John Bradley

How to Float

Let your stuffed head, adrift after falling, drop back
and empty. Even if the Dead Sea is not dead

and not a sea, lie back and tilt your chin toward
John Brown’s burying ground, keeping just

offshore. A very large vacuum on the table, near
the tea. Some humans float as though an angel

full of oxygen. The choir stilled, right through
your lungs. Some rotate into a vertical position

as though thirty miles from a coffin in a horizontal
position. Your body movements will rotate somebody

on land. A dress from an Ibsen play, a painting
of Salome carrying the head of John the Baptist

on a platter, the pencil that slept under Thoreau’s
pillow. Underwater you hear ten times: You’re not

the noises of your skull.
The second act of Doctor
. Stay alive by vibrating your chest

with no idea how to drink in the night. Old bicycle
maps in your travel bag. Some dolphins will

surrender to the fierce noises in your legs. If you’re
human, eventually you will begin to rub your skull.

Stuffed with weather history. The strangest thing,
not to drown in private whale frequencies under

the pines. An anonymous angel full of oxygen, keep
telling yourself: Not dying can be surreal.

How to Count Fastidious Sheep

I blew air into the plastic dummy’s mouth
many nights in motels. A sheep hates

to be alone. After each blackout, write
a botanist. Trust deep, dizzy-inducing

roots in Montana and Idaho. If you look
away, 70 percent of Americans will leave

a raccoon behind. Or separate the lambs
from the wolves from the John Updike

narrator. Use binoculars for the sleepless
that inhaled, exhaled, misspelled.

Consider some other sedative. Maybe
three bags of livestock fruit snacks.

I’m much stronger than you, say the Alps.
All the stoppage thrown into the head’s

head. Watch. A sheep hates the plastic
dummy’s unfamiliar mouth.

How to Control Bleeding

If you see blood, as I dream of often, grab
a shirt, towel, gazebo an hour after dark.
I choose solipsism to save a life past

the tree line. Don’t fret about your tie, shoelaces,
forbearance. Open wounds an unlit, twisting
path to the Russian River. Researchers found

a tourniquet at a peak in the White Mountains,
an inch or so higher than the spectacle. Death
in the heart or groin can visit in late September

at 3 on a Tuesday
, says the agreed-upon
physician. Blood spurting, pooling, soaking
Potrero Hill. Send a picture, Evyan wrote.

The temperature dropping. Until the bleeding stops
in stadium, school, or large building. I learned
to swim the woozy fright
, I wrote, and I did.

Avoid getting blood on sugar maples and pink
granite. Spy on me constantly. Uh-oh, babe,
you’re in the E.R.
, says the GPS. Don’t be afraid

to disappear. Blood strolling through Central Park
for months at a time. Send a picture, wrote
the Russian River. As silent and as far.

John Bradley's work has been published in Caliban, the Diagram, Hotel Amerika, Lake Effect, the Pedestal, SurVision, and other journals. He is the author of eight books of poetry and prose, the most recent Erotica Atomica, with poems on our nuclear history. For the past twenty years, he has been reviewing books of poetry for Rain Taxi.
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