Two Poems
James Bradley

"Sirenum Scopuli (Angel's Dream Remix)"

Scene 1

Where slashing rocks line zigzag shores
Of hell there streams the Sirens' song
Waves crash against the wreckage lost
Of old ships half-sunk & shattered

The glitter of rifled cargo
Speckles the sea's careening arch
Spitting red wine in amazed eyes
Drifting from wanderlust to scorn

In one adolescence—a flock
Of nightingales northerly-sworn
Breaking & re-establishing
Formation—ceaseless treachery

                                     tabula rasa
                          in the                         sky
                                              the                         of th' airwaves

Scene 2

Beneath the hornéd storm cloud's web
Dripping from the fangs & swollen
With their implied muse (named Rain Man),
A further blush of the red surf—

The Sirens dance in the poppies
Sprouting from the gaps between jarred,
Scuffed tiles, o'er-earth-paved long ago,
Of a black & white checkered floor

Girls in skintight panoplies moored—
All ruby rings & aquamarine,
Sapphire amulets, pearls of th'
Impulsive hearts of mariners

And other spoils stripped from the limbs
Of those unfortunate sailors
Slit ear from ear for sordid song
On the high seas of low culture

Scene 3

                            on                          bodies
                                    tabula rasa
                                                     the Rain Man produces

Not too far ashore, not far from
The dance floor, well within earshot
Of th' effervescent slaughter
(Large-eyed animals, wary, watch)

Cameras & long-range microphones
Made to look like palm trees & coconuts
Have been artfully integrated,
Merged with the stage of the shallows

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
Captured at multiple girlish
Angles simultaneously
Mesmerize the very stars

Scene 4


Currency idiomatic
Backed by the sonorous golden bars
Lining the curved boundary of the
Unlocked prison of the senses

May stand alone should melody,
Calling, stall, tho' lone melody's
Not failed yet, & falters rarely in
Its quest to engulf th' unguarded

—Assuming, of course, the proper
Synchronization with the beat,
The Music Machine's rhythm to
Pendulums of false consciousness—

Scene 5

The Sirens sing what they are told
And bedevil one another
Vociferously in the cold
Misty doldrums of shipless nights

The seducing of seduction's
A timeworn, formulaic rite
A song that sings itself at times
Or so it seems, or so it seems

And the smiting of the contract's
All-important, absolute
Freedom-checking, proviso of

Furiously with limp petals,
Dangling earlobes & swollen tongues
Can be as bittersweet as the
Rain Man's good graces oft-bestowed

Scene 6

Idolatry, a performance
Nourished by the synthpop flourish
Of a deep-seeded restlessness
At the heart of all pastorales

Is the snake oil of the Rain Man,
There where the finite mélange of
Creation crashes, like a drunk boat,
'Gainst the deluding faculties

Of those who suppose separation
Can be quelled by instigation
Of a partner dance, one foot outstretched
Over the bottomless airwaves

                                       tabula rasa
                          in the                         sky
                                              a tambourine clash,
                                                                                             pleroma !
(childish laughter, fade to black. . .)

A Doomsday Survival Manual for Nihilists

You will need:

1) Space—enough in which to constrict
Indefinitely for eternity—
2) Time—polished glass receptacle
In the shape of a female torso—
The splinters of eternity
Known by their vacuous roar

Within which, you, the Sitter, feel
Plasmatic inner organs plash
Through grated passageways of the
Thick-yet-porous walls of your skull
Like egg & flour making the rounds
In an antique pasta grinder

The subsequent elongation
Of each strand of hair keeping pace
(You fancy) with th' everlasting
Rejuvenation of nature's
Patience which you have sought to tame
Or, to some degree, overtake

For those who ask—Meditation
Is a stone tree (petrified) lodged
In the billion-year passion play
Of a volcano's steaming tears
Bathed in a solstice sun's halo
As seen by the process itself

Th' equilibrium of th'
Opened lotus set placidly
On its stable, black water base—
Of th' incomplete pyramid
Symbolically capped by th' eye—
The pocket-watch of Sirius

Ticking away your years, swinging
From a gilded chain & aligned
With these sextets, ballad for the
Waning universe—There is no
Bedrock bearing some mystery
To our sleeping epoch

All crises can be summed up as follows—
Shameless renegade thoughts
Visit banal forms of torture
On the void
—The hollow silence
Underlying all sound is the
Velocity of time passing

Through a hollowed-out glass log whose
Diameter—th' under-sound—
Is defined only by the bulge
Of time, like the purple ghost
Of perfume expanding to fill
The cracks of a sealed sepulcher

The ruins of the west will waste,
Dissolved for th' ontic offence
Of existence—Milton the Blind
Becomes (as he was destined) the
Chronicler of sight defined—while
Your (the Sitter's) breath bellows on

Silence & vegetables reclaim
The geometry of cities
Once-populous citadels on the
Sidereal speck of planet
Forsook by Man & Machine, his
Ancillary plague of logic

Sooner or later burning out
In his wake leaving no embers—
Great herds of beasts waltz right into
Each other's mouths & disappear—
Mountains, lunatic, rise & fall
Mathematic as swells of the sea

Ancient earth's crescendo turning
Gyres wide—burst in the frozen void—
Still you (Sitter) sit, half-closed eyes—
Tho' mindful of the mess, unmoved—
On a floating shard perched, bastardized,
In the peacefulness you have wrought

James Bradley is an artist and writer living in San Francisco. His chapbook Mirrors of Azazel was published by Hexagon Press in 2014.