Monday, April 19, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Brendan Constantine

Today's poem in the Tattooed Poets Project comes to us from Brendan Constantine:

The Man In the Next Bed

The man in the next bed has
a habit of silver; he darkens
when he’s not under hand.
He blames the road atlas

for bringing him here, for
counting the miles in gold.
The man in the next bed is
cast out of bronze. The man

next to him out of wax. Hold
him too long, he’ll furrow
and tantrum all night like
a candle. The man next to him

talks to his pillow. He blames it
for his dreams; his falling
& his crawling dreams. Why
did you show me tigers? Why

were my legs full of mud ?
The man next to him has
an answer, he listens to the roof
for angels. It’s raining

bishops & bastards, he yells
& hides his medicine cup
in the sheets. The orderlies
know better than to take it;

he’d only steal another
from the man in the next bed.
That man is the president
of Monaco, it says so

on his pectoral tattoo: I am
the president of Monaco.
In case of emergency, call
a jeweler. In the bed next to him

there’s a man who breaks
his fingers as a calling. God
tells him which to snap
or save. He leaves himself

one to point with, to accuse
the man in the next bed; the man
who built the hospital, who
doesn’t remember building it,

whose heart plays the machine
beside him, whose eyes stay
open, vacant as the next bed
& the next bed over.

This poem originally appeared in the journal, Chaparral, 2009

Please be sure to head over to Tattoosday to see one of Brendan's tattoos here.

Brendan Constantine is a poet based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in numerous journals, notably Ploughshares, Ninth Letter,The Cortland Review & RUNES. His book, Letters To Guns, was released in 2009 from Red Hen Press. He is currently poet in residence at The Windward School and Loyola Marymount University Extension.

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