Three Poems


Flaming O/ flame n’ go/ white/
now pink/ now drink little flies/
upside down from the brown
or milky stream/ bloodshot
umbrella/ swung awake/ half
flower/ half handle/ ugly
gift-shop candle/ wickless/
feckless/ fretless fiddle/
who would answer a call
like metal against metal/ now
ablush/ head on hip/ one foot
undipped in a shallow book
of rest/ abed abreast/ winged
& wounded pillow on a hook


We undress at the edge
of town, walk toward
               watch the panic
from the tree line. If we
thought ahead, we buried
water there and
a radio there, a couple
of old magazines to fold
into telescopes. We watch
as much as we can stand
until dark, the town a map
of flame. We turn into
the forest, leave the radio
talking to the magazines

                 find the river,
follow the river, chase
the river away.

The Legend Of Joe

Once there was a man who worked in a lab
because he couldn’t afford to keep pets
What the hell else was he gonna’ do

The virus loves us, the virus loves us not;
you might as well get paid to find out
Once there was a man who worked in a lab

but that was before the city was burned
to make room for orange groves
What the hell else were we gonna’ do

Once there was a mouse who tested average,
a mouse who preferred crosswords to mazes
Once there was a man who worked in a lab

because he didn’t work anywhere else
Every day the world turned away from him
What the hell else was it gonna’ do

The earth takes everyone personally
whether you hold your breath or sell it
Once there was a lab where no one worked
and the mice piled up like fruit 

—Brendan Constantine, Los Angeles, CA