• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
readings & workshops
February 22

Poetry Reading: Max Garland

readings & workshops
February 23

Poetry Reading: Anna Vitale & Roberto Harrison

readings & workshops
February 24

RESCHEDULED: Genre: Urban Arts No. 3 Release

readings & workshops
March 1

Wisconsin Reads The Round House

film & video
March 2

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
March 7

Poetry Reading: Kwabena Antoine Nixon

readings & workshops
March 8

Poetry Reading: Ed Block & Jenny Benjamin

readings & workshops
March 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Suman Chhabra

March 15

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
March 17

Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body with Nikki Wallschlaeger, Jose-Luis Moctezuma & Jay Besemer

readings & workshops
March 22

Community Conversation About The Round House 

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Sherwin Bitsui & Bojan Lewis 

film & video
April 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
April 11

Poetry Reading: Luci Tapahonso

readings & workshops
April 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Lo Kwa Mei-en

readings & workshops
April 17

Poetry Reading and Conversation with Roberto Harrison @ Brown Deer Public Library

April 19

Alash Ensemble

April 21

Woman: Frailty Thy Name, works by Renee Baker

April 22

ACL presents Renee Baker Quartet, Visual Dark Scratch Suite

readings & workshops
May 2

Poetry Reading: Layli Long Soldier

May 13

Alternating Currents Live presents The Bridge

readings & workshops
May 16

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series Noel Pabillo Mariano

May 17

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
May 24

Poetry Reading: Urban Echo Poets

John Bradley

John Bradley is the author of Terrestrial Music(Curbstone Press), War on Words (BlazeVox), and You Don't Know What You Don't Know (CSU Poetry Center). He's edited Atomic Ghost: Poets Respond to the Nuclear Age (Coffee House Press), and Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath (The Backwaters Press). His play, Ahmerica, will be produced by The Third Onion this year in DeKalb, Illinois. He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Art Fellowships and a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at Northern Illinois University.

"The ceaseless accumulation of things, places, people, events, dreams, and fears give rise to the unique space in which Bradley's poems exist."
-Abby Travis, Rain Taxi

Selected Poems

Confessions of a Ladder Rider

John Bradley


I'm riding my ladder down the street, one of those fast lightweight folding

ladders, standing on it a few steps from the bottom, wearing my white riding

helmet. She's crossing the street, her blouse aswirl with STOP and YIELD and

RAILROAD CROSSING signs. When she sees me coming at her, she freezes.

In order to avoid hitting her, I swerve to the left, assuming she'll continue

across the street. But she doesn't. The ladder catches her with the center of

the wooden X right on her chin, and she flops down on her back like a sack of

wilted celery. I let out, just for a second, a nervous laugh. I knew she wasn't

hurt, and the sight of her going down like that tickled me, the way silent film

turns fall into farce. I immediately try to apologize, but my muffled giggling

only makes things worse. There had been a rash of hit and run ladder riders

knocking down pedestrians, and she must have thought I was one of them. I

would have felt the same way if I were her. I rip off my helmet; she faints.

Did she see the mark of the folding ladder on my forehead? Had she eaten

celery for lunch? Why wasn't she wearing her pedestrian body armor? O,

Buster Keaton, why did you ever have to invent the motorized ladder? I

fasten my helmet strap, climb back aboard my vehicle, and fade into the flow

of traffic, just another outlaw ladder rider. 

Parable of the Indeterminate Cave

I'm living in a sealed cave with Madonna. At least she tells me her name is

Madonna, but I'm not so sure. She never wants to have sex, though I've tried

many times to subtly suggest it. I'll tell her that an oak chair was left out in

the rain, and she'll say that wet wooden chairs make her depressed. I'll say

that a glazed doughnut is rolling down a hill, and she'll say that doughnuts

make her feel fat. I'll say that a child is sleeping with his head on the

stretched skin of a drum, and she'll tell me that drum skins make her

perspire. There is one thing Madonna does like, though. She likes it when I

read to her. Sometimes I read her knuckles to her, though I usually read her

toes. I'll read until I start to get bored, and then I'll change a word in the

story. I'll say, "Father stroked his seersucker mustache," and she'll yell at

me. "That's not right," she'll say. "Father stroked his cerise mustache!"