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Brandon Cesmat teaches literature & writing at CSU San Marcos. His writing has appeared in Weber: The Contemporary West, ONTHEBUS, California Quarterly, The San Diego Reader and The Other Voices International Project, amongst many publications. His work has also been anthologized in In Our Own Words, Magee Park, California Poets in the Schools and the San Diego Poetry Annual. His first book Driven into the Shade received a San Diego Book Award. His second poetry book, Light in All Directions, is forthcoming from Poetic Matrix Press. His short story collection When Pigs Fall in Love is forthcoming from Caernarvon Press. Cesmat has been an advocate for poetry’s spoken word and its reintegration with other arts. He won the 2008 Cardiff Poetry Slam among his other accomplishments. He is the past president of California Poets in the Schools (CPITS), the largest artist residency program in the United States, and is an active member in Teaching Artists Organize (TAO).

Morning After All-Saints’ Eve 

How good it is to be alive after the horror of last night,
driving the children around the dark neighborhoods,
glad to see the few pumpkins, brainless but luminous.

I check the treats to make sure they’re wrapped and
wonder if it wasn’t an underemployed dentist who
slipped the first razor-blade into an apple.   
Could people who open their doors more dangerous
than those who hide on the live side of their TV?

We passed a pack of teens in no costumes, unless
they wanted to show us that horrific moment of transformation when
the mask of childhood slips and reveals the cruel grown-up creature
smoking, sulking, hulking, drunken, humping, thumping after dark.

Now in the morning paper, a victim-bites-vampire headline
about a Cuban spy expelled from The Pentagon.
Watching cartoons, my son still wearing plastic fangs
munches a Snickers that contains no embargoed sugar,
and my daughter, still wearing her diaphanous wings,
flits between us, practicing for the after life.

Published in Moon Won’t Leave Me Alone

Coca-Cola Is Guilt

I sip it slowly, no straw,
just lift the glass flared wide at the top
like Nagasaki
or Hiroshima,
a trademark recognizable worldwide.

Ah, the myths:
    Coke dissolves nails left lying in it.
    Aldolfo Calero and Vincente Fox walked on it.
    It contained cocaine, analgesic for the masses.
I swallow and believe.

It presents itself wherever I go:
    Washes down fast food I eat as
    as I drive between jobs.
    It lifts my mood and carries me through the afternoon;
    safer to drink overseas than water.

If rum is Cuba in the Cuba Libre,
Coke is the freedom of
“Both mother & daughter
working for the Yanqui dollar.”

Yes, as I sip the sweet sticky guilt
that explodes on the surface,
that explodes in commercials that
would “like to teach the world to sing”
and to listen to “the pause that refreshes”
exploding in the glass of fizz I lift,
the pizzazz of the otherwise flat “real thing.”
carbonation rising like fireworks in a dark night.
exploding in my face.

Published in Other Voices International Project

Loading the Dishwasher

My wife does the dishes
after I cook. This is our arrangement.
I watch her sponge the stain of
watermelon juice I left on the counter.
I don't have to watch. I can go read
or change the water on the orange trees.
But I have a stack of plates from the table.
The bottom two wiped clean by biscuits,
the top three still greasy.
She slides them all into the water to soak
and pinches a hard grain of rice that never cooked,
throws it into the garbage pail that’s become a bouquet
with what’s left of green onions and cauliflower leaves.
She hates our arrangement, though it was her idea.
I squeeze in beside her at the sink.
We push each other to load the dishwasher.
She slaps me with the dishtowel.
She smiles as we leave the kitchen so clean
no one can tell that we've eaten.

Published in Hiss Quarterly



Poet Brandon Cesmat

© 2009 Brendon Cesmat

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