Ryan Bradley has a way about him, and more than a Billy Joel song can describe. His poetry touches on the facets of family, creating a family, being a part of a family. In Aquarium, he’s managed to convey complex emotions in just a few short lines. Example, in his poem “Dinner with the Family,” he writes, “We sit, feral beats/ tearing apart the days,/ basking in unheard mutterings/ of mother and father/ whose breath is laced/ with the stink of disappointment./ We are artists, all of us,/ whipping into creation/ the silence of dementia/”
He maintains a contemporary feel to his writing, titling his pieces things such as “After Reading, I want to get Drunk” and “Have You had a Sex Dream about me?” but still harbors eloquent realism to his lines. In “Strippers Don’t Dance to the Beatles,” he writes, “Strippers don’t dance to the Beatles,/ they save their jar-faces and swollen hearts/ for the mirrors tucked in their purses,/ only letting loose the hidden purity/ of their public bodies for sleep, dreams/”
Aquarium, to me, is Bradley’s poetic introduction to the world, and I look forward to many more years of his releases. Check out his other chapbook titled “There Will Always Be a Better,” a group of poems that touch on the burdens of being unemployed in an economy like today’s.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Lavinia Ludlow for this review! Lavinia is the author of alt.punk, which, as I may have mentioned in an earlier post, has all the makings of an underground cult classic. Buy it!