Three Poems by Brad Liening

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Three Poems


Brad Liening


Insightful attention to context

Reflects a toxic download

Weaned on generational neglect.


Countdown to culture bound

Metaphysical slouch and apathy,

One start-up away from a suburb


In which financial analysts fund

The opposition into comfort

And fantastic anniversaries.


Startled into ubiquitous song,

Dead bodies produce respectable,

Dissenting manifestoes.


I’ve Been Sick

Cold hands slap the sweat and bow down.

Technology recovery programs litter

The latter part of the bit century.


It’s a bleeding that fogs the swallow,

The paddleboat full of ghosts

Marking a refracted anniversary


Kept alive in ceremonial songs

Taught to hoodwinked kids

Lining the smoking banks.


Tarred and feathered and bled

To a dram of whiskey at the crucifixion party,

The family tree just burns and burns and burns.




Stuck tunnels exude valorous roaring.

Insurrectionist marching rings in reaction

To irreducible dead-end verdicts.


Draggy despair loops the piling on

In hard smacks and flits from

Awful triumph to outrageous disgrace,

Filling the air with idiocy like a selfie.


Our children’s seepage vibrates and begins.


Hot gel reddens the appendicular

Recording in the souped-up Google

Acting as ad hoc cannery

In a blurting hemorrhage of regret.


A glorious parody we can hang

Our hushed velvety hats on

In a druggy age of decimated fasting

And symbolic gestures twiddling

Around our far-flung and dim diasporas.


All my friends posting great surfeits

Of photos stuck mid-twitch and dead.


Top-down decrees flatten the imagination


Toiling in the dusty bowls

Of forgotten wanton action


Grown bony and slim in gummy talking

Flashed out across the tedious years

Of pyrrhic calculations forever lagging

Behind the dunderheaded steaming appeal,


Feeling the grinding drool

Based in the baser bases of tools

Wound up and down in alcohol-fueled

Paroxysms of applauding surges.


Carved initials floating in space

Ratify the dumbed-down doubt and combust.


Stigmatized scraps hoot and fool

The cool sidebar of celebrity opinion

And log the loss into the seemingly acceptable,


Tanks of razors trundled through a night

That’s causing cancer in the community

Of upstream department store soirees.


Open season begs obvious advantage

And purges the nipping urges

In the worst possible ways made okay

Via rowdy apologies smoothed and arranged.


Kamikaze appropriation laces the wild

Highways and uneven distribution engaged

In constant and dainty escape

Converging in synchronized baloney.


Bastardized butchery sings the hymn

And flogs the appalled absence.


Poetic Statement: I’m against flummery and mannerly poems of introspective melancholy. I’m for noise and direct engagement with the world.

BIO: Brad Liening is the author of DEATH SALAD, available from gobbet press.



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Shelby Stephenson

Did Lord Bacon write the works attributed to Shakespeare?

I do not know much more than this: bacon’s
The back and sides of the shoat, cured by salting and drying.
(We had a salt-box in the right-hand corner of the corn-crib.)

I had an FFA project one time − a baconer.
Her name was Shelby’s Lady.
She was a pedigreed Duroc.
Billy Wright Stephenson grew her from a piglet to a nice-sized pig
And he brought her to me in a hog-box.

My word! Carolina Pride!
Oscar Mayer Delicious Hand-Trimmed, Super Thick Cut Applewood Smoked!
Hormel Natural Choice; Uncured Smoked Duck Bacon; FUD Tocino Original Sliced Bacon;
King Cotton Hickory Smoked Bacon; Wright Bigger, Better Bacon; My Essentials Hickory Smoked Bacon; Smithfield Naturally Hickory Smoked; Gwaltney Hardwood Smoked
Premium Sliced Bacon; Farmland Foods; Plumrose USA; Butterball Turkey Bacon; Tyson Foods; John Morrell; Blue Ribbon Bacon; Boss Hog Beef Bacon; Bacon Ranch Crunch; Bakon; Boar’s Head; America’s Favorite Bacon; Rogue-Voodoo-Bacon-Ale; Baconnaise; Candied Bacon.

I can hear my mother say
Shub, get me some streak of lean to cook with the turnips − fresh hogmeat’s better than cured.”
Frankly I prefer side meat − fatback.


Shelby Stephenson’s Family Matters:  Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, Allen Grossman, judge.