How Esmerelda Estrus Got Her Revenge by J. Bradley

A5, 28 pages, September 2011, €5
ISBN 979-10-90394-09-4

What do the words ‘epic poem’ conjure up for you? Thoughts of gods, myths and battles – Beowulf, Homer, Dante and Milton perhaps? Maybe you think of Pound, Carlos Williams and Walcott, each of whom adapted and modernised the epic form. Most people probably don’t think of sex, vernacular language and frequent references to popular culture, all of which J. Bradley’s How Esmeralda Estrus Got Her Revenge has in abundance.

Overall, it’s a seething, dark romp of a poem. Accessible and fun, truthful and surprising, Bradley’s pamphlet hooked me from the start. I’m particularly reminded of Jane Holland’s Boudicca & Co. There are also similarities to some of Neil Rollinson’s work, perhaps with a side order of Eliot. This is a captivating poem for the 21st century. Anyone with an interest in contemporary, intelligent narrative poetry should buy this book.
Read Lindsay Holland’s full review in Sabotage Reviews.

Canto I - Whereas He Wants To Tap That Ass

In the club, lapping at rum and Coke
like a wolf cub on its mother’s teat,
I see an ass that makes hands clutch
at the thought of grabbing a cheek.
On the dance floor, she twitches.
Oh no, Ian, it is not love that tears
apart my inseam. I step off the stool,
swagger to the dance floor and do
the I-only-want-to-do-you-in-the-face
dance so she’s not so scared of me.

Canto XI - At The Club

When “Love Will Tear Us Apart” plays, I yell
“That’s my motherfucking jam” but I don’t shake
my ass like a lure. I let the sadness move
my limbs, move like a funeral procession
instead of a red light district. A real man
will try to step up and talk if he wants to,
push past the sadness and get to know
why I like this song. I see a young gentleman,
dressed in the finest Express outfit credit
can buy. Will he try to pry open my thighs
or my mind?