Feature > Poetry
Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine teaches poetry at The Windward School in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Field, Zyzzyva, Hotel Amerika and other journals. His most recent books are Birthday Girl With Possum (Write Bloody Publishing, 2011) and Calamity Joe (Red Hen Press, 2012).

The Man Who Did the Honors

assured us our dreams felt no pain.
They're way beyond that, he said,
and anyway I use logic instead
of the usual drugs. We weren't
sure what the usual drugs were.
And wouldn't dope be kinder
than reason, we wanted to ask.
Of course, it was his house, his
rules; the food excellent, the wine,  
such nice things all around us.
We wanted to close our eyes,
to lose ourselves in the picture
we made. We tried. Nothing came.
You won't believe how well you sleep
tonight, he said, cleaning his spoon
with another spoon.

The Main Event

I have two friends left       who don't know
each other                Wonder if they should
meet at the funeral

Whenever my mother lost a boxing match,
she'd say                       she came in second

At her wake my father             & her lover
knew each other                 from art school

One painted the other nude       forty years
before         One made the other look good         
One made                                     the other

My friends make me      think about dying,
about fights breaking out       on my grave,
policemen,              crisp,             painterly,

pulling my family apart            like brushes
I want everybody to know         everybody

We should give coffins             at birthdays
We should leave the world        with ribbon

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