Vessels and text

New Work


That Darn Fox

I Shot Myself in the Foot

Old Work

I Gave Her My Shoes
By Bradley Bowers

I gave her my shoes
For a little happiness
It seemed like
An even trade at the time
But now the sun is setting
It’s hot and I’m thirsty
It has been two hours since
She ran down the gravel road


Wound Patron

She told me it wasn’t a good idea... That was four years ago. Brie and crackers. A brown and beige marbled cheese. A plate of smoked salmon with capers to the side. The capers were tart. I love capers. I carried around my plastic glass of Merlot like a prop. I walked around the room, pausing at each piece of art. Looking interested, feeling preoccupied. Earlier the bartender at the neighborhood Italian restaurant up-sold me from a glass of scotch to veal on a bed of linguini. I spent fifty dollars. I learned how to make reduced balsamic vinegar. I can make a carrot ginger soup or a duck served on pasta with a white cream sauce and decorate the plate with the reduced vinegar… I pretend to sip my wine and move to the next painting. It was red. But who was I kidding, she was right, it was a bad idea.



I think I have a photo

Eat Your Vegetables

As we pieced it together, the next table got history wrong, though confidently and better dressed. Across the patio, a couple sat, talking in whispers – she sat passively staring, at a brick wall? Reflections in a French door? Or some other distant place I couldn’t see, as he ran his hand through her dark wavy hair. We sat silently, waiting for our server to bring our next gin and tonic – which never solved anyone’s problem, but we could always hope…

For dinner I had lamb, cooked rare; she had marinated fish, both with grilled vegetables and bread. As she told me what had happened over the past month, I watched the chef cook on the outdoor grill. History is sometimes astonishing and sad… fucked up. She was trying not to relive it while I struggled to understand. Occasionally flames burst upward and the chef had to push them back with his glass of white wine. It was a good meal, but I was angry and concerned for my friend. I had little to offer in comfort or advice. I had nothing to say… but sorry, and I wasn’t even to blame.

I lifted my glass and let the condensation drip to the side of the table, forming a small pool on the brick. I tilted my head back and turned to the right to glimpse the loud drunken people who now abused their waiter, then across to the woman with the hand in her hair. I wondered if she was happy. I wondered if the waiter was put off by his customers. These observations were acute but inept. I swung the glass up to my mouth, pausing to tip the glass with my pinky, for the last drop of condensation to fall. I was vaguely aware that while I’m filling space constantly and possibly gracefully, I probably smell like onions.



David’s Ascension To the Ceiling
By Bradley Bowers


David was in love. He could tellbecause of the loneliness. He pinned a note to the inside of his lapel in case something should happen. People should know he was in love. He built himself a fine rowboat that he christened Tara. Launching Tara Eastward he embarked on the Exploration of unknown Isles and inlets. He traveled for many months, trading cigarettes for food and drink. With sign language and crude sketches he told the natives of his amazing tales of courage and bravery. After over a year at sea he contracted scurvy and his family practitioner sent him home. In his dark and empty home he paced throughout the night, thinking about the sea, waiting for dawn, hoping tomorrow he would sleep. Kneeling by his bed, he cried and said a prayer. He was so lonely. David felt a light brush his closed eyes, and a hand reaching out to touched his still heart, slowly he ascended upwards, toward the ceiling. It wasn’t what he prayed for, but he’d take what he could get.


The 36 Stages of Grief
by BradleyBowers

Lambs lost, David whispers. He posted flyers all over town. He stood in the rain. He cried out her name. He cleaned the dishes in his sink. He sat by the phone and waited until the ringing drove him to the porch in the rear of the house. He lit a candle. Wrote a poem. Fed the cats. Smoked a pack of cigarettes. Drank a bottle of wine. Drove his car into a ditch. Lay naked in the woods. Yesterday, he wore his steel gray suit with the shoes she had given him. A Christmas present, he thinks, but he’s not sure. Anyway, he imagined he looked steady - well composed. Had he forgot to water the plants for the entire week? He could hear the river and cars on a nearby road. He counted stars for as long as he could and when he fell asleep he kissed her goodnight.

The Four Arms of David

It wasn’t the first time David lost his arm in a coal mining accident. Doctors were able to attach it twice before and David did it once himself, but this time he decided to leave it down with the cold twisted metal that tore it from him. Two years passed before David told his wife why he left his arm down in the mine. How it had freed him from the machinery that controlled his life and the demons that ravished his soul. His daily journey took him down into the chilly shaft, only to rise again later after the sun set. Tired and lonely, he’d shower off the coal dust and drive home to find her asleep. He would curl up in bed, his fears cradling him asleep. Did his wife still love him? Would he ever be happy again? Maybe he would never wake?

When an undetected buildup of gas in the lower shaft exploded, David was trapped under the coal excavator, one half mile below the Earth’s surface. The courageous rescue crews worked frantically for five days to save David and his coworkers. When the light from a rescuer’s lantern burst through the pile of rubble, the ragged and dazed men glimpsed heaven. The papers called it a miracle. The corporate office said it was a terrible tragedy and closed the mine indefinitely, leaving three hundred unemployed. David took his wife’s hand and peered deep into her eyes reaching for depths he had never reached before. “For five days I fought their demons, dodged the fiery breath of Satan’s serpent beast. His mouth was as large as a small car and his hands were scaly, with razor sharp claws. He took my arm but I was prepared to give my life if it would win back my soul.”

David’s wife sobbed. She embraced her husband, silently whispering in his ear, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She reached over for the phone and dialed a number posted on the end table. One day later, David, a seemingly healthy man, with two arms, who was captain of his junior varsity soccer team and who once slayed a giant, was institutionalized.

© 2007 Bradley Bowers