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Brendan Constantine

The Local Glow

The neighbors have put medical masks

over every flower in their front yard.

And they’ve wrapped the plum tree

in a silver blanket, like astronauts use.

The front door wears a red wreath,

I forget what that means. A new baby? 

A blooming death? When the mailman 

came yesterday, they scared him away 

by waving a picture of their dog.

Tonight, the house is dark, except 

for one green window. Every now

and then someone crosses it, like 

a slow camera, like a subway 

at the bottom of the sea.

I’ve watched since the sun fell down

and no one’s come or gone. I can

just make out the wreath, a frozen

hoop of flame. Two of the flowers are 

dead, fallen forward on their masks.

The rest are watching me. I want to 

go over and ask if anyone needs help.

Do they need blood or decorations? 

But I’m afraid of the dog. I’m afraid 

I might catch the light.

The Spaceship and After

It landed in the sorghum, after midnight or so,

with a sound like the whole town was balling up

a love letter it couldn’t write.

I didn’t want to go, but you made me. I mean

the thought of you made me dress and find 

a flashlight. There was a glow

about mid-field, green or was it pink—strange

how those colors trade places in the eye—

and all the while I walked 

I was thinking, Are you awake? Do you know 

you’re making me do this? Pulling through

the stalks always feels like climbing stairs.

What would I do when I got there?

I knew what I hoped to find, a person from

another world who could better explain this one.

Stairs that collapse as I go. 

But it was luckier than that. There was a boat,

just big enough for two people and it had

definitely fallen from the sky because 

the bottom was burnt and smoking. The pilots

were still in their seats, looking a little stunned

perhaps. I couldn’t make out faces, 

if they had them. It was the way they held the oars, 

as if wondering how to row through soil. 

Welcome, I said, What’s mine is yours. 

Neither spoke, but one raised its paddle, as if 

to wave. I left them and walked to your house.

Everyone likes to hear Yes.

Brendan Constantine's work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Tin House, Poem-A-Day, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Daily, Ploughshares, and many other journals. His most recent collections are Dementia, My Darling (2016) from Red Hen Press and Bouncy Bounce (2018), a chapbook from Blue Horse Press. He has received support and commissions from MOCA, the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches creative writing at the Windward School. Since 2017 he has been developing poetry workshops for people with aphasia.

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