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Once, I was an Angry Pengiun by J. Bradley Š 2012 by J. Bradley Penguin : Matthew New Title font : bebas cover: NAP chapbook: NAP

Once, I Was An Angry Penguin

J. Bradley

There Is No Poetry Without The “O” I’m not burning for you. It is the lighter fluid five feet away from the fuse of the bottle rocket that will hit the mannequin hand which will fire the crossbow into the floating balloon, dropping a breath mint and an unopened condom into my palm. The fire extinguisher is beneath the bed. The cell phone is open, 9-1-1 already dialed. I checked the crossbow sights twice. I Googled the most direct route to the emergency room. I promise nothing will go wrong.

Get The Wheel. Let’s Got For A Ride.

I fingered your number like loosened buttons. The walls rehearsed weighing your hands. My shoulder blades spelled vowels. Consonants kissed beneath the arch of my back. My curled toes serenaded them like a gondolier. I closed my eyes like pennies.

The Glove Compartment Is Inaccurately Named Shade my teeth with your lipstick. Lose all the chewing gum you want accidentally. I do not gorge and purge. I sawed holes in my stomach. I sit on my couch upside down to get what I swallowed from my toes. You are the eating disorder I always wanted.

Missing You Is An Olympic Sport

I hold my thumb and forefinger wide, develop a callus regarding our distance.

I exhausted the vault of my gums and teeth. My hands burn like Polaroids when thinking of your neck.

I gouge numbers from calendars except for the ones that matter; I’m the champion of counting backwards.

A Letter From A Former Flightless Bird

Once, I was an angry penguin. I carried grudges on my back like rockets. I mainlined the ashes of the Wright Brothers. When I jumped off a chair, I still fell.

My shoulders and arms didn’t take to wax, feathers, or sunlight; all I’m capable of piloting is wine.

I named your arms ‘labyrinth’. I ate apples caught in mid fall.

East Delaware Place I’m sorry I broke quarantine. I intended to leave behind a sore throat, raw cellular structure differently. When you cough, imagine my mouth is an orderly soothing your neck.

When you sweat, collect it in washcloths. Use them to remind me the proper flavor of a fever.

When you can’t get out of bed, pretend I’m next to you, smack the Snooze button like my cheek; I’ll ask for more in nine minutes.

No Song Titles Were Harmed In The Writing Of This Poem On the days your body spoils, I’d still kiss you even when you grit your teeth.

I’ll let you call my arms a buggy, collect everything you need in them while your Pasteurization unravels, pretend Kardashian reality television can armor white blood cells. Make my chest an emergency room. My hands will see you now.

This Pricey Stuff Makes Me Dizzy Friday nights, I run rejection drills in the bathroom mirror, sharpen the machete of your name.

Saturdays, I drink at home alone. After the third, “Hi” McDunnough and I talk about fatherhood, the filthy romance in armed robbery. I’ll keep the pantyhose away from my head, my hands unloaded at all times.

The Monogamist Flunks Botany While you slept, I emptied the champagne bottle.

I sat on the edge of the bed like a crow’s nest, peered at the television for shore.

I rehearsed the way I would give you flowers; that’s why you woke up with an empty wine glass near your face, in my fist.

Suze Orman Dreams In Seminars I need to teach your arms the fiscal responsibility of cuddling.

I’ll wear six pairs of boxers, the fly gagged with duct tape as an embargo. I’ll record Ben Bernanke, cut out the words I need, then put them back together as guiding hands. I’m taking away your paper and ink so you can’t flood the market with promises.


“There Is No Poetry Without The ‘O’” originally appeared in Bluestem. “Get The Wheel. Let’s Go For A Ride” originally appeared in Red Lightbulbs.

“The Monogamist Flunks Botany” and “A Letter From A Former Flightless Bird” appeared in NAP. “East Delaware Place” originally appeared as part of The Serotonin Factory’s Friday Love Poem series.

“No Song Titles Were Harmed In The Writing Of This Poem” originally appeared in decomP.

About the Author J. Bradley is the Interviews Editor of PANK Magazine. He lives at Other books by J. Bradley:

Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009) The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You is a Robot (Safety Third Enterprises, 2010) My Hands Are As Thick As Dreams (Patasola Press, 2011) A Patchwork of Rooms Furnished by Mistakes (Deckfight Press, 2011) The Jujitsu of Macking (Red Ceilings Press, 2011) Our Hearts Are Power Ballads (Artistically Declined Press, 2011) How Esmeralda Estrus Got Her Revenge (Corrupt Press, 2011) We Will Celebrate Our Failures (NAP, 2012) Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012)