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de/tonations - Brad Rose


The speakers of Rose’s poems harbor conspiracy theories, seethe with violent tendencies, mangle clichés and invent bizarre similes. The poems reel from unanswerable questions to flashes of wisdom to twisted aphorisms, and leave us gazing into the abyss, laughing. This is a delightful and ominous book

      Margaret Young, author of Almond Town


Weight 5 oz

Read excerpts

Was feeding the snakes, when it dawned on me, the deeper you drill, the farther back in time you go. I’m afraid of my sleep because, like a shadow at night, there’s nothing in it. I’ve read a lot of books about animal magnetism, but taming an invisible force is harder than it looks. When Tammy-Lynn accidentally caught me planning my surprise party, she said, Most people close their eyes at an execution. It’s an involuntary reflex. A hundred million years without out arms or legs, grape-sized brains – you wonder how snakes have accomplished anything? Quiet, nearly smiling, a rattler yawns before it devours its venom-paralyzed prey – swallows it whole and squirming. Thinks nothing of it.

Wedding Memories

Invited my ex to the wedding. In a cigarette-soaked voice, she growled, Real gentlemen prefer lawns. The sky grew black with penguins as the gathered crowd longed for amnesia and better credit scores. In the distance, florescent dogs could be heard casually cursing God. Arrayed in a few yards of a cotton-poly blend, my fiancée had the look of taxidermy about her, perhaps a premonition. Sometimes the mailman must deliver his own mail. Since I’ve been working at being less awkward, I felt refreshed as a newly washed hearse. The father of the bride appeared to be confused as he approached me in hopes of giving away his daughter. I assured him that good things can happen to bad people, although he pointed out that just because it’s true, it doesn’t mean it’s a fact. I noticed that Lilly’s corsage had a natural smoked scent. Her eyes glistened like Susan B. Anthony coins. Meanwhile, the justice of the peace un-holstered his side arm so that everyone could relax until the yelling was over. We briefly exchanged vows which were charming and earthy as a bowl of granola. I kissed the bride and she reciprocated – yes, partly out of revenge, but also out of genuine hunger – and we proceeded with stately solemnity, fingers crossed and eyes closed, toward a future that promised us no less than the benefit of the doubt. I can’t remember which day this was – maybe a Thursday, maybe a Sunday, but I can tell you it was magic. Even the baby alligators smiled.


Today is fever bright, no wind. Justine says I should slow down, but I speed up. I like to get to things before they get to me. She’s been searching for her birthmother. It’s taken her about two years to get this far. I tell her she probably won’t recognize her. She laughs and says, Curtis, not every day has to be a maybe. Everybody wants something real. When we get to Vegas, she opens her purse and pulls out a birth certificate. It’s a single page, and on the back, it has tiny ink footprints and a large thumbprint. The motel is pink and white, and our room is cold as a skating rink. I sit on the end of one of the twin beds, drinking a Cherry Coke. Outside, it’s 102 in the shade. The pool is filled with screaming kids. You can hear them having fun, or something like it. I remind Justine there are more plastic flamingos in the world than real ones.

About the Author

Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles and lives in Boston. He is the author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015) His two new books of poems, Momentary Turbulence and WordinEdgeWise, are forthcoming 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. Three times nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and once nominated for Best of the Net Anthology, Brad’s poetry and micro fiction have appeared in, The American Journal of Poetry, The Los Angeles Times, Folio, decomP, Lunch Ticket, The Baltimore Review, Posit, Off the Coast, Clockhouse, and other publications.

Brad’s website is:

Copyright © 2020 Brad Rose

Cover photograph from the collection of Lauren Leja

ISBN 978-1-949279-23-8

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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