Poetry Suite by J. Bradley

Editor Carrie Ivy, Poetry, August 19th, 2013

Bury the spent casings, baptize the fresh mounds of earth in the blood of questions.

j. bradley nailed poetry poem
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Sanford
a prose poem

1.

a.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman orders his platoon to give each of their rifles a woman’s name, before
saying their prayers and taking them to bed. I pick the .38 Special up from my end table, stare at the
cylinder, caress the indentations. I dip it in a bowl of water, place it beneath my pillow.

If my gun was a woman, what would she look like? Would her upper arms be lithe or quiver when her
hands accentuate sentences? Would everyone in the room pay attention to her when she spoke or
would everyone cover their ears when she cleared her throat? What names would we give our blood
when mingled together on my sheets, against a hotel room window?

Every night, I baptize the gun. Every morning, I wake up and hope water learns alchemy.

b.

“You know what happened with Bruce Wayne’s parents right,” Seth asks.

“Yeah, so?”

“You don’t need that.” Seth points at the holster on my hip.

“Crime is everywhere. You never know when it can happen to you.”

Seth turns his right hand into a mask.

c.

Pixels cross out the duck’s eyes as blades of grass sway to catch the duck at the end of its death spiral.
The beagle doesn’t laugh this time.

d.

I draw “W” from the bag of Scrabble tiles. I open the book of baby names to “W”, search for a name
that sounds like a threat when spoken.

e.

Water is still water is still ice is still rain is still hail is still snow. It does not whisper loud enough to
gun metal, does not shake memory out of its chemical bonds.

f.

When I miss the paper target with all six shots, I take the advice of Mr. White and try to smash its nose
in with the butt of my gun.

g.

“I think I’m down to ‘Xena’ or ‘Barbara’.”

“For…”

I point to my holster. “Her name.”

h.

Out on the farm, I balance the bicycle with one hand, pedal, aim, fire, pedal, aim, fire. The bale of hay
loses its left lung.

i.

I hold Barbara to the light, the halogen light of the kitchen reflecting against the gun metal. The sack of
Magic 8-Balls settles on the counter next to seven boxes of ammo. I remove one of the bullets from the
box, cut it open, swallow the gunpowder. Today, I get to know Barbara through her answers. I’ll plant
the spent casings and water them with what’s left of the 8-Balls.

+ + +

2.

They will take our guns. They will take our color and our rights and hold them on a pike for all to see.
The family will need to bend into circles. The stars are just tracer rounds God fired so we can follow
His grace.

+ + +

3.

a.

“Do you like your name?”

OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD.

“Would you like me to pick a different name?”

ASK AGAIN LATER

“Do you like being what you are?”

ABSOLUTELY!

“Do you feel bad about spilling blood?”

ASK AGAIN LATER

“Do you believe in justice?”

DEFINITELY!

“Do you trust me?”

MY SOURCES SAY NO

“Will you ever trust me?”

MY SOURCES SAY NO

“Since you don’t trust me, do you want me to throw you away?

DEFINITELY!

b.

I baptize Barbara with water. I baptize Barbara with salt. I say ten Hail Marys, asking for the gun
metal’s chemical bonds to take on the properties of trust and faith.

c.

“Do you like your name?”

YES

“Do you like being what you are?”

DEFINITELY!

“Do you feel bad about spilling blood?”

NO WAY!

“Do you trust me?”

MY SOURCES SAY NO

“Will you ever trust me?”

DEFINITELY!

I pat Barbara, bury the spent casings, baptize the fresh mounds of earth in the blood of questions.

+ + +

4.

The army of hooded sweaters reach the gates. The army of hooded sweaters knot and twist into a fist
ramming the gate. The family circles, cocks their rifles, looks at the tracer rounds twinkling in the sky.

+ + +

5.

a.

When the server leaves with my order for water with lemon, I roll the heart of a Magic 8-Ball on the
table. It says “NO WAY!”. I scan the menu for what is biggest, cheapest.

b.

The last of the scrambled eggs and ketchup don’t tell me much. I place the knife in the middle of the
plate, spin until it points somewhere. I roll the heart of a Magic 8-Ball on the table. I leave a fistful of
ones beneath the glass of water, pat the holster beneath my coat. I clutch the Magic 8-Ball’s heart in my
coat pocket before leaving.

c.

I fire my gun in the air once. I ask God to guide the bullet to where I am needed the most. I thank
Barbara for her prayer before holstering her.

d.

I baptize Barbara where the bullet landed, hints of gun metal peeking through the blood. I ask the blood
to slip in faith and trust between her chemical bonds. I swallow the spent casing.

6.

These are our guns and our color and you will not take them away from us, the family hisses at the
monster of cloth battering the gate. The family maintains a tight circle. The family fondles their pockets
full of shells.

+ + +

7.

a.

Barbara needs more hearts, the Magic 8-Ball confirms. I press my ear against the mounds of dirt. The
buried casings tell me they are still working on leads.

b.

This one’s heart is indecisive. This one’s heart boiled in envy. This one’s heart once wrapped a throat.
The one’s heart stopped asking questions. I roll the heart of the Magic 8-Ball. Barbara says we still
don’t have enough hearts. I roll the heart of the Magic 8-Ball again and reconfirm Barbara’s needs.

c.

The butterfly painted by Seth’s head flutters, wings wobbling down the wall. Barbara’s Magic 8-Ball’s
heart demands more.

+ + +

8.

These are our guns, our color, our privacy and you will not take away from them, the family yells at the
monster of cloth as it twists and swirls, battering against the gates. The family maintains a tight circle.
The family smacks their lips at the beer waiting for them when this night is done.

+ + +

9.

a.

There is a heart Barbara needs but will not tell me which one she needs. The Magic 8-Ball keeps saying
she needs more. I ask whether I’m asking the right questions.

b.

My body feeds my blood to the buried casings. The casings will ask the earth the right questions with
this new information.

+ + +

poetry j. bradley jesse bradleyJ. Bradley is the author of the forthcoming illustrated poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014). He lives at here. Author photo by Laura J. Cole.

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Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.