Poetry Spotlight: Anthony Issac Bradley
Total Bottom, Apologies to Mom
It’s these expectations of power.
Man of the house
should something nasty befall Daddy
without Mom nearby to steer
towards sensibility, away
from curious mountain lions,
or gas station fist fights.
I shouldn’t apologize
because I carried the firewood. Emptied
our trash when full of veggie skins.
But I can just hear her sighing
when her one strong boy opens up
about being jack hammered nightly.
She could be disappointed,
or maybe she would love to know her son
thrives from underneath, same as she.
Students on Grindr
reach out, ask if I’m teaching next year
because my hands-on style was easy to digest
in previous meet-ups. I have to ask
who I’m speaking to. Send a pic.
Sometimes this means boring
polo shirts and sandals,
bare calves. If the student confesses
they’ve been drinking and the club has let out,
there might be a chance of skin.
Sorry, professor, wrong photo lol.
I do enjoy their signs of life.
Dog food bowls at their heels, litter boxes
at bedside. I feel like I know them beyond semesters
when I peek at their list of kinks,
just above preferred pronouns. I can’t forget
Todd, who plagiarized Elizabeth Bishop—bondage,
light. Roberto, middle row and very introverted?
Vocal dom, but also
knots, bareback. Who wrote an A paper
on TV’s Dance Moms. Of course I’m teaching
next year, I say, then close down
the conversation. Now they know
I’m into fem, non-aggressive types. But my profile
will remain as is, especially that picture
with a Coke bottle between my legs.
Eager minds want to know,
but they shouldn’t learn from me.
I suppose if they ask, I might have to tell them
my secret—I’m a better teacher the morning after
I’ve learned from someone else.
From this window I see boys trying to get laid.
They don’t care who knows,
all walking, just smiling. When quiet
they are trying
to get laid. I could move among them
with my faux straight walk, my voice low
enough to meet the bare minimum
of masculine American standards.
Only I’m counting every year
I was afraid to find boys my age
of the same tongue
and navigational pull at churches, outside gas stations
—I heard about boys who realized their language
only to lose their tongues, eviscerated with arms
around and chained to a fencepost
like youth to temptation. Boys out for shelter
stolen away by short breaths
promising L-O-V-E. I lost years.
Four fingers in the back pocket
and a thumb that won’t fit. Close whispers.
Just a goddamn kiss on the neck.
All those small town bodies
ready for a how-to tucked away,
folded into man-made graves.
Busted like teeth. Boys like playthings.
Boys like death.
When trying to get laid
one teenage boy should not say to another
that there is this place downtown
where we can stand in an ocean
of heavy foot traffic, playfully wrestle and tug
our limbs like any straight couple
blocking the sidewalk.
Know the difference between a social kiss
and one held back
to keep a grocery run,
yogurt for two, without incident.
Dare to go further
in public, and some men
do not care to see
others trying to get laid.
Or taking hands. Buying dinner at the local.
Or simply saying, I want you.
Then I hear someone say
this is a new year. Whatever a man does,
but in private. What two men can do
when their stomachs rumble
until their idiot hearts reach out for peace.
Someone say it again. Continue as boys will,
and stop shaking . This is a new year.
I know your face is a beacon, carefree moon
with tongue performing a raspberry
I will climb for, sail or swim.
Though I am afraid of heights
and the deepness of water.
Maybe I’ll just look at you from here,
stick my tongue out until it meets yours in passing.