Fort Myers, August 2002
Â I should have fended off the emotard
when he gnawed your hands, then spat
your own fingerprints back.
The pelt hangs in my chest. I try
not to wear it. I try to forget
how frayed your skin tasted.
What the hell is happening here? First, the protagonist is the (failing) protector of (I assume) his female partner. Then, he has suddenly switched places with the â€˜emotardâ€™ who has bitten her. First, the protagonist is not doing something he should be doing and then he is doing things he shouldnâ€™t be doing, although he is trying not to do them.
One poem, six little lines, and already there is enough inversion and reversal and physical imagery going on to make you dizzy.
I have now read this poem dozens of times and I have decided that, for me, it is ultimately about lust and self-control. Or the lack of the latter. In that light, one could assume the â€˜emotardâ€™ is not another person. The protagonist may be failing to fend off his own â€˜inner emotardâ€™.
Thereâ€™s nine poems in A Patchwork of Rooms Furnished by Mistakes, a square-shaped, richly-illustrated e-chapbook available from Deckfight Press.
J. Bradley is the author ofÂ the epic poem How Esmeralda Estrus Got Her Revenge, published by Corrupt Press in the fall of 2011. Earlier publications include the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009) a flash fiction chapbook called The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You Is A Robot (Safety Third, 2010) and My Hands Are As Thick As Dreams, an e-chapbook from Patasola Press (also 2011!). He is currently finishing a novella called Dancing With Steinbrenner and, according to his blog, he is â€˜building up to something biggerâ€™.
He also publishes fiction, essays and poetry all over the web and he is the interviews editor here on Pank.
Â The physical imagery is omnipresent in this book. For example, eight out of nine poems mention either hands or arms. Often, like in the poem quoted above, they serve as symbols for affection: â€œIâ€™m measuring the distance / between your arms, my neck, / like a titration dose.â€ (from â€˜Frequencyâ€™).?Two other things we see a lot of are physics and diseases.
The diseases are often attributed to lifeless objects: â€˜[T]he scoliosis of Greyhound busesâ€™ (from: â€˜The Rebel Who Stopped Rebelling Against Urban Planningâ€™); â€˜My dresser has lockjawâ€™ (from: â€˜I Will Lose Myself In Chinese Art And American Girlsâ€™).
This ties in with Bradleyâ€™s extensive use of bodily metaphores. The body is everything and everything is body in A Patchwork Of Rooms. The body is the seat of love and the means of its expression, it is music, it is written on, it is lost, rediscovered or found dead.
Then the physics. Check out â€˜Vaudevilleâ€™ (also note that the poems are short but the title is often long and always very much part of the poem, usually adding to the bizarreness of it):
Iâ€™m emptying all my back pockets of astronomy. Ik keeps me from using the ventrilo-
quism of Stephen Hawking to quantify your body. It leaves plenty of vacancies for your
Â Again, the protagonist is trying not to do something. He is trying not to over-rationalize to leave room for his lover to love him. And again, the hand is a metaphor for affection. Here, Bradley is portraying science as the enemy, or at least the negation, of love and he is trying, as he was in the opening poem, to stay on the right side of the fight.
Themes we also see are writing itself and, closely related, the difficulty of human communication. â€˜This Poem Is Brought To You By A Letter That Wishes To Stay Anonymousâ€™, one poem is called. There is also the one quoted above called â€˜Frequencyâ€™, containing lines like â€œroll â€˜see you soonâ€™ uphillâ€ and â€˜I will eventually earn / our names on voice mail / greetings and address labels.â€™
J. Bradley writes short but very powerful poems. He touches on many of the major themes of poetry: love, lust, death, the (im)possibility of communication and poetry itself and he does so in a language condensed, visual and ominous. Such diversity and richness in a little chapbook like this is a great achievement.
Â Prowling the internet, digging through the myriad of chapbooks and e-books and litblogs and whatnot, for poetry that will blow you away, finding a little gem like A Patchwork of Rooms Furnished by Mistakes will really make your day.
~P. Jonas BekkerÂ is a writer and a poet from the Netherlands.~