Mr. Bradshaw is a programmer living in Redwood City, Ca. Recent and forthcoming publications include Stirring, The Green Tricycle, Poetic Voices, Blue Fifth Review, Slow Trains, Wolf Moon Press and The Sidewalk's End. He is a big fan of the Rolling Stones, although you wouldn't know it from the moss gathering on him.

Whistler In His Old Age

He never lost his hatred for critics.
Old, he wore his monocle
when seated across from one.
He would study him like a jeweler
through his lens,
then ignore him
as if he were an imitation.

But dinner invitations were fewer.

Disciples, too, were fewer.
He wanted followers
with uneasy stomachs.
But he would bully them
for having the original brushwork
of apprentice housepainters.

Alone, and with a bum heart,
he moved in with his sister-in-law.
She knew nothing.
And no one dropped by to argue.
Each day was dull.
He felt, he said, like a great lawyer
cross-examining a mirror.

Work was all he had inherited
from his youth. The few awards
he now received were pocket change
against the debt of bitterness

long accrued.

My Father Lay Dying

My father lay on a hospital bed,
his eyes like shuttered windows.
His body was awash in morphine.
We had gathered to comfort him
in his last days. But I was buttressed
by knowing that my old man
had made comebacks. Hadn't he survived
a half dozen heart attacks?
Hadn't he survived his ship
folding under him, torpedoed?
There would be time to talk.
My mother brushed my father's hair
as gently as if stroking a cat.
We looked up at the TV screen.
"Life And Death On The Great Barrier Reef"
was showing. We watched herds
of parrot fish nibbling at coral.
Bright streamers of fish
glided off like long yellow scarves.
Sunken ships rose into view
like empty jewelry cases
displayed in a dimly lit room.
I glanced back at my father.
My mother, stroking his hair, also
looked down. My father
was no longer lost in daydreams
of morphine. My father's jaw
hung open, like a cracked
oyster. He had been emptied
like a picked pocket.
He had slipped