated October 23.
The 23s were signifigant
It was as if they had stepped out of the Stars to me
December the date I had started making money
October the day I would get out.
I had it in the back of my mind
It would be my last trip to eternity
And it would be fabulous
And there would be nothing to alter the course of events.
It would be the end of a Trilogy
The end of an Era
The conclusion of a compacted year
Of absolute entrenchment in potential jeopardy.
I called Berns and asked for a discount ticket on the day of the show
He put me on the guest list
The guest list to the city in the clouds
A circular flywheel in space.
I was hoping to see Stormtroopers
one last time
Before the rhythm ebbed
and my heart would start to grow old.
I was 19 and my affair with Canada was about to end.
Canada was a blond woman in black stretch pants
Her long curling hair was drifting away into Ontario
It had brushed my chest with sunglassed vision
more than once in an eternal sea of hot chocolate
in the back seat of the Shadow behind Tim Hortons
and in a roadside motel in Windsor on travels to Detroit.
Canada was moving in with other people
People with herbal remedies for glaucomatic presidents
Whose armed forces moved quickly with Uzis and Axes
While the frost drifted lower toward the edge of America.
I met her in her small apartments
And watched her slowly siphon away my liquid assets
Forgiving her wiles
knowing that at some point
the copious entanglements would come to a conclusion.
In any case the Tower was there for the climbing
And if there is a Tower to climb
Then there is the reason for climbing it
Because it is there.
October 23rd arrived
And the Gardiner Expressway rushed by in the late afternoon
Minolta EDS Ford and Scotiabank
Greeted me in their green bush form.
I slid over the bump at 100 kilometers
And noted the presence of an emergency telephone
As the sidewalk to the right passed
And then it was there Spadina Exit.
I passed the closed Dome of the stadium
Remembering the Blue Jays game
I had taken the Pleasuredome barmaid to
Maybe three weeks earlier.
We had watched them play Chicago
and visited The Olive Garden along the strip.
She'd told me she had a Marine boyfriend
and I'd ignored that fact
And kept the conversation going
All the way back to the Rainbow Center.
I parked in back of Queen Street
Down past the Pizza Pizza
at the intersection opposite Speakers Corner
The place where I had danced
On Much Music
Broadcast to the Northern World.
It was a cool but comfortable evening
The lamp posts began to cast glowing photons on the pavement
And I passed the intersection of John and Mercer
Remembering the place that was there before it changed to Oz.
An industrialized nightclub that was called The Factory
where I took my friends
and I met the Roses
While dancing in a Neon green Labcoat
purchased from South Pacific Surplus
Before I graduated with honors.
The Factory was the origin of rave in Toronto
When Ian spun Messiah and Apotheosis
With the launch into bounce mode
With Rotterdam Termination Source - Poing.
Back before he changed stations
Sheppard twisted disks there
And set the metropolis on fire
With his Techno Trip Compact Discs.
Nothing could stop Oz from being beautiful
except for the winged monkeys
who decended on the child-like munchkins
who were only trying to follow the Yellow Brick Road.
I continued to wonder
as I flowed into the soccer garbed massive
at the base of the citadel
Who is the Great and Powerful Oz
and why does he project such a frightening spectre?
Could I rub my purple and green sneakers together
and Find my ticket back to Kansas?
Or would I have to seek out Dorothy
The Crystal Princess
And ride on the heels of her ruby slippers
transforming from the Tin Man
back into a simple farmer?
There was no music at Dusk
But there was a sharp green light
Gliding around the cylindrical structure
beckoning into the fog.
After my contemplations
and greetings to groove riders and strangers of all sorts
I signed the third page
Was waved through security
And stepped through the door.
I'd already found my Purple Window Sky
and I was grinning knowing they would never discover
What was already in my spine.
I was alone in the ebb of humans
More alone than I had ever been
Ecstatic that there was no chain to hold me to earth
Ready to take the Tour of the Universe
A close substitute
for the Millennium Falcon.
I was to be the closest to the Moon that I had ever been
The Black Raybans shielding my dilated Pupils covered the fact that I would never fly
Never pilot a shuttle like the one I commanded in Seventh Grade
The one I commanded into implosion and fiery death in Alabama.
The Speedball Surface Cleaner in nineteen eighty eight
had made certain I would never pass an eye exam without lenses.
The elevator stood before us as we anxiously waited
The boy in the orange Fresh Jive shirt with the long hair
And the girl with the twist tied pigtails
sucking on the clear magenta pacifier attached to a whistle strap around her neck
The people in Addidas stripes and painters caps
And shirts with the Atlantis logo stenciled in black on rainbow tye dye.
The soft electric sound of the bell sounded
And we climbed into an empty cell
Standing in noiseless anticipation
during the smooth sensual voyage to the pinnacle of Architectural wonder.
When I was in sixth grade
I had been up there briefly
Looking down and hoping to see from the observation deck
The massive shopping center called Eaton
On Yonge and Dundas
where I had shopped with Robin and Isaac and Casey and Shannon and DeEtte.
I opened fortune cookies in Chinatown
and bought Sunglasses with straps and a Bryan Adams tape
to listen to on my generic walk-man
in the Train on the way back to my side of Niagara Falls.
What my eyes showed me when the door opened was entirely different from that time.
It took my ears a fraction of a second to recognize the audio
But it was somehow different than what I had heard when I first came home from Chicago.
The track phased the Shamen's voices through space
between multi-dimensionally arranged speaker housings
And before I knew what I was up to
I had asked three people who was spinning
The answer had been Ian.
I circled around the outside of the centered ring
and found the Tall Dark haired Jockey standing with one hand at a headset at his ear.
The circles on the Mark II plates were slowing and quickening as his fingers manipulated the vinyl
I watched him slide the pitch bar up toward the +8 marker
He organized the flow into a white label.
When he was done he turned and smiled
He knew that I wanted to know what he'd been up to
He handed me the slip cover for the single
And I looked at the circuited design
Wishing that I knew where on earth he'd discovered it.
I let the cover rest on his crate and walked into the crowd.
People were dancing against Virtual Reality Projected on the walls
In the gaps where the souvenir stands would have been on any given day
I tried to find space to let my arms fly and my feet shuffle
But I was beyond excitement
And the doughnut ring of the Cement Nail was becoming smaller
as the elevators brought the teeming humanity into the sky.
I decided to drop back to earth and take the Tour.
The Tour of the Universe was a Computer Generated flight
through a quadrant of the Galaxy that I had never before seen
Girders of space stations and Planets and Constellations whizzed past
Burning jets of color into my perspiring retinas.
The seat I had strapped into tilted with the whole thirty member audience
And my blood poured into my feet
while my head stumbled on visual sketches of Android controlled vessels.
I was lost in the Cosmos for five minutes
in a physical man machine interface
Wishing that I could never stop coming to the end of Gravity's Rainbow.
In the middle of it all
I remembered Tron and The Black Hole
and Blade Runner and The Terminator
and had a thought to pray that one of Gibson's novels would make it to film.
I had a vision that I might someday try to put the whole kaleidoscope of HallucinoGen-X into print.
And it was quickly forgotten
as the Falcon swiftly landed
and it's razored talons gripped the earth
Ripping up the ground
And needling my tear gassed brain
Like "Good Bye Blue Skies"
Just before the lights came back up.
As I left the Pod and carefully set my feet on each stair
I looked ahead to the tilted floor of the ramp
And set myself into careful motion
Swaying with the chosen thirty.
Some said that the end was near
I could see that the beginning was near
And that there would be no turning back
from the bath of liquid sunshine
of the silicon age.
At the base of the tower
In the House Cage
The Detroit people were playing Dimensional Holophonic Sound
"The House of God"
A dance fell into my step as I moved toward the elevator
And at the entrance I spotted Jason.
He was wearing his graphite lenses
and smoothing back his blond hair
The girl who'd sold me John Player Specials on the Mountain wasn't with him
He was alone and headed for the T-Shirt vendors.
I banged his knuckles with mine and told him about the Shamen mix
and that I'd just come back from the Tour.
I kept walking at the elevator
and he kept straight on to the vendors
and then I was in the frictionless tunnel again.
At the top things had changed
People were sitting on the rug with their backs to the glass
And there was a little bit more space to dance
I stood for a bit and just took in the sound
piercing harmonic frequencies at enormous decibels in hyper-clarity
Bass guitar samples that made the high ground shake
Frenetic loops of syncopated swing Jazz drums
Sputtered hiccups of Triangle and Sawtooth wave modulating in burst pulses.
I was inside a lightning bolt of Audio
watching the frantic motion of hip cracking thigh twists and knife handed jabs at the air.
People wearing Sun-In and Electric Kool Aid in their hair passed
as the Chinese Dragons of firecracking Wavesample barraged the pulse of my heart.
I nearly cried at the beauty of the smiles on their lips and the smiles on their linen
A warm tear ran down my right cheek as I smiled back and I swallowed it.
The salt hit me and I realized that it was time to drink.
Liquid Adrenaline was there.
I had never directly competed with them
So I let them fix me a drink.
Banannas Wild Cherry Drink Mix Orange Juice and L-Phenylalanine.
I gave them the extra two dollars for the choline because I wanted to see the walls breathe.
I took a sip of the wet chipped cherry ice concoction and walked to the steps ringing the outer rim.
The Liquid Adrenaline people were smiling too.
That's when I lost track of time.
I slowly set myself down on the steps
and pulled a Benson and Hedges Special King Light Menthol cigarette from my sky blue pocket.
The flame flickered on my Bic disposable after I struck the flint.
I pulled my Sunglasses down slightly
so that I could watch myself start the correct end of the cylinder smoke.
I watched the ice swirl in the cup and had another sip.
And I started to realize
That I was beginning to forget.
I was forgetting the sand volley ball pit of my first day away at school
Forgetting paint ball in the forests of Illinois
Forgetting fraternity football in the Rain of October
Forgetting the Grain Alcohol behind the bar in the basement at the Pledge Halloween Party
Forgetting Two girls who wanted to buy me a Pizza while I was trying to write a song
Forgetting Cool Vaughn the Air Force ROTC and our Fortran 77 class
Forgetting Business English and Being Carried to Calculus to earn a C while drunk
Forgetting Being Thrown into the Pool after a game of Risk in the living room of the house
Forgetting breaking my roomate's custom designed bed
Forgetting having the telephone line installed in our Dorm Room
Forgetting the picture of the Ace of Spades that Aiston kept hidden under the floorboards of his deck.
Forgetting Brian's Japanese American Girlfriend
who wound up in bed with another brother after too much liquor.
I was forgetting that this had all started in WJJL on Main Street
Where Scott and I Listened to The Announcements of the First Parties on CFNY.
I was forgetting the computer engineering class at University at Buffalo
Forgetting the Physics I took in high school
Forgetting how I ran for class President and lost to Eugene Williams
Forgetting Quickbasic and the Electronic Data Systems Co-Operative
Forgetting my crush on Emily when she sang Bette Middler for our graduation
Forgetting the Electronic Music Workshop and the people who taught me to compose
Forgetting sitting on Karen's back porch with Rob plotting our final Yawp at class day
Forgetting Sitting on the Rock above the Whirlpool with Robin S after Lunch at Emperor of China
Forgetting Selecting the Engagement band at Zales in Summit Park Mall.
Forgetting the Two Proms I attended with the same girl
Forgetting that same girl as I left her on Regent Avenue far behind the Shadow to dive into Nitrous 013
Forgetting my Mother and my Father who labored day and night so that I could attend private schools
Forgetting Ike Chris and the Boys Club kids on Portage and Niagara who taught me how to use the Apple
Forgetting how to play Axis and Allies which I discovered in Huntsville
Forgetting the Role Playing Games and the people I collected and left for my own peace of mind
Forgetting the summer Bicycle Camp which took me through Genesee county and Batavia
Forgetting taking Jennifer out alone on a Sunfish on Silver Lake during the Regatta.
Forgetting a picnic lunch with Tammy who taught me to write poetry to go with my music
Forgetting spending an afternoon in a wavepool with Mesha.
Forgetting learning to speak Japanese with Charlene and then taking her to a Fugazi concert at Buff State.
Forgetting the red haired girl that helped me obtain Depeche Mode 101 on video tape.
Forgetting watching my first PG-13 Movie with a long haired Jennifer
and seeing Charlie take Tom Cruise's Breath away.
Forgetting Bowling at Bowl O Drome on Pine Avenue with Paula and my Brother and Sister.
Forgetting Valentines Day at The Red Coach Inn with Michelle.
Forgetting Programming Color Macros for C-NET on the Commodore 64.
Forgetting Rides out to Glenn's houses in Lockport and Wilson to learn about PC's.
Forgetting the thrown Chestnut incident on Lewiston Road near Deveaux manor.
Forgetting being kicked in the head by Rob in Hyde Park at a picnic in the Fall.
Forgetting my Math teacher who died of Cancer.
Forgetting my grandmother whose estate bought me the Ensoniq Sampler.
Forgetting my Grandfather who lived just long enough for Joshua to be born.
Forgetting my Aunts and Uncles and their families
Forgetting that I should have taken pride in my work and not kept it behind the closed wooden door of my
tiny goblin green bedroom.
In an instant after that final thought she was there
My Crystal Princess.
She had long brown hair and Ruby Slippers
All I can call her now is Dorothy
I never knew her real name.
I left my half finished cup to rest on the tight fibers of the carpet when she asked me if I was Ok
and if I wanted to dance.
She put my hands on her shoulders and started slow.
While in motion I looked at my chrome swatch and realized that I had been motionless for an hour.
I also noticed that I was still holding the cigarette butt.
I let the paper fall.
I watched her chest heave with the music and followed their downward motion to her feet
They rested beneath the edge of her long cotton shirt
Beyond the rustling cut strings of torn blue jean
And they were clicking together
I didn't have to count
They had hit many more than three times.
I saw her face and she smiled at me
and I smiled back
her eyes were narrow
and I could feel that we were both sweating
like the clouds fogging the windows from the outside.
Sweat that comes from just under the surface to make the skin of the face glow.
It was all over both of us.
I ran my fingers through my hair and it spiked up
And I saw many figures of her dancing inside her platinum aura.
She was here to take me home.
In that instant I realized that what I thought was forgetting
I had somewhere to go.
The end of my time in the Tower in the Emerald Patch was here.
I kissed her sweaty lips and we walked past each other.
I made for the elevator at the center of the tower and walked past a spinning Disco Ball.
There were Gel Lights on the floor in the coridor flashing patterns that flashed
like Fourth of July Fireworks against the wall.
America was coming back.
I remembered standing in the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center with my Aunt when I was Five
and pouring Pepsi in my eye to put out an ash that had fallen into it.
I remembered choking on a lifesaver at the Auto Vue drive in while watching Luke Skywalker fire his Photon Torpedo into the Death Star.
I remembered dashing up sloping sidewalks in Winter to drop rolled newspapers into mailboxes.
I remembered that I earned my component Stereo system steaming Eggs for Breakfast at McDonalds.
I remembered that the Wicked Witch was dead.
I remembered that it was always safe to come home.
And then I was in the elevator and there was the musty smell of already smoked marijuana
And I put my sunglasses on and struck my lighter to another Menthol
And the smell vanished as the doors opened
And I was vibrating on a tiled floor
And I caught the back of Jason's head
and then I thought better of annoying him with my discovery
after all where exactly does his concern for my travel come into play?
He told me once that I'd meet up with him in Hollywood.
And I thought Maybe it's better that the continuing party in Oz costs only $2.00.
I will go for a little while
And let the Medicine run its course.
And find a clean bottle of Evian to run through my veins.
And then I think
The House of God was there through it all
There is something of a Soul lurking out there
and Maybe it is worth the cost of a careful ride home.
But only after a brief visit to Rochester
And a long float across a field full of people in England
who've been around thirty years longer than I.
In a white balloon painted with love
While the Sun Machine
was coming down.
Manhattan in A Shirt and Tie
by Christopher J. Bradley
Dedicated to Ricky Lee Tammy Sharpe The Impulse Foot Soldiers Jim M and Jim A
The New Culture Industry Manipulators Anyone Who Has Ever Had a Sales Crisis
The Venture Capitalists of Advent All of my friends at Electronic Data Systems and
The Social Reforming Activists of The University at Buffalo.
Inspired by the Music Video for "Sleep Now in the Fire" by Rage Against the Machine broadcast on Much Music on Friday April 14 2000 At Sometime Around 4 PM.
Transmission Coding Header:
Warning - Electronic Letter Bombs not delivered by Federal Express may contain
Action Provoking Patriotic Imagery. Do not read this poem partially.
As proscribed by the laws of The United States of America:
that May Contain
Statements of Fact.
Transmission Coding Footer:
The beginning is always a good place to start.
Manhattan in a Shirt and Tie
Behind countless vehicles of all sorts
Old new auctioned and in between
The monoxide drifted through clouded girders
Above the blue-green current below
Everyone behind the wheel
slowly pushing forward
toward the four dollar toll cages
at the end of the George Washington
A bicyclist passes wearing headphones
And I realize that there is music
Among the talking in the Shadow
Z-100 Boosts SWV with a hint of Michael Jackson
To the ears of the four of us
Ready to sell Kansas and Boston
From Black Bags loaded into the trunk in Jersey
We might have been selling poppies
Silver backed disks in sealed plastic
I was going to work the streets with an Italian named Joe
An ex Air Force mechanic named Steve
A hispanic account manager named Jose
And a moustached black man named Carl
We all knew that we were going to do it "My Way"
if things didn't work out and we were going to come home with money.
The day shift was enough for a thousand words.
We parked at Six A.M.
And hit the bars and pornography houses on fourty second street
with a furious vengeance
that could only be characterized as a kind of anger for gross earning
We enticed the Arab and ex-bounty hunter vendors and morning barkeeps to pick up
the Greatest Hits of Billy Joel
and Try on for size a digitally remastered Jefferson Airplane ticket
We had Sinatra and Benettar
And if you bothered to dig
We had some Chris Cross to make you Jump
The clerks ate up our numbing brain candy
Especially when we featured "Dust in the Wind" for them.
Everybody had a few nickels to drop
And we were there to pick them up
Like aluminum scavengers with Glad twist tie kitchen bags.
As I walked with the canvas slung across my shoulders
I saw huge billboards along the walks
Women dressed in underwear
Poked inviting fingers out at me
Supermodels I'd never seen on television.
People stood behind walls of plexi-glass
waiting for busses.
At first I was nervous
about going up into buildings
but that changed as the morning progressed.
I walked through a bread line
And watched a Mercedes and a Jaguar
glide by among the Yellow Taxis.
On the short steps of a building
Out near the Parking Lot
Somewhere around 9th
A girl collecting change in a pencil can
asked to see what I had to sell
I showed her some Mozart
when she said she wanted it
She paid with a fifty.
It was a new North America for me
Everything was for sale
You could feel it even if you couldn't see it.
I could smell the moisture evaporating off the concrete
As the legions of stock attired swindlers in sharkskin wingtips
Marched uniformly down Wall
With a lust for the shifting numbers
Of the never halting ticker
They stopped for no one
And hurled change
At the scraggled legless veteran
Buried under the water stained wrinkled sheets of last weeks Journal
I stayed away from that strip
It was erie
Like something you'd expect to see in Tokyo
But the pale angle shouldered business suited traders
Looked like Gillete Sensor sponsors with only one exception
They had wide lowered eyes.
I let myself imagine that their Rolexes cost as much as thourougbreads worthy of the Triple crown.
In front of a New York pizza shop in the grid
I bought a hip fanny pack from an Armenian.
I started using it for convenience.
Michelle had shown me one
When we were in Physics class together
A year earlier in nineteen ninety two.
By noon I was sweating
So I stepped into a store with no air conditioning.
They sold everything from
Canned soup to Wisk to Boones and Bottle Openers
There was an Asian College girl
behind the counter
I bought a pack of cigarettes
and an Arizona Green Tea.
I tried to strike up a conversation
without selling anything
And she ended up taking 90215 and the Eagles with her
before we went our seperate ways
and I became an "Owner of a Lonely Heart."
Next I found myself on Fifth Avenue
standing across the street from a woman with long soft shiny brunette hair.
She was wearing a long white
Custom designed dress.
It looked like the ones the models walked the runway in on CNN Fashion Extra.
I can't pretend to be an expert on clothing
But I was certain that the flowing transparent garment
Cost far more than my parents' humble estate of residence
Off a side street in DeVeaux.
She was walking five identically trimmed brown dogs that stood only
About two feet from the ground.
I won't lie and claim that they were terriers.
I will only say that they looked like
What I imagined at the time a well groomed high pedigree
Terrier might be.
The five of them all had long strands
Of thin hair that shined like gold
In the summer sunshine as it dangled lightly before their hidden eyes.
She looked like a master water skier
Flowing behind them as they toddled
Back and forth in front of her
Along with the cement current
Of the Metropolis.
As I turned away from the cosmopolitan woman
I looked at some delicately
Embossed pottery in the window
Of a shop with a black motif.
Seven years has taken the
Print scripted on onyx
Visible from the curb
Away from me.
I walked into the storefront knowing that it was a bad idea.
It was dark inside the shop
In the mid afternoon light
The clerks looked like clones of one another
They were both dressed in jet black turtlenecks
With small silver studs for earings.
My brain took a double take seperating the one with breasts from the one without them.
The dual sets of brown iris
Frowned at me as I approached
The curved polycarbon counter
And their hands waved me away
Without a word
As if I were some sort of flea ridden nuisance
The door closed hard but silently
At my back and I was back in the jittering traffic
Of elastic footsteps.
Before getting caught up in the tide
Of the river of knees and elbows
I viewed the span in my field of view.
There was a Jamaican of American descent
That may have sprung up from a manhole cover
Where the women with the dogs had floated by.
I walked over to him
Past the fenders of cars built in the seventies and eighties
Frozen in time as if stuck in a still frame of moving film.
The strap of the luggage was still heavy against my back.
I opened my pack for him and
Showed him my wares.
He outsold me
And I wound up with a plastic wrapped bundle
Long brown sticks of cinnamon incense.
I got away cheap.
I didn't buy his Marley album because it didn't have "Buffalo Soldier" in the credits.
The cart was a quick fold up table and while I was considering
Whether or not he'd ever dealt Three Card Monte
I discovered why he was really there.
A quick flip of my left wrist indicated that it was five P.M.
The pacers struck the grey stone and the asphault with a frenetic fury
Winding among the traffic obstacles
And ignoring the flashing signals
That spotted through my lenses everywhere.
I walked in the tangle for half a block
Then ducked into a shop selling neckties and stereo components.
A grey cardboard sign with medium sized marker print
In carelessly formed characters indicated that the price on the ties was
"Three for twenty dollars."
I spotted one in a glass display case that I wanted.
I flashed back while waiting for the salesman to a time five years earlier
When a drama student girlfriend and I learned about the wonders of the neck tie
While she taught me about the act of love and it's relationship to artistic license.
We would have been discovered by my mother
if she hadn't been a quick change practitioner.
I talked to the olive skinned man when he approached
Working consciously not to let the visions of the past escape my lips.
The item I desired had a print of Dali's melting clocks dyed into its fibers.
He casually informed me that
The ties in the display case cost twenty-five dollars a piece.
Our disagreement in price was understood
And I casually found my way back to the street
But not before I attempted to push the B52's and Talking Heads on him.
It was almost a great afternoon for "Burning Down The House" with David Byrne.
Trying to move that record drew me into thoughts of "Until The End of The World"
As I washed fluidly back through traffic and down an alley a couple of doors down
From that cascading toilet of Noir.
The corridor opened on the right
Into a market under a canvas tarp tent
Where hustling vendors were selling
Pirated copies of unreleased Hollywood Blockbusters taped on camcorders
By devious videographers out to capture a few of the drifting Benjamins
Awash in the current of
Under the surface rough trade
That couldn't exist on a level to any other cultural epicenter in the East.
Maybe Chicago had a confidence game going
But the operations of it's denizens were more visible
And easier to successfully circumvent.
A whiskery African near the Chicago Housing Authority
Confronted me one morning
As I had just crossed State Street
to attend Economics class
I was sporting a topcoat and boots
And he stopped me asking for gasoline money
Before the snapping retort I hoped to fire off
He offered me his driver's liscense
Out of curiosity I asked him to let me look at it.
The face on the license was a Caucasian profile.
The story got better when the line changed
And suddenly the weather beaten photographic identification was his brother's.
I handed it back to him and wordlessly proceeded across 33rd
To the Escher concept building
Where I carefully noted my Indian instructor's lecture.
The net result of the exchange
That I had with the quick talking Mexican
Wearing a thick chain wrapped like a tow rope and a Boss T-shirt
Was that he wanted half the product in my display
for fifty dollars.
I should have predicted that he would want to put the merchandise
Into circulation himself.
He gave me this "Yo no tengo lo mucho dinero" rap
before I could reverse the pitch on him
And I ended up mazing my way back to 42nd.
When I came to the realization that I hadn't eaten since noon
I blistered my drying eyes down the wide terrace of Broadway.
Words sequenced along old theater buildings
Formed two parallel lyrical structures of intentionally placed
Public performance art.
There were few strollers to click their heels against the humm of the motion
Back on fifth.
At some point in the space between
The babblings of the signwork
I managed to detect the scribbling of Chinese.
I had to cross the street
To narrow in on the menu written in English
Taped to the window within a griddle of Kanji washed flyers
In colors ranging from neon orange to pale mauve.
I sat down and ordered Kung Po chicken
From a waiter wearing an arm towel
And let the cumbersome baggage of plastic and laser burned media
Rest on the chair
Fourty five degrees away.
The dinner came with an egg roll hot and sour soup
And my own tray of specially prepared tea
With tiny cups lacking handles.
The teapot was ornate
With interwoven garden vines
Flowering into petals that could only have bloomed
In the climate of the opposite hemisphere of the globe.
I thought back to renting Enter the Dragon
Seeing Bruce Lee pose for combat among the mirrors
And then free associated back to my first taste of Moo Goo Gai Pan
Across from my old supervisor Rick
Who hired me for a Christmas assault on the shoppers of Summit Park Mall.
I helped him open the gate of Impulse World in the week preceeding Thanksgiving.
He let me listen to tapes of the Smiths Information Society and The Cure
Borrowed from Rob while my other friends
From the 1990 class election campaign stormed in and out
With newly purchased statues of Buddah
And several finger excercise Balls.
The Fascination Street of the Orient was alive in my hometown.
Customers looking for more elegant acquisitions
Sought out Kimonos
Three foot wide animated collapsing fans
And dressing blinds made of thin painted stone.
I re-designed the Rad Sys dissipater software documents
Before I was invited to work outside of the co-operative for him.
My fingertips cruised through the menus of WordPerfect for Dos
In a newly Moused world
until I was virtually a professional at typesetting.
When I left the tip I was generous
Where else in the world can you be flooded
By an ocean of good memories
For four dollars and some change?
I made it ten and the bell above the door signaled my exit.
With a rejuvenated sense of Chi
I worked beyond the magnetic poetry of the Broadway signs
My foot falls finding turf all on their own as I changed streets
And crossed the uninviting face of a brownstone.
What appeared to be an old factory of unknown production capacity beckoned.
Cutting through unlocked portal windowed wooden doors
I broke the threshold of the complex and found my way forward
To a freight elevator with diamonded collapsing brass rails
And climbed aboard for a ride
Not unlike one of my meddlings earlier in the day.
I was hoping that this engagement would come to a similar result
To that of my morning conquest
Which had not been far from where I stood at that moment.
To the general misfortune of the endeavors of humanistic reformers
Who had recently made headlines
With news of the calculating coldness of the Kathy Lee Gifford
Advertising and Manufacturing establishment
The members of which attempted to effectively put a stranglehold on market share
For women's discount business attire
Through a here to remain anonymous national retailer
My target audience for the pre-prepared shtick of my present employer
Evaporated as I assessed that these were not members
Of the privileged blue collar class of low level middle management
That I had had the good fortune of establishing
For the most part
A direct line of friendly convenience oriented one way communication
That generally concluded with an educated consumers intent to purchase.
These beaten brows were those of the victims
Of the Ancient Art of War in the condition of the economics
Of the modern capitalist mode of operation
By stealthy less than aristocratic foreigners
Making a business of the corruption of the frail American Dream
That barely came to realization for a very few citizens of this country
In the time pre-dating the Johnson administration.
The Sweat Shops of the city on the island were real.
Above the streets of Liberty
The pale green copper heroine in all her glory stands with a torch
To light the path to Freedom
For both woman and man alike.
With the dead Kennedy's she showed us the next step into orbit.
Lunar Landers launched by the National Association of Space Administration.
With Reagan she helped us realize the means
To align the stars in our favor
With sattelites and telescopes placed by Columbia
and the Challenger.
And with patience and progress
She will lead us toward a recognition
For the need for societal reformation.
One day the bamboo cage
Housing those Missing In Action
From the front lines
Of the healthy
Family construction force
Will have it's flimsy frame unfastened.
Entangled threads of stitch
will cause the fracture of the needle of brute ignorance
That binds the beauty of the imagination
Of the creatively souled Chinese American
To the fabric of the garments
Of the globally dominated Superstore consumer.
Bringing the political garblings
Of my only partially aware mind
To a close
It can be concluded in abbreviated form
That the Overseer sent me away
From a battalion of potential music listeners
With two simple words
That need not be repeated for the simple sake of commonality.
As he closed the wooden gate that divided me from the attention
Of the poor spirits
Of the class that goes without relief
Within the living field of possibility
That we like to reflect on
As we fixate ourselves on Network Television programming
From couches so easily earned
With the stylistic business
Of simple scientific methods learned
During the teenage years
That cannot be afforded
As a result of their contracts with the doers of the clandestine evil
Of the philosophically politically and socially challenged
whose motivation lies with those residing in the valley below the river Styx.
For the sake of clarification Greed.
To bring the world up to date
I am subject to the whims of greed at times.
I find myself in a Casino on occasion
In an attempt to pick up Lady Fortune
And have her spin the revolving marble of her wheel
To line my pockets with lint
I see little curvature in the spines of the
Master of the Roulette wheel
He gets a full range of motion
At his long digit coded tables in Ontario
Accept my smile as a token
Of appreciation to one particular Casino Associate
From the recently opened port of Hong Kong
Of whom I am particularly fond
For his ability to light up the magic numbers
That I randomly select.
He knows that there is a place for him
And the parents that gave him to Chance
Before he has scholared his first academic achievement.
I'm betting that he will find that place.
I walked out of that Sweat Shop
Believing that I had seen
The only atrocity I would find in America
And I made my way cautiously back to my car
Where my passengers had been anxiously awaiting my arrival
For well over an hour.
We released the trunk
And four doors closed on the compact black cherry sedan.
Before Joe realized that the radio wasn't playing
We were wedged in behind the freight
Of the roughly two ton carriages of engineered steel
Exiting by way of the waterfront
at the base of the urban cityscape of New York.
We saw our squeegee men and rose peddlers
During the Tortoise's race back to the rails of the Washington
To engage in Mass Transit
And find our well deserved rest
At a Jersey Motel off the Garden State Parkway
But not before a quick stop in a small plaza
For multidirectional product exchanges
At a Dunkin Donuts
That never closes.
I think we may have dropped a Zeppelin or two on them
And when we counted what was left
There were a few copies of that whole
"I want to be a part of it" compact disc
that had gone missing somehow.
You never know.
This Week's Lotto Jackpot is Seventy Five Million Dollars.
Truly Brilliant Orange
By Christopher J. Bradley
12/3/00 11:13:10 PM
We were Aquatic together
In the Summer of 1985
We swam and sailed and skied the water together.
We had dinners together
In a newly built building
on Silver Lake.
I had a camera
But I only captured one picture of you
Holding my hand
Your hair was a truly brilliant orange.
We sat around a warm camp fire
In the middle of the week
And you hugged my cold damp shoulders from behind
While the canoes rested against the high banks of the pier.
I thought I was in love at age 12
Two years before I would wear my first pair of glasses.
You told me about Herkimer diamonds
And living without Rock Music.
I hoped to see you the next year
When I came back.
But I assume that because I never wrote back
To your gem stoned letter
You decided against going the next year.
I should have written back
But we would never have been able to span the distance.
Someday maybe you will come to visit me
In a dream or after I've written enough.
And I will get a chance to view
The colors of what you've done
Truly Brilliant Orange.
A Fiance' Not Forgotten
By Christopher Bradley
1/17/00 4:33 AM
Dedicated to Michelle Garvey
Photographs of the two of us
Lie in a box from an old stereo
Underneath my bed
With my other rememberances
Of times past.
When I sift through all of them
You are there in the forefront
In your purple dress
The one you wore to the prom.
I remember taking rides with you
Out to the hamburger stand
In the back woods of Lockport
And eating curly cue french fries
Those were the days when I was still afraid
To try certain new foods.
For Valentines Day
The year I came back from Chicago
We went to the Red Coach Inn
And drank flaming cofee
And you wore your blue gown
I could have sworn I would have loved you until I died.
You had received the ring before then
On your graduation day
After the ceremony
In my car.
It had been my secret graduation present to you.
Maybe when you came to visit in Chicago
I felt like I had changed.
I had seen the dark side of the male mind at 18.
I cannot re-count the events of that semester
I am fortunate that I had you to think of
And that some wit remained.
It came to me later
Long after I had demanded the ring back
That it had been my own doing
And that I left your house in turmoil.
I should have realized
That you were a person too
But that realization hadn't come to me
Until the recent past
When I discovered
That people hurt
That I hurt
When I think of what I did
To the girl who mattered most
In the fantasy of who we were supposed
When I first imagined
That we would be married at 22.
Words cannot change a life already lived
But perhaps they can heal the wounds of the past
At least in a small way.
I hope that your heart mends with time
And that you find a man better than I.
If I could take back the images I showed you
And swallow the last drop of alcohol I told you was safe to taste
and fall off another bench
And break my fourteenth rib
I would do it again so that you wouldn't have
Had to be my Eve.
by Christopher J. Bradley
For Dawn McKinley
May 5 1999 6:26 AM
We watch her
As the moon sets.
A neighbor looks on
As we kiss in the new light
She who has held me through darkness
Keeps my skin warm
In the dewy morning grass
Where we sit cross legged.
Smoke filters through the air
The black maple breathes in our decadence
While birds sing
Their voices cry out from all angles.
A car passes through the tree lined street
A traveler is headed for work
His day is beginning
All steel and concrete
And I have you
The Dawn of the Millennium.
Sky Blue Irises
by Christopher J. Bradley
12/3/00 10:51:58 PM
It was Thanksgiving time again
And I waited around the house for most of the evening
For my car to arrive
So that I could go to meet you.
You were sitting in the bar when I arrived
A Lewiston Brew House
And talking with your sister.
It had been 7 years since we'd spoken.
Chinese was still new to me on our last dining experience
I had Chicken and Mushrooms at Emperor of China
The small restaurant on Main Street served tea with the meal.
And I thought I could talk to you forever.
You wore a long flowing gown made of thin flowered tissue cloth
And smoked clove cigarettes across the table at me
You called yourself a granola
Whatever that was it sounded appealing to me.
We were both college students
And you were not single.
You suggested that we go for a walk along the gorge
And being in nature with you seemed like a nice idea.
We stopped somewhere in the middle and sat on a rock
And talked and shared silence
While the sun glinted from the ripples of the water below.
It was a warm summer day and one not easy to forget.
That day traced back to afternoons marching through the sticks of the wild grass
Behind your house where we chased a frog
In seventh grade
And the time we went horseback riding
After the Haloween that I dressed as Indiana Jones for.
I remember that a year earlier
You lent me a casette tape of The Cars
And I copied it so that I could hear "Magic" and "Hello Again" over and over
And we had Spelling Bees and Studied Biology at school.
At our most recent meeting
When I was staring out into space
I was thinking about whether or not I would have the courage
To strike out on my own and somehow make myself worth your attention again.
Maybe try to get a higher paying job somewhere far away from here
Or live differently
For a chance to touch your short dark hair
Or return your silent postured gaze again
Like the one I held with you for only a moment
In the first November of the Millenium
In the glaze of a chill winter evening
On Center street.
As Winter Begins
By Christopher J. Bradley
11/16/00 9:52:48 PM
I stand outside
The wind blustering against my face
And tugging at the wings of my jacket.
The crinkling leaves are floating on the air
Around my legs.
I have worked in the gym tonight
My arms and legs feel strong and warm
Against the cold.
A cup of coffee on the drive home
Went well with some cigarettes.
The maple's falling petals shield me from tiny raindrops
they flick against my face when they sneak past.
The drops induce dreams of other places
Warmer places like Florida or Alabama
Maybe South Carolina
Where I was born.
Seeing photographs of myself as a child last night
Moved me to remember that winter can be fun
Growing up at Grammy's house
In the winter of 1977 during the Blizzard
Was terrifying and ecstatic all at once.
I played with Pebbles then
A beagle with a disposition like no other
And a hunger for anything edible and visible.
I also played with new toys
A plastic tennis set
And a ring stack.
At Grammy's house
I could see everything wooden and green
The Christmas tree covered with glass ornaments
Sparkled in the darkness that winter.
And we ate and drank and shared the spirit of family.
A couple years pass in my mind
And I find myself walking to school in the snow
Trudging along heavy packed curbs of grey
From the plows the night before.
Finding my way to Maple Avenue.
Around that time I played my first video game
And got my Christmas wish
To have Space Invaders to play at home
Dad tried unsuccessfully to sneak the Atari 2600
Past the doorway from his rusted blue Maverick.
We enjoyed the holidays a few days earlier that year.
My brother and I went sledding with my father
For a couple of years in a row
As we got bigger and stronger
The Toboggan was heavy
And Clover Hill was tall.
But what a rush it was
To slide through white powder
On the circular sleds
And that huge wooden thing
And to stop just short of the upturn
That protected us from the cars slushing by.
The walk to school got further
When we started attending St. Teresa's
And the wind was colder with each successive winter
As my ears grew.
But the music got louder
And clearer and that's when I started dancing.
There were winter dances at St John's school
The winter of seventh grade
I found myself with Jennifer Gallheger in my arms
To the song that was prized as the most popular
For it's length
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.
That winter I asked her to the movies
And we saw Top Gun
With Tom Cruise
And I held her hand
When Maverick made Kelly McGuiness quiver
But we never kissed.
My cigarette burns out
And I walk back inside the house
Past the evergreen bushes
In front of the space
Where I built so many snowmen.
But I continue to dream
Until my fingers reach the keys
That put those dreams into words.
My freshmen year at high school
I discovered Paula
Who kissed me at a homecoming dance
And we bowled together
In a league that winter.
The shoes always clung to my wet socks
when I took my boots off.
I also found more video games
And left the house less
Except for shoveling snow
The next few winters
As I concentrated on improving my grades.
In 1991 I experienced a winter without Michelle
Alone in Chicago
Among grown boys
We celebrated a drunken Christmas party
And I didn't see them
Until I had given up on school there.
When I did come home
Michelle and I made up for lost time
Holding each other
In front of the fireplace
On blankets laid out on the blue carpeted floor.
Then there were several more winters
And I found myself standing on the street
Confronted as a loiterer.
I spent Thanksgiving in a hospital
Recovering my wits.
And then there was the Christmas a year later
With more of the same
Due to some Christmas Shopping anxiety nightmare
And fear of more of the same.
I spent Christmas out of commission as well.
The snow fell but it didn't touch my face much.
So now that the winter is starting
I hope to be prepared
I'll not be planning any wild escapades or escapes
I just want to watch the flakes fall from the heavens
And glisten on the swooping winds
that make my windows rock in the night time.
On the weekends my computer will humm with electricity
While I type away and try to figure out
all of the wonderful things it can do
And I will spend less time in the stores
And more time talking to Mom and Dad.
Because when we are all together
Brothers and Sister included
There is still something special
Not to be missed :
The spirit of family and Joy of Winter today
And Winters past
We know how to protect against the cold
And we know how to play in the snow
And we know why Christmas is.
When The Fierceness of Winter Breaks
by Christopher Bradley
Dedicated to All of my Friends and Family
I will watch the flowers bloom
This broken yard chair will support me
While I finish reading Homer
and Sky washes in the water
sprayed from the hose of
my seven year old brother.
I can see myself at dinner again
with a special girl at a Middle Eastern restaurant
I will go to the hill
where I met the Salamander
And sit to write a story
And try to remember things
Like evenings in the University Library
with a world traveling friend.
I know that I will spend time in
cafe's in Allentown
Meeting an occasional acquaintance
And hiding from the real me of the past.
I will dream about becoming musical again.
I might press down an Ivory key or two.
If I am lucky the plastic ones
might lead me somewhere.
I will visit my mother and my aunt
on evenings when they
near the border.
I will try to take Dan
to the bookstore again
and make a
day of it.
I will speak with my sister
and her friends in a diner
and ask her about her
Love paper and who she's met
through her studies
And buy her boyfriend a cappuchino.
Mike and I will begin our
conquering of the earth
via the internet
And Ryan will send me an e-mail
saying that he wants to know
what we have been up to.
There will be a unique excursion
or two with Patrick and
Shennen will call and invite
me to see his new child
And have some Marshmallows
over a bonfire behind his
grand father in-law's old house.
I might bring a rattle or some Mocassins
for the baby.
I will stop by the University
to drop off paperwork and
share some of my history
with my professors
Letting Gansworth know
that I've finally finished
reading his novel.
I will give a friend a ride home from work
And finish reading the Gospel of Mark.
I will spend some time in a
supermarket and buy some
more yogurt and cream cheese.
And open a can of
I will participate in watching
cinema of all types
Mission Impossible 2
and anything new with Spacey or Jolene.
I will try out the video phone
and have some fun with some
And I will keep trying to remember
didn't have to be cold
to be deadly.
And there won't be a day
that I don't think
of a thousand poems
that I will never have the time to
the forever numbered leaves