Brendan Constantine

A Controlled Substance
December 21, 2021 Constantine Brendan

A Controlled Substance


My brother is late again, somehow the glass
of water by his plate, the fact that we filled it
without him, makes him all the later. Dad
tells us to start eating, says there’s nothing
worse than cold fish, but suddenly no one
can find a rhythm, we fumble our napkins
like we’ve never seen them before, like it’s
just occurred to us we’re in the wrong house,
aren’t even a family but four people kicked
off the same bus for being vulgar. So much
is worse than cold fish, I think, the flowers
on the table, the bubbles in my brother’s glass,
the size of our knives all terrible. “There must
be traffic,” my mother says and I understand it
as a command. Yes, there must be. My brother
deserves a good reason. Not the only reason,
that he is deep in his bed, as if at the ocean floor
where it is still the first night on earth and
whatever moves there must grow its own light.

Brendan Constantine‘s work has appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, Tin House, Poem-A-Day, 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, the 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 and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).