The Works of Bruce Lader

Bruce Lader won the 2010 Left Coast Eisteddfod Poetry Competition and was interviewed by AmeriCymru ( He is the author of four published and two forthcoming books, Embrace (Big Table Publishing, 2010) and Landscapes of Longing (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2009). Discovering Mortality (March Street Press, 2005) was a finalist for the 2006 Brockman-Campbell Book Award. His poems have appeared in CircleShow, New York Quarterly, Poetry, Confrontation, New Millennium Writings, Harpur Palate, Fulcrum, and other publications. Learn more at

All Poems © Bruce Lader

Differences Between Suicide Bombers and Generals

adaptable clothing                               stiff funeral uniforms
blends in                                             blare TOP GUN

fast                                                     dine on heaps of steak tartare            

hypnotized automatons                        weigh pivotal deals with
                                                           presidents and drug lords

execute instant outcomes                     stealthy chess-game strategies           

                                                           drag on for decades                                             

deliberately target                                collateral accidents result in
townspeople                                        civilian casualties

long-term                                             ravish Death
love affairs with Death                          with flaming passion

serve God’s Will                                  defend separation                               
                                                           of Church and State 

stuck in dead-end positions                  escalating careers 

wear floral-scented water                     dab on a hint of Calvin Klein
to smell good in paradise                      Eternity Cologne

a battle cry                                           a battle cry
“Jihad is Holy”                                     “Avenge the Towers”

to become shaheed                              for honorable causes                         
sacrifice children                                  sacrifice children

Farewell to a Pair of Shoes

How will I walk without these twins
I keep mending, repeating are only shoes?
They’ve never let me down
or squealed a complaint
about the messes I’ve gotten into,
daily commuter treks, rocky wanderings,
never acknowledging way-to-go or good job, guys.

They’ve carried out their roles
so resiliently, put bounce back in exhausted steps,
balanced my modest wardrobe.
Though they look scraggly,
too scuffed for a thrift store tax write-off
or  homeless shelter drop,
what a heel I’d be to throw the couple out
after such a long agreeable marriage.

No, I will resole them like tires,
stitch the threadbare seams,
give them more tune-ups of oil and polish.
Should I store them
yin/yang, wrap them securely
inside a shoebox coffined in a closet,
the way mother preserved baby-shoes?

OK, I will cast them in bronze,
their actual tint, bookends sculpted
with steps light plays upon,
friends who couldn’t dance enough,
couldn’t say goodbye.

The Threat

took longer than a missile passing through an infinite
number of points to fight over the color of God.

A revelation to warmongers,
it sowed rumors in mine-fields of superstition,

paved the way for nuclear power plants on fault-lines,
promised to escalate into the ultimate secret.

The Department of Propaganda exploited it to coerce
unquestioned conformity.

It fast-tracked surveillance plans to map eyes and replicate
identities in the Bureau of Virtual Disappearances.

Cartels colluded commodity scams till it became
the only index of net worth.

It stole food from the starving, devoured children,
stacked their bones to commemorate military preparedness.

The threat was less terrifying than the thought
it might not exist.

Uninvited Lady Bugs

They skitter in as if every window
crevice hadn’t been weatherproofed,
dozens follow dozens like dotted
detectives searching the study
for clues in a convoluted plot.

My office is haunted by a chaotic
crowd of aphid-eaters who have trespassed
into this garden where I’m king,
they invade the perennial photos
on the walls, climb leaves and vines
of Venetian blinds.

A few besiege the flowering
bookcase and computer monitor,
mate like tiny turtles on the run
while others attack the printer,
scrawl cryptic comments over the ceiling
and occupy the light fixture,

couldn’t care less about
sidetracking my focal point,
hindering me from earning my keep.
Why don’t they hibernate
under tree-bark, look for cracks in rocks?

They secrete a sour odor, play possum
as I corral them in a container,
take them to the outside garden,
hoping they are messengers carrying wishes
that come true, ferry sound weather,
good fortune, peace.