by Brad Rose
My one-armed, little brother is 6’ 2”
his face quirked, like a question mark.
He’s back from the army,
filled with a silent language he doesn’t understand.
Says he dreams of a job,
maybe something at the post office,
or in the library, shelving books.
At dinner he tells mom he just needs a few weeks
to get his bearings.
Some mornings, I catch him in the living room
slack on the khaki couch, his blond hair growing back,
the TV’s anesthesia unplugged. He stares
out the front window, into the slow daylight.
When I ask him what he’s doing,
he says, just staying in my lane, Bro.
Just staying in my lane.
I troop upstairs to hide his nine millimeter,
The Problem of the Trees
Influenced by Derrida and Foucault,
I’m a drowning man,
Just your average homologue,
give or take 15 percent.
If I was music, I’d be a police siren,
or an Arabian shriek,
but I don’t want to cut off my own legs.
I’m thinking about 1.3 million women.
Unofficial sources say it’s not a sin,
it’s a case of popular mechanics.
The world is filled with mystery.
The Spanish Steps are in Italy,
fortune cookies are nearly free,
but these days, it seems like all my carrot stories are about sticks.
Some people tell me this is either an evasion of privacy
or catering to a niche market.
Yes, I’m a Jesus capitalist
because it’s always good to have a friend
in customer service.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned
from my many years in the wholesale circus industry,
it’s that our secrets are locked-up in ourselves, like tiny homunculi
with their hats off.
We’re plush mannequins yearning to become tan-toned statues.
Nevertheless, after I turn myself inside-out,
I hope to receive a reduced sentence.
Justine told me her skin didn’t feel like it was really hers,
so I told her to relax, its only formication.
I’m an experienced myrmecologist, even if it means keeping my pants on.
She reminded me that Socrates was convicted
by a very small majority of the jury.
That’s the problem with the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Outside, the wind struggles with the problem of the trees.
You’d think lightning could solve it.
Like a Forest, the Unsuspecting Crowd
Trekking through the natural history museum,
counting my vowels and consonants,
I like the idea of flames
the way I like paintings of trees.
A man-made lake, unmade,
my eyes, a secret country,
I once read about rage in a book
Wild animals have talent,
but they’re sworn to secrecy.
Maybe they aren’t flammable,
but you never know for sure.
I envy my shadow,
as it escapes my bones.
The only thing it lacks
is a good, clean siren.
I’ve been studying fire safety,
I can answer all the questions.
This kind of thing happens
more often than you think.
If the crowd goes wild, stampedes the doors,
who’ll bury the bodies?
On second thought, no worries.
Leave it to me.
Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author of Pink X-Ray, Big Table Publishing, 2015 (www.pinkx-ray.com). Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize in fiction, Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Folio, decomP, The Baltimore Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, San Pedro River Review, Off the Coast, Heavy Feather Review, Posit, Third Wednesday, Boston Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, The Molotov Cocktail, and other publications. Brad is the author of three electronic chapbooks, all from Right Hand Pointing: Democracy of Secrets, http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!brad-rose-democracy-of-secrets/c1ec2, Dancing School Nerves, http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!br16-home/c1ujz, and Coyotes Circle the Party Store, https://sites.google.com/site/bradroserhpchapbook/. Links to Brad’s published poetry and fiction can be found at: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/. Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard at: https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1. An interview with Brad is available at: http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!brad-interview/cfo5