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George Bradley

The Sound of the Sun

It makes one all right, though you hadn't thought of it,
A sound like the sound of the sky on fire, like Armageddon,
Whistling and crackling, the explosions of sunlight booming
As the huge mass of gas rages into the emptiness around it.
It isn't a sound you are often aware of, though the light speeds
To us in seconds, each dawn leaping easily across a chasm
Of space that swallows the sound of that sphere, but
If you listen closely some morning, when the sun swells
Over the horizon and the world is still and still asleep,
You might hear it, a faint noise so far inside your mind
That it must come from somewhere, from light rushing to darkness,
Energy burning towards entropy, towards a peaceful solution,
Burning brilliantly, spontaneously, in the middle of nowhere,
And you, too, must make a sound that is somewhat like it,
Though that, of course, you have no way of hearing at all.

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Where the Blue Begins

In the southern Adriatic, where the blue begins,
We came to rest awhile and play
On sun-drenched islands known as Tremiti,
Where the breeze blows fresh
And pine trees shiver and the salt sea
Washes the likes of you and me,
In the southern Adriatic, in the wind-blown spray.
In the bluest water, just where it begins,
We came to play awhile, came to rest
On rocky shores of barren coves,
As the swells arrived and water splashed
And reflected sunlight jumped and shimmered
Among the cliffs and overhangs and grottoes,
In the Adriatic, where that sort of thing begins.
In the clear blue water that the swells bring by
Out of the sunny Adriatic Sea,
We came to rest and play and bathe ourselves,
As the pine trees swayed on the bluffs above
And wind dispersed the salt sea spray,
In the sunny Adriatic, where a way of life begins.

[...] Read more

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Electrocuting an Elephant

Her handlers, dressed in vests and flannel pants,
Step forward in the weak winter light
Leading a behemoth among elephants,
Topsy, to another exhibition site;
Caparisoned with leather bridle,
Six impassive tons of carnival delight
Shambles on among spectators who sidle
Nervously off, for the brute has killed
At least three men, most recently an idle
Hanger-on at shows, who, given to distilled
Diversions, fed her a live cigar.
Since become a beast of burden, Topsy thrilled
The crowds in her palmy days, and soon will star
Once more, in an electrocution,
Which incident, though it someday seem bizarre,
Is now a new idea in execution.

Topsy has been fed an unaccustomed treat,
A few carrots laced with cyanide,
And copper plates have been fastened to her feet,

[...] Read more

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At The Other End Of The Telescope

the people are very small and shrink,
dwarves on the way to netsuke hell
bound for a flea circus in full
retreat toward sub-atomic particles--
difficult to keep in focus, the figures
at that end are nearly indistinguishable,
generals at the heads of minute armies
differing little from fishwives,
emperors the same as eskimos
huddled under improvisations of snow--
eskimos, though, now have the advantage,
for it seems to be freezing there, a climate
which might explain the population's
outré dress, their period costumes
of felt and silk and eiderdown,
their fur concoctions stuffed with straw
held in place with flexible strips of bark,
and all to no avail, the midgets forever
stamping their match-stick feet,
blowing on the numb flagella of their fingers--

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A Poet in the Kitchen

West Fifty-third was still Hell's Kitchen
the summer I first came to town,
Eleventh Avenue was boarded up,
the West Side Drive was falling down;
Jimmy Carter was still President,
though he'd become a running joke;
Abe Beame had recently been Mayor,
and New York City was flat broke.
I, too, was broke, the flat was free,
and so I landed in that place,
a walk-up three-room shotgun which
a gallery used for storage space
and where I could stay as long as I liked,
provided I kept an eye on the art . . .
but truth be told, it was hard to tell
where art might end and garbage start.
The premises hadn't been cleaned in years,
and clarity was not what the art was about--
there was clutter right up to the ceiling,
and I didn't dare throw anything out.

[...] Read more

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