Brendan Constantine


Brendan Constantine was born in Los Angeles, the second child of actors Michael Constantine and Julianna McCarthy. An ardent supporter of Southern California’s poetry communities and one of its most recognized poets, he has served as a teacher of poetry in local schools and colleges since 1995. His first collection, ‘Letters to Guns,’ was released in February 2009 from Red Hen Press to wide acclaim.  His work can be found in many of the nation’s standards, including Poetry, Tin House, Best American Poetry, Poem-a-Day, Virginia Quarterly, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Field, Chautauqua, and Poetry Daily. His most recent collections are ‘Dementia, My Darling’ (2016) from Red Hen Press and ‘Bouncy Bounce’ (2018), a chapbook from Blue Horse Press. Mr. Constantine has received support from the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Brendan has presented his work to audiences throughout the U.S. and Europe, also appearing on NPR’s All Things Considered, TED ED, numerous podcasts, and YouTube. He currently teaches creative writing at the Windward School.  In addition, he brings poetry workshops to veterans, hospitals, foster care centers, & shelters for the homeless. He is also very proud of his work with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. Since 2017, he has been working with speech pathologist Michael Biel to develop the first poetry workshop for people dealing with Aphasia. Source

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.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Mental Health

Poems of the Everyday

Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”