September 14, 2011

Dear Young Writers

(I bought a floppy drive for cheap and found a lot of old poems. Thank you for reminding me where I’ve come from and where I’m going.)

To whom it may concern,

We all start as emotards. I have the photo to prove it.

This is me hosting the Broken Speech Poetry Slam in 2002. Yes, I used to wear Hawaiian shirts. No, I wasn't getting laid. I figured out the balance.

You will write awful things and you will think they are good. You will write awful things and others will think you are good. You will write awful things and others will think you are bad and you will disagree with them but know in hindsight, they were write. You will write awful things and some will tell you that you are so bad, you should not write. Ever. And you should tell them to go fuck themselves.

This was my first ever workable slam poem. It was inspired by Big Poppa E’s “Wussy Boy Manifesto”. This is also the poem I used against Ernie Cline in 2001 and lost by a point. I have not edited this poem in any way (but I have provided audio of me reading it now):

nice guy manifesto




am a nice guy.

and when you’re under 30,

that isn’t a good thing.


i am tired of women telling me

a.) you’re a very nice guy

but you’re just not my type.


b) you are so sweet. i don’t want to ruin

the special friendship we have.


c) you’re not a ‘fuck me now’ guy.

you’re the relationship guy

and i’m not looking for commitment

right now.


if i had a dollar for every time i heard

a, b, and/or c,

i’d be driving the Mirth Mobile from Wayne’s World

by now.


i would think being a poet

would be enough to get me the girl of my dreams

but in this day and age you gotta have

the right car

the right clothes

the right taste in music

the right tolerance for beer

the right cologne

and you have to be


because there’s nothing unsexier about a man

who writes poetry, likes long walks at night,

gives foot massages, cooks romantic dinners,

and makes damn sure a woman has at least one orgasm

during foreplay.


am i bitter?

not yet

but i’m getting there.

don’t come cryin’ to me

when you’re frat boy


Dodge Ram drivin’

NASCAR watchin’

12 pack of Bud swillin’ boyfriend of yours

breaks your heart for the millionth, zillionth



i’ve got better things to do

than listen to you bitch

and whine

about how you played with fire

yet again

and got badly burned

yet again.


i’m not your dick in a jar

to be whipped out when you feel


go find some poor sucker

to be your emotional dartboard.


or better yet,

start dating nice guys

on a regular basis.

don’t wait till you’re over 30

and you’ve begun to collect

a menagerie of cats

to do so.


just don’t come near me,

you crazy bitch.


*Ahem* let’s look at some facts:

1. I am a good guy. Nice, well, depends who you are and what you’re into.

2. I like the last lap of a NASCAR race.

3. I am the dick in the jar. I should have that on a business card with a catchy slogan like “If you ever get tired of your vibrator, just break this glass and I’ll tap that ass.”

4. I have a cat and I’m over 30. With the new condo, I might get one more.

5. I am also a crazy bitch. I have references.

I’m getting too far off the point of this though. No one starts brilliant. You will fall on your face. You will bomb at open mics. You will cause break ups because your writing is so bad. You will learn how to say “fuck you” a lot. You will keep saying “fuck you”. And you will keep writing until you punch through the barrier of suck and you will keep writing.

In short, don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Keep everything you write so you can look back on it and laugh and wonder what the hell you were thinking.


J. Bradley

P.S.: My latest column is up at Specter Magazine, which you can read here.


Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this. Sometimes we all need a reminder of where we’ve been… and where we are going.

  2. wow that poem really does reveal how very crazy you really, really are.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at

Latest Posts By J. Bradley


self assessment, Writing


, , , ,