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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Tom Bradley

They "pen" prose-poems about their paltry acts of adultery and pass them around the department to be discussed, one at a time, one per semester. They pick their own and each other's droppings apart, word by word, at literary pot parties, then submit them to the quarterlies and "learned journals" in xerox form, lying about multiple submissions.

Guardians of the Language, Custodians of Our Authors' Immortality, they read exclusively DeLillo novels, and read them backwards because, "It takes a real writer to maintain the energy clear to the bitter end."

Professorial types, who misuse the word "litany" as often as most people swallow excess saliva, who only allow themselves to snicker epithets like "Brains and Eggs," "Aunt Jemimah," "jigaboo dyke," and "turd-colored sow" during the climactic stages of their all-night poker parties, to which, of course, Her Ladyship the Chair and her spies are never invited.

Professorial types, these guys, who, to prove once and for all their enduring hipness, read the peepee-poopoo limericks from Gravity's Rainbow out loud in class, and almost get fired because some homely, unpopular, smelly female in dungarees reports them to Her Ladyship for being sexist. But they can't be fired because they've earned tenure by publishing articles with titles like "Sam Spade as Knight Errant" in Prairie Schooner, and essays in the Kanorado Review of the Collective Humanities (KrotCH) with lots of misused quotation marks, analyzing the syntax of Mark Strand's poetry and parenthetically complimenting that tragically handsome poet for "abandoning sense." (Once you've refined your work to the point of "abandoning sense," you'll never again make a fool of yourself by "committing" to any recognizably foolish concepts in print.)

And when they get portraits of themselves printed in these rags, they drag you to their office, slap the thing backhanded and snicker, at the top of their lungs, "Man! That pic has gotten me more ass than any ten prose-poems!"

And they have children. They have bewildered, small, sexy children and frumped-out wives in yoga classes just across campus, and they don't care, these professorial types. And they always pester you to secure cocaine for them (or is it X?), but are delighted to pay top dollar for pure malt sugar or baby laxative, and come back next day pretending to be all fucked out: "Man, what wild shit that was!"

Yes, professorial types, failed writers by definition, bursting with impulses of flouted creativity, exhibitionism and pansexuality, who take pride in "turning each lecture into a work of art," who fling their bodies around the seminar room, making their voices go loud, then soft, trying to convince themselves that you are transfixed on the edge of your chair with the sheer drama of it all, instead of just embarrassed by the aging clown who grovels at your feet for a high student-evaluation score.

Professorial types, who make lesser MFA students than you want to commit suicide, or even stop writing, just by glancing over the top rims of their glasses, whose private receptions for literary headliners you attend uninvited with your sickest townie proletarian pals, just so you can drink everything in sight and vomit on their carpets, and piss all over the extra rolls of Charmin on the back of the john, and someday gouge out their eyes, slowly, one by one, in a Cultural Revolution.

'[Tom Bradley] holds a Ph.D. in English, and taught British and American literature to Chinese graduate students in the years leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre. He was politely invited to leave China after burning a batch of student essays about the democracy movement rather than surrendering them to "the leaders."...' ** These days he sticks to Japan, mostly.

**from www.tombradley.org