The Shape of Things I


We’ll fashion new tool sets out of 2600s, impaling boar
with joysticks unless I reassert my audacity, my yawp.
Fossils of couples twined around one another, wrapped in
their little deaths, shall be found once a year: it’ll be called
archaeaster. Slow menageries of people sporting prosthetics of all
kinds—additional head, screw on food processor, tambourine
maw—will roam the rusted shipyards, gleaning. From there, the mills,
the railyard, downtown—planting corn between the cracks
in the pavement, between the ancient metal sarcophagi. Yesterday

I mapped the waveform of a shockwave. Leftovers from
galaxial interpenetration, suns thrown into the void, planets dying.
This all takes a very long time. I will be scattered tomorrow,
distributed across the globe in a flurry of activity. This does not
take terribly long and is considered common. I will cross some
thresholds but the time for transgression is past. What remains
is to channel and select what is (t)here. Force your favorite chair
to begin shouting, making a scene. Induce a coma. Foster
a child, only forget it on a kindly neighbor’s doorstep. She

will ascend to some minor bureaucratic position, overseer
of collective farming in the southeastern Atlantic rustbelt,
quashing inner-office squabbles over planning the new pogrom.
Or else grow up to become a manager of the Gap or something.
I know. We’re fostering whole new levels of detached mirth
about the narcissistic landslide we all collectively prevented,
remember? The pretention (was also gross hyperbole).
But we definitely deserved awkward thanks. We have been
productively subtracting bodies from the field; you’re welcome.


The muses have become barbarian hordes. Roaring across
the moors in their suped-up Land Rovers and Humvees,
excreting inspiration-dealing Ithacans upon the unsuspecting
countryside. Some warning would have been appreciated.
At least for a cleanup crew.1 There are currently entire new

modes of understanding appearing every few microseconds
then disappearing forever, the moment’s potential untapped,
a cosmic accident of no consequence. We shall all bow down
to sheer statistical improbability. Force majeure. There are miles
of neurons to extract from my fingers, pulling at the root.

As a pretender, one simply knows the racket. See, a familiarity
with the rulebook is not unexpected. Though of course allowances for
a certain amount of entropic emergence should be made: sedate
the hardluck fathers gambling the week’s grocery money. Let them
lie on these mortuary slabs glistening into the next century.

1 To answer the question: “what do you want to do after the orgy?”


Oh. Yeah. The shadows of seagulls are back. And
all the color is going to rot out on the inside. Your

birthday jailer has a letter. The address is smudged,
but congratulations, I think you’ve won an all expenses

excluded vacation to sunny Megiddo. With a balcony
overlooking the battleground. What a spectacle.


A prolonged adolescence is the shape of things.
We are ambivalent. There may be something (virtually)
on fire. More likely our expectations are being met. Marginally,
but still. The powerviolence infects. Lackadaisical nearness

to devices and accessories, all the new killer apps. Will
it turn your eyeballs blue, reflecting the light of
the nuclear-informatic pulse, seared by data? Our decline,
fermented in hazy LED prophecies, loses its parameters,

its affecting derealizing gloss, its tones of jubilant
catastrophe, its discordant themes. The symbols
of the end cast no shadow in the holocaust of screens.
They retreat into the dim background synesthesia. Goodbye.

Winter, or, Some (Future) Ambiguities

In some future iniquitous and hyperborean breast
there is naught but cradle and cleansings—
piecemeal, unvocalized, penury . . . and
laughing stock-tickers speculating
on charges trumped-up and waylaid.
These cloud-bending palliatives are
washing monumental virgin hands
in ancient rime, converting the infantile
diaspora of the snow-blanched mundanity
countenanced therein to pale sods
and quick-lime. An augury: this notion that
fantods without conceal drifting stasis.
Be sure to pick-up the dry-cleaning,
for the salt-precipitate undoes this motion.
Cloth and singular leather, needed as
crown-laurel-leaves aren’t, will consecrate
dread nights as catapulted investments.
Frostbitten they will be when the oil-wells
forget paths well-laid and go spinning off
with their standing reserves. Many will starve.
We will be fine, feasting on the zombified limbs
of the more fortunate, who, having escaped the emergent
trepidation usually associated with a winter in exurbia,
finally submitted to cognitive mapping—
holding them and withheld from us.
Yes, there will still be an us and them.
But not spatial, nothing resembling demarcation,
just a sort of howling and mechanical repetition.
Heard will be a new call-to-action:
“Cyborg up, you useless supplementals.
Your harried additions prove nothing but
the rule of archival distractedness and
a dominated intellect.” In other words,
work. Work the pumps and presses,
and gild this climate by redirection;
there is still something on Mauritius
worth exterminating by replication.
It is cold outside this hearth, and an amorphous
nano-cloud is falling. The bot-snow
is heard crackling in our fires.
For now though, a mere whiteness,
interrupted by some windows and
what proves to be a chlorophyll filled arborescence.

We’re Just Like Yesterday’s Headlines

Pantomiming fractal geometries, I’d like to write
porous graffiti into your skin along trajectories of
nuclear luminosity, to bathe your bones in spectral radiation,
resplendently inscribing the boundaries of tradition
into what no longer resembles a soul. Not to back-out
at the last moment, when diamonds of fallout are cutting
your esophagus, but to caress with postprandial-
Geiger-counter your networked-being takes effort. Wrap
this linen around tight. It’s cold in the launch tubes waiting
for snowballs to fly their arcs. Don’t despair. Millions
of people are waiting for you. Please refrain from disappointing.

Tomorrow I want to hold the debris of my own body cupped
in my hand to scatter at a victimless crime scene. Amidst
the ash will be a kind of synthetic cancer, a virus for matter.
Tread this glassy wasteland carefully, the mirroring
of my ruined visage is terrifying in the spiraling and refracted
illumination of my capillary discharge, my atomic neocortex.
Yon pilgrims cutting their already bandaged feet on the
topographically precise crystalline outcroppings deserve not your sympathy.
I’d wash, but the tears of this fabulist history flow too slowly.
Don’t be concerned. There is enough emulsion to go around
as long as we remember to fuse our eyes to the future.

Which we can’t. There are too many pages burning in the
solar parallax of the afternoon. Mega-narratives falling
against the day, from our otherworldly, almost Talmudic
despair we imagine cross-currents in the fabric of strangers
dying every day. Rippling softly, these mountainous atolls
rock their desiccation with aplomb and grace. Almost frothing.
I’m cretinous. And lewdly awaiting luddite biker-mommas
straddling a fourth-wave matriarchal rearrangement into
some dystopian nightmare, something familiar enough to retain its
violence but unhinged by its own emphasis on domesticity:
toddler’s car-seats aflame in their own projection of bukimi.

But we should perhaps not get over-anxious. There are already
plenty of reasons to delay. Gratification leans pleasantly into
the wind from kodaliths, albums of grainy images: putti
all done up in various stages of transvestitism awaiting
some gathering of forces. Henry Adams sits at the head
of their table, holding forth on the virtues of the castanet
when employed in the dance of Shiva’s disengagement from the world.
I’d advise my own rapt attention: it turns upon the collateral
we paid for the further disenfranchisement of Gödelian monks.
Liberation has no frequency except in the august haze of
abiding nostalgia that we inhale like fiends, and you perish.

: : : : :

BRADLEY J FEST teaches literature as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. His poems have appeared in After Happy Hour Review, BathHouse, Flywheel, PELT, Open Thread, Spork, 2River View, and elsewhere. His first collection of poems, The Rocking Chair, is forthcoming from Blue Sketch Press. He blogs at The Hyperarchival Parallax.

Three Poems
Bradley J Fest