Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

The Body in Jest


I never learned to laugh
at myself in public. My
body is the perpetual rim
shot. I was born God’s
running joke—a split
yolk in the womb.  




What was meant to be
a girl—an inconceivable
child unmade in his image.
Born again—the sprouts of hair
on my chin that slowly form
into beard, my full breasts—
the alchemy of my body birthed
in a sin I did not commit.




A car slows & in an
instant I am pummeled
with sticks and stones.
I unsheathe my middle
finger craving it a switch-
blade. My fuck you, bitch!
the closest I come to
carving into another body.




I want the last laugh
unmade in my image.
I want the yolk of the man
that made a comedy out
of my & my mother’s bodies.
I want his error corrected
by God until he is a running
joke born again in blood—
the scarlet tent of a public
chuckle turned a private whimper.

Jari Bradley is a poet and scholar from San Francisco, California currently working on their masters degree in Ethnic Studies with an emphasis in both Africana and Sexuality studies at San Francisco State University. Their work focuses on similar themes. Jari is a 2015 Callaloo fellow and has most recently participated in the Interdisciplinary Writers Lab: For Emerging Writers of Color. Their work has been published in Callaloo and Nomadic Ground Press.