Bradley Paul




Our lawn is small.
I bring out the old manual mower.
My son, four months,
sits on the porch
on his mother’s lap.
The mower clanks and whooshes.
The blades are dull.
I push three feet forward,
two feet back,
three forward.
My son furrows
his infant brow.
He shouts.
A baby bark.
I smile at him.
He shouts again.
I say, “Hello!”
Then he wails.
He is afraid of the mower.
It is the first time
he has shown fear.

He will dream of this one day.
I have dreamt it.
Something horrifying,
your father behind a machine
that does not slash but rips
with dull unstopping blades.
You shout to stop it
but your father just smiles.
Or your son crawling
into the surge of the nighttime sea,
or your dog ignoring
your command to come in
and then your plea:
she stares into the darkness of the yard
then walks into it
and in the morning there is nothing
but grass.
Your shouts do nothing.
You do not have the word Stop
or any other word
to stop anything.
This, son, will happen often.




Something about this room is off.
The timbre of its air.
The flavor of its existence.
Foreign, like other people’s groceries:
this woman buys only that hippie bread
that has to be kept in the refrigerator,
that man eats pickled pearl onions.
Here’s a family that drinks Mr. Pibb.
Their sweat tastes different
and the microbes that eat their sweat
smell different when they die
and fall with the skin flakes
into the rugs and mattresses.
They look so similar but
the death of your skin is different
from the death of my skin.
Your home is a coffin of weird.




an English word amid
a mechanized blur of others
kanst du durch das
McDonald’s drive-thru fahren
gli indigeni offrono la ragazza
al King Kong
your meaning immediate
and transparent
without translation
or pause or noise
and to any passerby who hears
the hitch of my woolen skin
I seem
of domestic brains
and bone again


BRADLEY PAUL‘s work has appeared in American Poetry Review, ActionYes, Smartish Pace, and other journals. His second book of poetry, The Animals All Are Gathering, was selected by Jean Valentine for the AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, and was published in 2010 by University of Pittsburgh Press. He lives in Los Angeles.


Read more work by Bradley Paul:

Two poems in 42opus
Six poems in ActionYes
Poem in Drunken Boat
Two poems in B O D Y