B r a d  R o s e

Detroit, Unemployed, Three Years


Febrile verbs, flagrant shapes,
tighten with a box-end wrench, until snug.
In a certain light, everything sounds like noise to me.
My house is dreaming
I’m not in it.
I would be a man of Paris, but I’m not.
It’s this damned Detroit,
the pounding, the gunshots.
Cranking out all this GDP on two cylinders
is exhausting.
It’s sure no party trick.
Of course, I can’t say I wasn’t warned
ugly feelings are the loudest.

Tonight, I step out on the front porch for a smoke.
The sky drags itself through the vacant trees.
I’ll be damned, if my car hasn’t forgotten again, where it’s parked,
but it doesn’t matter.
It’s not going anywhere, anyway.

Tehachapi Seven Eleven

Wedged between the customers and the Marlboros,
I’m stationed at the register,
cans of Red Man, Copenhagen, Durango, and Rooster, a scrim behind me.
Salt-sweet jerky sticks stuffed in a cookie jar, 
cash in the drawer,
lottery tickets draped like flags of fictitious countries.
Scratch and win.

Outside, in the heat, the pumps line-up, white and blue,
black hoses, akimbo.
A gallon of gas costs an hour’s pay.
You can wash your car,
if you want. Or drive off, dusty.

Thursday’s my day-off.
I get up and get dressed.
The sun rises like a slow yawn.
There’s a note still on the kitchen table.
It’s in her handwriting:
Go fishing, it says.
Drain the lake to catch the fish.

The house is empty now.
She took both the kids.  Neither of them was mine.
I wasn’t the first one to notice her 17 year-old,
sorry and pretty as a freshly painted bungalow,
little smudge of a smile.
The kind that runs toward trouble, not away.
I think about her.
It used to bother me, but not anymore.
You get used to it.

Force acting on an object,
speed of light, the same for everyone
gravity pulling everything down,

     rod and reel, lure and bait.


The house shoves its roof into the led gray air,

weeds ooze  through the vacant driveway,

sky squeezes down,  no temperature, to speak of.

The taste of the future is chalk in my mouth.

Fear seeps into everything, the roots, the dust, the stars.

Furniture of bones bristling in a stone-still season,

I am the emptiest room in the world.

When the bank phones I wake, like a bullet,

my dream of Spartacus rent by its ring.

Brave as he was, the slave’s dead body was never recovered.

I don’t answer, as I make myself at home.


Brad Rose was raised about a mile from where the Apollo space capsules were built, and about 240,000 miles from the moon.  He is singlehandedly attempting to paint the U.S. debt ceiling.  Links to his poetry and miniature fiction are here: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/



is now publishing poetry and prose
inspired by these, uh, "tough economic times."  

Your editors/mortgage-backed securities managers:  
Howie Good, Dale Wisely, F. John Sharp
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