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No One Spoke





for at least an hour. Maybe longer.  It was longer.

No one spoke, looked away, or drew attention

with their hands. A few of us opened our mouths,

a few always do. We didn’t know we’d done it.

No one saw. Like losing a button. We were busy

not speaking. We had drinks, a few snacks, watched

TV with the sound off.  A few of us thought about

the button, the one that says MUTE, how common

it is now. We tried to imagine it on other things,

things that don’t speak but are loud: lamps, guns,

a fire truck with MUTE painted on it. It would’ve

looked good on us, stenciled white across our chests.

We wore dark colors, earth tones. No one calls them

dirt tones or soil. It’s what we mean: mud, rot,

the heap of life. It’d be hard to sell clothes with

names like that.  Hard to give them away.  Maybe

if they were gifts. We’d all accept with a nod,

like we did when your picture came our way.


Brendan Constantine’s work has appeared in numerous journals, including Ploughshares, FIELD, Zyzzyva, Poetry Daily and ArtLife. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (2011) and Calamity Joe (2012). He is poet in residence at the Windward School and adjunct professor at Antioch University. He regularly offers classes to hospitals, prisons, shelters and with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.

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