Ryan W. Bradley splits his time between working at a University bookstore and doing freelance book design. He received his MFA from Pacific University and his poetry and fiction have been published widely online and in print. He is the author of three poetry chapbooks including Mile Zero, Prize, and Code for Failure.
"[Bradley and Tomaloff] are poet's poets, both — and their collaboration is a voyeuristic glimpse into the witchcraft of each poets' dark process and a fine read to boot."
My brother used to build these rockets we’d launch when we were kids that would blast up into the atmosphere forever. We searched and searched to find out if its explosive magic would ever manifest in the vacant lot where we stood staring up into the sky. We were sure it had found its way to another planet, but then somehow this white, phallic-shaped thing would plummet back down into our world again, intact but with burn marks, changed. That’s what happens when you pack together the right ingredients. You come up with an implosion of the spontaneously combustible kind. Ryan W. Bradley and David Tomaloff are that kind of ammunition. They obliterate us with their aerobatics of language and rhythm that bring us back to ourselves. We can imagine that we have escaped, but forget that you are a mammal and you had better watch your back.
the afternoon is a tourist a noose
with its arms spread out like a clock
when it is Sunday afternoon I make believe.
play the part of the father left rotting in the den
a half empty glass for the fifth time today
the dampened spark of ice cubes failing to ignite
this is a time capsule raised from barren soil
the aging bomb shelter of the nuclear family —
Bradley and Tomaloff mesmerize us with their transmission of cadence and meter. It’s music, improvisation with the volume turned all the way up, quadraphonic sound and we’re standing trying to hold ourselves together in the midst of it.
where then is the skin
we peeled from one another,
the would be bone-clothes
in which we earned our scars?
what we struggled so long to support,
to cut our teeth on failure
building a better ribcage
to house a more broken heart.
You Are Jaguar is two hands shaking in the woods, two voices wandering in our heads stretching the territory we didn’t know we spanned, a dueling navigation of subterfuge that surfaces and exposes itself within every stanza.
draining like suburban gutters
into the careful concealment
of flowerbeds below . . .
& with it go my teeth
cut for hurricanes,
holding fast to the edges,
of the photos we’ve become:
This is a collection that blasts through us with the violation of our truths. There is nowhere to go but inward. We must own the beauty and debauchery of the animals that we are.
. . . if you are the mandible, I am
the mouth swallowed whole I am
the glint in the city’s eye recapturing
a sense of how to crave the jungle.
Bradley and Tomaloff are packing in the ammo and setting off the fuse. Get a copy of You Are Jaguar and find out where you land; scorched, yet transformed.