November 11-17, 2002: Brendan Constantine

week of November 11-17, 2002

Brendan Constantine

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Brendan Constantine

Bio (auto)

Brendan Constantine was born and raised in Los Angeles in a household where the works of Shakspeare and Gerard Manly Hokins were read as bedtime stories  His poetry has appeared in numerous journals most notably Artlife, The Cider Press Review, Directions, StellaZine and the L.A Times best seller The Underground Guide To Los Angeles Most recently a portion from his 1999 collection Dante’s Casino was selected as essential reading as part of Antioch University’s MFA in Poetry curriculum  for 2002/03 Other books of poetry include Antenna (1997 Past Modern Press), Return to IKNOWEXACTLY WHATYOUMEANSVILLE  (1998 Inevitable Press), and One Matador (2000 Inevitable Press)  Mr Constantine is currently poet in residence at Venice High School and last year was made a fellow at Idyllwild’s College of the Arts Two new collections of poetry Hyenas 54 and Zombie Dovecote are due out within the next year In February of 2002 Mr Constantine was nominated to the California Governor’s office as a candidate for Poet Laureate of the State of California He lives in Hollywood with his cat Maggie .

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Brendan Constantine and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Missing

As far as I can tell, they’ve stopped
putting the faces of lost children
on milk cartons The brand I buy
used to devote a whole panel
to them with the words
Have you seen these children?
Ha visto usted estos niños?

in the same red ink as the image
of the smiling cow on the label I want to ask her if she’s found them
but of course, she hasn’t Still, it is
pleasing to imagine this, if only
for a moment; the children,
thousands of them, standing
in a red field beneath a red sun
holding hands or stroking
her glossy coat
The cigarettes I smoke are packaged
with a single trading card depicting
an endangered animal: the Mandrill,
the Ocelot, the Green Sea Turtle;
each of them realized in full color I’ve been saving them, a pack
at a time, in a small tin box shaped
like a car  It’s all I can do Today
I found a Black Footed Ferret, perched
on a snowy slope in Wyoming It looks back at me now from
the top of the deck, its masked
head tilted slightly, searching
for the photographer whose scent
has stopped its hunting.

I find a lost book entitled
Better X-Ray Interpretation

and wonder if it belonged to a doctor who read
poetry I imagine breaking my leg and listening
to the richly accented voice of a French surgeon
as he holds opaque photographs to his lamp
and interprets the radio shadows into flesh
and bone Mine
On his desk I notice a copy of Gray’s Anatomy,
Dobkin’s Principals of Figure Drawing, some
Rodin studies, and this book He explains
how a rupture of the anterior crucitae ligament
and bucking of the posterior cruciate resulted
in extreme avulsion during dislocation “Note,
Monsieur ”, he says with a confiding laugh,
“the hemorrhagic knee effusion Magnifique!”

I nod but ask if he can explain it better He
adjusts his paper beret and points “Certainement Do you see this little bone here? It is the hand
of a girl from my village She is holding a bird
she has found in the grass The poor creature
is dead, perhaps from a cat She holds it
very tightly and weeps, as if this will make
its heart beat again As if it might sing.”

The Two Blind Men
at the Jacob Epstein Exhibit

made a lot of noise coming in
stayed close to the curator
walked through us like firemen
wore shirts half tucked
wore white gloves to touch the scultures
touched th sculptures
went straight for the middle each time:
Paul Robeson’s nose
Albert Einstein’s nose
the belly of a sleepwalking woman
the plexus of a warrior
the brief cleft between two mounting doves
the missing sex of an angel
worked their way out
laughed a lot
cried once
asked to come back tomorrow
said Thank You
ordered a taxi
made fun of the deaf going out

Monsieur Magritte, Your Things
If you are aware of this poem, René
then you know what’s happened
in your home; People, your wife
included, have made it a museum
I’ve been there In fact, I am
there now You painted a train
coming out of the fireplace I am looking at the train-some

wood stove that made you
do it You painted a bedroom
for a giant comb and shaving
brush I am looking at them both,

small on a glass shelf If you
are aware of this poem then
you know what’s not for dinner;
I am looking at cans of soup,

a bouillon cube, a bar of soap,
and your razor, dull now
from missing you People,
your wife included, have arranged

your things with white cards
next to them Your razor’s birthday
is writ there, approximately If you
are in this poem then I am aware

of your face covered with foam The room is wet You are
shaving away the potential beard
and leaving a code of footprints

to the window All along Rue
Esseghem, the unpainted crickets
open their wings to cut the noise
of this world from their feet.

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