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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 25, 2018.
About this Poem 

“When I first began to write, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some very tall trees, mentors who kept me honest. I remember one telling me that the controversies (in poetry) would go by like buses. ‘You can get on one now or wait fifteen minutes; there’ll be another one past.’ And, indeed, great debates have come and gone and come again: the page versus the stage, irony pro and con, should the poet use I, and, of course, are there just too many roses? If you ask me, they’re all just distractions, battles for no turf. And the rose knows nothing of poetry.”

—Brendan Constantine

This Page Ripped Out and Rolled into a Ball

A rose by any other name   could be Miguel   or Tiffany   Could be
David or Vashti   Why not Aya   which means beautiful flower   but
also verse and miracle   and a bird   that flies away quickly   You see
where this is going   That is   you could look at a rose   and call it
You See Where This Is Going   or I Knew This Would Happen   or even
Why Wasn’t I Told   I'm told of a man   who does portraits for money
on the beach   He paints them with one arm   the other he left behind
in a war   and so he tucks a rose into his cuff   always yellow   and people
stare at it   pinned to his shoulder   while he works   Call the rose
Panos   because I think that's his name   or call it   A Chair By The Sea
Point from the window   to the garden   and say   Look   a bed
of Painter’s Hands   And this is a good place   to remember the rose
already has many names   because   language is old and can't agree
with itself   In Albania you say Trëndafil   In Somalia say Kacay
In American poetry   it's the flower you must never name   And now
you see where this is going   out the window   across water
to a rose shaped island   that can't exist but   you’re counting on
to be there   unmapped   unmentioned till now   The green place
you imagine hiding   when the world finds out   you're not
who you've said

Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Constantine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Constantine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine is the author of four books of poetry, including Dementia, My Darling (Red Hen Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem

On the days when we wept—
and they were many—we did it
over the sound of a television
or radio, or the many engines
of the sky. It was rarely so quiet
we could hear just our sadness,
the smallness of it
that is merely the sound of wind
and water between the many pages
of

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