Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Brendan Constantine

There's a little shopat the end of each sentencewhere I buy the next one.In a glossy catalogdelivered every monthfrom evil.My ideas come from a cavemy father found in my mother.It was warm, he said, a firealready going. On the wallswere paintings of more mothers.From fire, the word itself fromeverything that could burn usin the moment of saying it.Ask me again. Now ask me whyI asked you to ask me.Really, they just barge inwhenever they feel like it.I haven't finished a dreamin days.The first ones came by ship.Stowaways, they nearly starved.Then someone found a sackof almonds and everyonelived. When they reached port,they could see in the dark.From chumps who aren't using them.From a vending machineoutside the crime museum.From you. Right now,you're giving me ideas.One of them is worth millions.Another is a small harpplaying in your coat. Stillanother is a balcony viewof the parade. There weresupposed to be dancersin flaming hats. You willhave to imagine them.From knowing when to stop.It was a few stanzas ago.At night, I form a churchwith my hands. Inside arethe faces of people I've hurt.If I want to sleep, I mustlook each one in the eye.I don't make the rules.

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Brendan Constantine is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Dementia, My Darling (Red Hen Press). His work has appeared in many of the nation’s poetry standards including Best American Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Poem-a-DayHe currently teaches at the Windward School in Los Angeles and, since 2017, has been developing poetry workshops for people with Aphasia.

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