“Red Sugar Blue Smoke” by Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine


My power animal is prehistoric, so far
undiscovered. I wait for its bones
to be found. I’m not hopeful;
it was drawn to bright lights
and may have stood directly under the meteor,
blue head cocked like a microphone. I have
twenty-eight teeth and can’t decide
if I’m a predator. I once killed a story
with tiny cuts, then buried it
under a tree. The guilt fed and sheltered me
for half a winter. My new landlady
is an astrologer/real-estate-agent who
refuses to say if my home can be trusted
with secrets. Her favorite nail polish is
a shade of dark red called ‘Girl Against
The Whole Damn World.’ I wonder
what color says, I left my drink
next to an identical one and now I can’t tell
which is mine? Tomorrow is a blue vein
in the back of your hand. This isn’t a figure
of speech but a fact of nature, like ink. Tomorrow is
also a powerful animal with undetermined markings.
Indeed it’s probably camouflaged somewhere
nearby. All we know for sure is it will be
eight letters long, the last resembling
a pair of fangs.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos


Brendan Constantine: “I have to say, I get a lot of inspiration from just going out and pretending I’ve never been to this planet before. It’s a great way to remember just how absurd, strange, beautiful, and unlikely everything is around you. If I can stay in that childish frame of mind, in that place of possibility where you watch somebody get into an elevator, the doors close, then open again and five people come out and it occurs to you “That’s where you go to become five people!” Or you cut your hair and more grows out and you cut your hair and more grows out and you deduce, “The human head must be packed with hair.” If I can practice daily astonishment, I find that I’m a little more pleasant, patient, and forgiving. You never know what you’re going to hear outside your window. Sometimes it brings a whole world with it.” Note: This quote is an excerpt from Constantine’s 20-page conversation in this issue. (website)

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