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Brendan Constantine was born in Los Angeles and raised in a household where poetry was a tradition. Over the years his work has appeared in numerous journals most notably Artlife, The Cider Press Review, Directions, StellaZine and The Underground Guide To Los Angeles, which spent nine weeks on the Los Angeles Times Best Seller list. Last year a portion from his 1999 Pushcart nominated collection Dante¹s Casino was selected as essential reading as part of Antioch University¹s MFA in Poetry curriculum. Other books include: Antenna (1997 Past Modern Press), Return to IKNOWEXACTLYWHATYOUMEANSVILLE (1998 Inevitable Press), and One Matador (2000 Inevitable Press). Last August his poem 'Story" was selected for Honorable Mention by the judges of Ireland's prestigious Davoren Hanna Award. A forthcoming collection entitled Hyenas 57 was a finalist in the National Poetry Series. In addition to teaching a popular adult poets workshop, Brendan is currently Poet In Residence at Downtown Business Magnet High School. He lives in Hollywood with his cat Maggie.

Last Night I Went To the Map of the World
and I Have Messages for You

America says it has misplaced your number.
I wasn't comfortable giving it out. I said
I'd let you know.

Africa's Birthday is this weekend.
There's a party. No gifts.
Just come.

If you're planning to go, Greece wants 
to know if it can get a lift. Awkwardly
so does Turkey.

Russia wanted me to say The worm knows
the cabbage but the worm dies first.
I have no idea what that means. Do you?

Japan looked really uncomfortable all night
but never spoke. Is something going on?

Ireland asked to be remembered.
I sang to it for you.

I didn't get to connect with Europe
but, as the French say, Isn't that just
too bad.

Is that everyone? Oh yes, the oceans.
They asked what they always ask
and I promised I'd repeat it,
Why do you never call?
When are you coming home?


The oceans were hot 
and spat toothy fish into the air 
like olive pits. Mountains
drooled florescent paint, 
valleys filled with loose change 
and lost sunglasses. In the jungles 
great lizards walked on two feet, 
carried flasks of warm lava,
and lied and lied and lied. 
Cats with knives for teeth 
stalked each other under skies
crowded with sharp birds calling 
"Oh, baby!" The trees wore
bad tattoos and dropped handbags 
full of money on the ground. 
At night nothing walked, 
the moon hissed at the ocean, 
and the stars held each other 
at gunpoint. 


- Bodrum Turkey, May 2001 

Listen, I want to tell you something ordinary; 
the sun was setting when I started out, his house 
was on the other side of the pasture, cows 
like ships were tugging the field toward night 
while the quick head of a rooster nodded red 
among daisies. In Turkish the daisy is papatya. 
A star is yildiz. Many stars are yildizlar. 
There were thirteen in the palm of the sky, 
evening's first bid. I held out and kept walking. 

I was visiting a man who believed in the stories 
of stories, that no truth could be fully told 
without telling of the day it was learned. 
"I am going to teach you something to prove 
you were here" he said and showed me 
to the kitchen. It was a monk's kitchen, a place 
where only one thing is done and quietly. 
In the cupboard were two plates, in the drawer 
two settings. 

He set a narrow pot on the stove, measuring 
into it a cup of water and two spoons 
of coffee the color of earth, kahvesi. 
Lighting the burner he told me to stir gently 
without pausing or slowing down. Like calling 
something old from a cave; you don't stop 
before it enters the light or it turns back. 

The work was hypnotic, the details of the room 
seeming to soften in their peripheral orbits. 
Dimly I heard him ask if I could see foam yet. 
I could, though I saw it as something else; 
I was spinning a planet now, a black 
planet with black oceans toiling as muddy 
continents whirled from their depths. 
Together we watched as islands converged 
and hove upward. "Now" he said, cutting 
the flame, as though putting out the sun. 

Two cups, finjan, waited on a table. He 
sat while I carried the pot. And this 
is when I learned what I need to tell; 
as I poured, little bubbles like wooden 
beads boiled up and clung to the edges 
of each cup. The man leaned forward 
and with his finger poked them out 
one at a time. "The old women" he said 
"believe the bubbles are eyes. We must 
never let them see this world". 


Before I wrote poems I meddled. 
As a boy I would dress the dog 
in my clothes and get my parents 
to fight over who I resembled. 
I told my brothers there was 
no gravity and watched them flail 
their short arms as they bounced 
around the ceiling. Once I tore 
a page from the kitchen calendar 
and nothing happened for a month, 
though I don't really remember it. 
What turned me around was a night 
in my eighteenth summer spent 
watching old movies. I was tuning 
our black & white when I touched 
the glass and found it soft and wet. 
Fitting my fingers into the frame 
it came away in my hands like yolk. 
The people in the film stopped 
talking and looked around, startled. 
I got ready for them to be angry
but instead they just stood there; 
the man scratching his forehead 
with the sight of his empty gun, 
the woman smoothing her skirts, 
unable to face me, my terrible colors. 

© 2004 Brendan Constantine

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