Brendan Constantine
        Brendan Constantine was born in LA and has been active in the poetry scene here for many years. Recently he received his MFA from Vermont College, and he continues to live at Bela Lugosi’s place.
        Most of us shine like fifty-watt bulbs or seventy-five-watt bulbs. Brendan Constantine shines like a five-hundred watt bulb. That, perhaps, explains why thirteen hundred people have checked out his video on YouTube—now that’s a lot, for a poet, for someone who’s “only” doing spoken word, someone who’s not singing or playing an instrument or telling jokes.
        Brendan Constantine’s is not—determinedly not—a confessional poetry of nervous breakdowns. He chooses not to expose himself; he will not lie on the psychoanalyst’s couch.  His work is like some odd artifact we might find in the Museum of Jurassic Technology blended with the mind of Albert Goldbarth.  Who else but Brendan Constantine would think of writing letters to guns? And it’s not people who are writing these letters:  it’s inanimate objects.  For example, “Letter Three” is addressed to a .69 cal Charleville Musket from a wooden spoon; “Letter One” is written to an 1830 Henry Yellowboy 45 from a standard issue army boot. And as playful and light-hearted as many of these poems appear on the surface, there is an underlying serious intent that comes across much more subtly than Bowling for Columbine.
        As I read his new book—Letters to Guns—I was struck by how well these poems work on the page; read by own neutral inner voice I could enjoy them just as much as I do when I hear him read out loud.  He has succeeded in creating a world, and though the “confessional” I is absent, every single poem he composes bears his stamp, is imbued with his personality, his “I,” even when his point of departure is Mary Todd Lincoln or Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein or Ferdinand Magellan.  Brendan’s is a strange, unpredictable world of words that steers clear of the all that easy capital P poetry:  he avoids the moon, the word “luminous,”  the lilacs and the peonies.  He would rather tell us about the gift shop at the morgue.  Brendan is an original.


Meddling

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 screen 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.


 


2009 Brendan Constantine
Brendan Constantine was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the September 2009 Second Sunday Poetry Series.