The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Brad Rose

The Trouble with Retail


I need to spend more time in my basement, although even in the daylight, I can’t see my own eyes. Lucinda says they’re dark and distant, like someone driving through a tunnel toward a dead man’s address. Yesterday, I told the boss I voted myself a raise. He thought that was funny. When I got home from work, I fell asleep on the couch. I couldn’t tell whether the people in my dream were watching me, or if I was watching them, but I wasn’t afraid because I counted my thoughts and they added up to an even number. Same as on weekends. Before he quit, my lifestyle coach said that he read about a man who discovered a two-headed butterfly. He wasn’t sure how many antennae it had, but I’ll bet it wasn’t easy with all that in-coming information. I’m not superstitious, but I know for sure most animals can’t keep a beat. Let me tell you something. I don’t like my job. The customer’s always right, and there’re just too many things you’re not supposed to think about. Or scream.



Brad Rose



It’s like that time I was taking the bus to Vegas with Misty so we could shoot craps. She looked like she was dressed by Satan. We were smoking. Don’t recall if they were Camels or Kools. Misty said, What do you think I should wear to court next week, Ray? I said, Depends on whether you want custody of your kids, or not. Misty looked out the window like she was trying to conserve energy, burn fewer calories. She was wearing too much perfume, but I liked it. Without saying anything, she stared out the window for at least the next five miles. Then she said, I hear you, Ray, like she was closing the lid on a kid’s coffin. I asked the bus driver how long until we reached Vegas, and he told me we had about an hour’s ride ahead of us-- give or take an hour. He smiled a bus driver’s smile into the rear-view mirror. The lady in the seat in front of us was wearing a flame-red wig. I think she was Chinese or Italian. Like I said, these days, who can you trust?



Brad Rose



Don’t you hate questions? Me too. Dixie says questions are like sleepwalking, only more confusing--- like being stuck with only 99 cents in your pocket, between a convenience store and a pawnshop. Last week, I memorized the palm of my left hand. Not just the lifeline, but the whole palm. Lately, there’ve been a lot of rumors floating around. Of course, I don’t pay any attention to them. If anything goes wrong, I know someone will notify my next of kin. On Tuesday, the radio said a judge complained that the police had given the coroner the wrong body. Imagine that. Must have been a real mix-up. Yesterday, Dixie and me were walking down by the 7-Eleven on Highway 6. As a cop car passed, Dixie asked, When are you going to marry me, Roy? I told her to finish her Dr. Pepper and stop giving me static. Dixie always says that after we get a little money together and stop living on the street, we should get married, have a real wedding. She’s only half cute. Her eyes are different colors, but she’s been faithful as a Collie. We’ve been together now, for almost two weeks, and she only tried to run away once. I wonder if she’d marry me if she knew I was the one who killed her first husband. I’d have told her all about it, but she never asked.



Brad Rose

Dishonorable Discharge


While I was getting the poison out of my body, I accidentally started a fire in the bathroom sink. Maybe it was a just a coincidence? It’s hard to know for sure, especially without witnesses. Chemicals burn a lot faster now, than they did when I was a kid. Last night, I slept like a wild animal, killed. Around three-thirty, woke up thinking out loud. Maybe it was too loud. Smoked a cigarette, counted my veins. The girl in the next apartment---I think she’s a drummer in a band. She’s got a military haircut, only bluer. Some people are what they aren’t. They say shrapnel stays hidden in your body, like a secret. If you don’t tell people about it, if you don’t limp, how will they know? That girl’s hair is bluer than a movie star’s eyes. She’s paler than a glass of milk. I try not to over-think it. Although we’ve never met, I’ve been in her apartment. More than once. Pretty sure she doesn’t have boyfriend. At least, not yet.



Brad Rose



You and I have never met. It’s probably just a coincidence. Yesterday, I looked through the blinds and I saw a stranger in the back yard. He wasn’t doing much; just holding down the fort. Although he was quiet as a caterpillar, I could see his lips moving. I don’t think it was the kind of song a bird sings. Sometimes I remember things that didn’t happen. But not always. It’s a miracle that guy in the newspaper last week survived his first lethal injection. The wife of the murder victim said she forgave the killer because she knew Jesus had, but he died later, anyway. An eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth. It’s so hard to make the world a better place. His lawyer was on TV last night. I never saw a lawyer cry, before. He said the state had sentenced the wrong man to death. The judge had ignored the DNA evidence. At least Jesus and the murdered man’s wife were on the same page. It’s always good when people see eye to eye.




BRAD ROSE was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is a sociologist, and author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015 His new book of poems, Momentary Turbulence is forthcoming in late 2017 from Cervena Barva Press.  Brad is also the author of five chapbooks of poetry and flash fiction, Democracy of Secrets, Coyotes Circle the Party Store, Dancing School Nerves, An Evil Twin is Always in Good Company, and Away with Words.  Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in, Clockhouse, The American Journal of Poetry, The Los Angeles Times, The Potomac, Folio, decomP, Lunch Ticket, The Baltimore Review, Posit, The Midwest Quarterly, Boston Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, and other publications.  Brad’s website is:


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