And now unto my calling …

“And now unto my calling … ”
by Brendan Constantine

My local doctor has never had a live patient.
I’m not ready, he says, but soon. One time
he went through my entire medicine chest
& looked at everything for hours; held each
bottle to his eyes, squinting. I’m studying
medicine, he said. I let it go; no one else
was going to let him in their house. Today
I saw him at the park, standing by a statue
of Florence Nightingale. His hat off, an arm
on her shoulder, he spoke quietly in her ear.
I pretended to look at sprinkler-head, so I
could listen & I heard him saying with
such surprising tenderness, I’m sorry, but
I was too late; you’re going to stay this way.

Brendan Constantine was born in Los Angeles. His first collection, Letters To Guns, was released in February 2009 from Red Hen Press to wide acclaim. It is now taught extensively in schools throughout the Southland. His work has appeared in numerous journals, most notably Ploughshares, FIELD, Rattle, ZYZZYVA, Ninth Letter, The Pinch, ArtLife and LA Times Bestseller The Underground Guide to Los Angeles. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (2011 Write Bloody Publishing) and Calamity Joe (2012 red Hen Press). He brings poetry workshops to hospitals, foster care centers, & shelters for the homeless. In addition, he posts as poet in residence at the Windward School, and regularly volunteers with organizations like the Art of Elysium, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and the Craft & Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles. Constantine holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Hollywood at Bela Lugosi’s last address. More at:

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