Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Final Issue 2018
Temporary Error: Instrument Destruction
John Bradley

           The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.
           —Pablo Picasso

: If you ask, he will show you the scar. While conducting An American in Paris, in 1974.
Leonard Slatkin’s baton rose. Sliced through a finger on his left hand. He yanked it out,
snapped the baton, and kept conducting. Later, in his dressing room, he told the hand: You
grasp, so tenderly, so much.

: Her manuscript. Learning to Live in One World. Margaret Mead, August, 1945, tossed it into
an ice bucket, sprayed it with lighter fluid, set it on fire. After Hiroshima, she said, every
sentence was out of date.

: Jeff Beck heard the voice in the buzz of his Vox amp. You will do as I say. Act like Pete
Townsend. Smash your fucking guitar.
1966. He stomped on the body as if it were a cancerous
cockroach. Tossing the broken neck into the crowd, he watched. They shuddered awake,

: Lazlo Toth, geologist, struck La Pietà, again and again, with a hammer. I am Jesus Christ! he
yelled. Damaging the Virgin Mary’s left eyelid, neck, head, veil, left forearm. When the arm
fell to the floor, fingers broke free. Filched by tourists. May 21, 1972.

: I destroyed the last of her journals, Ted Hughes wrote, because I did not want her children to
have to read it.
In his forward to The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. 1982. Disposed of,
allegedly, with battery acid.

: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. February 10, 1934. New York City. Rockefeller Center. Diego
Rivera’s mural. On the theme Man at the Crossroads. Rivera, told to remove his portrait of
Lenin, refused. Near midnight. Workers, using axes, demolished the mural in less than half an
hour. Rockefeller complained, There’s an empty decanter in my throat.

: Subdued turquoise, she recalls. The glass hand, with a hole in the center. For soil, a plant.
1979. Tossed, from the car, into a dumpster. Behind a strip mall. For bringing the family bad

: Some days his left ear looked too small. Others, too large. It would pout. Taunt. Tell him:
You should paint houses—sunflower gold. Van Gogh took a razor blade and sliced it off.
December 23, 1888. Left the ear in a bordello, where it belonged. He then went home, flopped
into bed. Bled.

: September 20, 1973. They said they were from the local mortuary. They took Gram Parsons’
body to Joshua Tree National Monument. Torched it. Because Gram had said, at the grave of
Clarence White, Don’t let this happen to me.

About John Bradley

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