View Archives by:


Hagiography and Hanging

Timothy Bradford

My colleague checks himself in a crescent of broken
before class when he wants to look good

berating our inescapable Puritan
I don’t know how he broke

the mirror and believe in no
destiny. If
you study hagiography, you’ll see

miracles trump hard work. St. Anselm spoke
with the birds,
St. Jerome juggled flaming roses, no ash,

St. Theresa made it with G, bathed in
Of course, other towns converted whole-cloth

to sainthood just by the fungus on
the wheat
—ergot. Whole villages shared brain’s fire and shutter.

So what’s up with Salem? A tear in the sack-cloth
of too much
sense to let some dark light in—? and then,

nothing, just sales. Today, the city’s products include cables,
games, lamps, plastics, radio tubes, tannery and leather

products, and valves.
“Note: We didn’t burn them, we
hanged them.”
Nineteen persons to be exact. It seems easier on my mind

with fire, knife of flame on their shins, bellies, breasts.
The body
devoured, the myth of the phoenix. “You know what Cocteau

says?” my friend asks non-rhetorically. “Don’t look in
a mirror
to see yourself, look at your life.” Or our lies, I think. Like I

is not another, is different than we. Or belief in some sanctity
of fire
over a cold, gray rope, tight on a woman’s throat, choking

out herbal folk remedies, unpatentable
shadow language
grounded in the absolute symbolism of flowers

and roots, bowing to no god. Better we regarded, too,
our fragments,
instead of manufacturing new mirrors.

Better we understood our
of rope, fantasy of fire.

Timothy Bradford

Read Bio

Author Discusses Poems