Part 5 Contributors


Millicent Borges Accardi
Kim Addonizio
Marjorie R. Becker
Jacqueline Berger
John Brandi
James Cagney
Carol Moldaw
Kosrof Chantikian
Brendan Constantine
James Cushing
Kim Dower
David Garyan
Valentina Gnup
Troy Jollimore
Judy Juanita
Paul Lieber
Rick Lupert
Glenna Luschei
Sarah Maclay
Jim Natal
Judy Pacht
Connie Post
Jeremy Radin
Luis J. Rodriguez
Gary Soto
Cole Swensen
Arthur Sze
Charles Upton
Scott Wannberg (In Memoriam)

Part 1 Contributors

Rae Armantrout
Bart Edelman
David Garyan
Suzanne Lummis
Glenna Luschei
Bill Mohr
D. A. Powell
Amy Uyematsu
Paul Vangelisti
Charles Harper Webb
Bruce Willard
Gail Wronsky

Part 2 Contributors

Elena Karina Byrne
liz gonzález
Grant Hier
Lois P. Jones
Ron Koertge
Glenna Luschei
Rooja Mohassessy
Susan Rogers
Patty Seyburn
Maw Shein Win
Kim Shuck
Lynne Thompson
Carine Topal
Cecilia Woloch

Part 3 Contributors

Michelle Bitting
Laurel Ann Bogen
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Lucille Lang Day
Corrinne Clegg Hales
Marsha De La O
Charles Jensen
Eloise Klein Healy
Glenna Luschei
Clint Margrave
Henry Morro
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Phil Taggart
David L. Ulin
Jonathan Yungkans
Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis

Part 4 Contributors

Tony Barnstone
Willis Barnstone
Ellen Bass
Christopher Buckley
Neeli Cherkovski
Boris Dralyuk
Alicia Elkort
Mary Fitzpatrick
Michael C. Ford
Kate Gale
Frank X. Gaspar
Dana Gioia
Shotsie Gorman
S.A. Griffin
Donna Hilbert
Brenda Hillman
Glenna Luschei
Phoebe MacAdams
devorah major
Clive Matson
K. Silem Mohammad
Rusty Morrison
Harry Northup
Holly Prado Northup - In Memoriam
Cathie Sandstrom
Shelley Scott - In Memoriam
Daniel Shapiro
Mike Sonksen
Pam Ward
Sholeh Wolpe
Gary Young
Mariano Zaro

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Click to enlarge picture Brendan Constantine
Brendan Constantine
Photo Credit: Jun Takahashi, 2020
Californian Poets Part 5: Five Poems
Brendan Constantine




You're on an elevator with God and afraid
to ask which floor They want – for surely
God's pronoun is They - because deep down
you know God is already on every floor and
how long is this going to take? God says,

I never get tired of The Girl from Ipanema.

You smile and agree, though only now
do you notice the music. You start pushing
buttons in no sequence, feel the earth fall
away. Is this what it’s like to be a prayer,
or rather, what it’s like when one arrives?

... like a samba that swings so cool
and sways so gentle …

You remember something you read about
the first elevators, how they were powered
by animals and, later, water. And children,
They say, don’t forget children.

At every stop God gets on again, but you
don’t notice, you’re too into the song now.
Surely joy and apprehension shall follow you
all of your days.

Never Have I Ever
          1 point for each

Faked a cataclysm

Cheered for a mountain

Got dressed up for an animal

Followed a sleepwalker outside

Forgiven a compliment

Seen the oxen doze in their red yoke

Judged a funeral

Recognized bric-a-brac

Stopped thinking about a particular cloud in 1975

Made out with a statue

Heard back from Jeremy

Misplaced a chariot

Shown you the door

Drank from cupped feet

Watched my own birth video on continuous replay

Flooded the airwaves

Reappeared downstream

Wanted a different word for Zebra

Curled at the edges

Sparkled like a cave

This poem first appeared in the Red Eft Review, Summer 2021

Where Do You Get Your Ideas

There's a little shop
at the end of each sentence
where I buy the next one.

In a glossy catalogue
delivered every month
from evil.

My ideas come from a cave
my father found in my mother.
It was warm, he said, a fire
already going. On the walls
were paintings of more mothers.

From fire, the word itself, from
everything that could burn us
in the moment of saying it.

Ask me again. Now ask me why
I asked you to ask me.

Really, they just barge in
whenever they feel like it.
I haven't finished a dream
in days.

The first ones came by ship.
Stowaways, they nearly starved.
Then someone found a sack
of almonds and everyone
lived. When they reached port,
they could see in the dark.

From chumps who aren't using them.

From a vending machine
outside the crime museum.

From you. Right now,
you're giving me ideas.
One of them is worth millions.
Another is a small harp
playing in your coat. Still

another is a balcony view
of the parade. There were
supposed to be dancers
in flaming hats. You will
have to imagine them.

From knowing when to stop.
It was a few stanzas ago.

At night, I form a church
with my hands. Inside are
the faces of people I’ve hurt.
If I want to sleep, I must
look each one in the eye.
I don't make the rules.

This poem first appeared in the Journal ‘Tin House,’ March 2019


A book just told me that ‘bird’ used to be ‘bridd.’
At some point in the 16th century, a sleepy monk
copied it wrong and here we are, unable to hear
the bridds, even with the windows open.

That’s how it feels, anyway, like the whole creature
is gone. Maybe it’s only a loss in the life of poetry.
I mean, a poet is, above all, cursed with knowing
there’s no such thing as a synonym.

House and home?       Nope.
Bloom and flower?      Not even close.
Love and devotion?     Don’t get me started.

When my mother got pregnant, there was no way
to tell the sex of a fetus. Back then, the doctor checked
your heartbeat and guessed. For me he got it wrong
and said, “Girl.”

Mom says she knew better, could feel a boy,
but she played along and kept a girl’s name handy:
Nora. I don’t know when she told me, but I was still
young, young enough to be astonished

my parents had ever lived without me. In my mind,
I could see Nora, my age, my size, but a different face,
one unlike my parents. Somewhere, in a world
aslant from this one —

one which I saw as always just above my head
and a little to the right—Nora sat on a set of swings,
swaying lazily, making patterns in sand with her shoe.
She wore a dress with ruffles, she wore boredom,

sadness. She heard everything I said and could say it
better. I’m not sure where I lost track of her, maybe
puberty. It wasn’t until I read about the bridds
that I glimpsed her again.

They’ve taken the swings down. The park has been
updated. Nora has a wheelchair because she hardly
used her legs. I don’t know who gave her the sweater,
who helps her into it or brings her here,

to watch the other wrong children play in half-light,
in the long-lost music of the trees.

Sometimes the Stork Eats the Baby

It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think,
once you start to think about it. That is,
the stork is typically patient with
a human infant, even an unpleasant one,
so it’s rarely a question of rapport. And
babies don’t go down that easy, not
like fish or money. But sometimes.

Sometimes the sea is wide. Sometimes
a powerline will look like it needs
your signature above it. Then the stork
may pause in its flight, might harbor
a doubt. Even then, they’re pretty
forgiving, of themselves and the sun.
They usually go on. But sometimes.

Sometimes there’s too much night, or not
enough jungle. Sometimes there’s only
you. Then you might do anything to
get back a little innocence, a little
What Happens Now. And sometimes.
The baby is sleeping. The baby is awake.
The baby holds your toe with its whole hand.

In darkness, the stork folds the blanket,
leaves it on a beach — leaves the blood
if any, on its beak — and flies back
to get another baby. It’s not sinister,
it’s not what you’re thinking. The next
baby makes it home. The stork, renewed
in its purpose, seldom eats another.