The cello lessons were preparation for extravagating the banal and stirring thresholds of others. Our love affair began in the aughts during the collapse. My only grandmother suggested serenading 

Bradley J. Fest

Soon, a second partner in​ the heart-skip-beat mambo



As for we who “love to be astonished,” each new bit of knowledge is merely indicative of a wider ignorance. There are ecstasies of rock and of vacuum.

            —Lyn Hejinian, My Life


the desert forever. Midwinter has capitulated. There were other concerns: loosely, discouraging pink clothing and triangulating the errors that produce leviathan. The woman at United Parcel Service was learning how to be and live with others. Become ocean. At one time, Dad sang cowboy lullabies; another, listened to talk radio. This would stream, as in: gush, as in: Florentine. But if only there were more time. Piles of rock salt joined the faded blue carpet’s fate after my frigid trek in rugged new boots to the poetry office in the morning. “The obvious analogy is with” an earthquake life. I am the addressee of your weakest apostrophe. This is all just space. Frequently we question our inability to move past the anal stage, its incandescence. There are over three hundred pages in that campus novel. My theory trends toward demise. Thawing and dripping, the tamales arrived from my sister-in-law on time but a day late. Party favors will be given to guests on departure, though there will be no singing. As a brother and son, a young person, I was sometimes wicked. The candle lit itself while the microwave threw sparks. I had no more bones to break. “A broad conception of lyric as genre is helpful . . . permitting exploration of its historical tradition, making salient its discursive strategies and possibilities in a range of periods and languages.” Easily, the new menu exhausted your guests and sent a shockwave of fright into every country’s sun. Where is that vile cat? The new expectations derived from millennia of recalibrated traditions have inundated the past-tense sentence with senescence. In August, we sang our collectivity on an island in the bay. Sidereal nomenclature, landscapes (mountains, ocean), and heavy optical filters (maybe an eclipse) do not merely, always, only suffice for profundity. The jurisdiction of at least this sheriff rarely extends beyond your room, a welcome barrier, sometimes crossed. The dusk in us. My mother was once John Elizabeth and fed the dogs of a movie star; later, we joined her joyous dance in ridiculous hats. Where has all the shame gone (oh wait, it’s still here). In those days, I had a mistaken notion about the imagination. Even after all those attempts, my pasta sauce came out watery and bland. Birth’s hope suffuses each limit. We make the same joke again and still giggle.


Bradley J. Fest is assistant professor of English at Hartwick College. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015) and The Shape of Things (Salò, 2017), along with a number of essays on contemporary literature and culture. More information is available at