James Bradley

The plucking of a lone, slender
Silver hair—a fair postponement
Of the aging process? Deep lines
Will ever score the dry, shrunken

Brow of the crumbling facade of
The temple once called Beautiful
Inscribe grotesquery (mockingly)
On youthfulness & longevity

The elongating shadows of
Small-leaved linden in full bloom blot
The thoroughfare like splashes of
Spilt ink on a lace table mat

As threadbare floral print dresses
And the sullied cotton slips strewn
Over splintered dining room chairs
And witch’s bric-a-brac dream dreams

As rouge, oils & lipsticks in their
Painterly ardor dream dreamers
And as fruit flies with fructose eyes
Dream dreaming in shrinking spirals

Tracings of the noon samsara
Awaiting the dawning of dreams
Like the golem awaits motion
Chanting “Ana Nisi Masa”

The Assassins creep from crevice
To cleft with a delicacy
Belying their reputation
For arbitrary retribution

Indecent annunciations
To impressionable teenagers
And awkward avowals to fraught, ripe-
But-vestal innkeeper’s daughters

All phantasmagorical Prague
is dancing high on the crown
Sephirah of a tree of life
in process of metamorphosing
into any number of the most
unpleasant of eventualities

Twisting weeds sprout through the floorboards
Of a dismal ghetto cottage
Between whose paper membranes struts,
Linden blossoms set in her hair,

A naked, glowing peasant girl
Immodest in vainglory’s garb
Of dreams & the obsession of
Its coal eyes on her diamond flesh

(A vivid recent memory)
Meanwhile falling heavy against
A crumbling brick & mortar wall
East of the Old New Synagogue

An ancient woman carries on
A flight more ancient still—the past
Dragged screaming through the Altschulgasse
A cartel of automatons

The Assassins
Come to collect

About the Author

James Bradley is an artist and writer living in Portland, Oregon. His paintings have been exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, Verum Ultimum Gallery, and elsewhere. He received an MFA in painting from the California College of the Arts in 2009.