White Whale Crossing

poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Friday, February 17, 2017

Women and Children First


Last night the maze of men
with guns stretched too tight

cocked back the orange-clad arm
of their attention and followed the path of bullets

growing from the rotted logs, the path of spent
casings and never you mind, out-of-season,

out-of-range, shoot into the cattails, suck the dry
air through thatched-rooftop spitting mouth.

They use these lips to kiss their mothers, to sing
songs of meaningless mockingbird love, to shout:

Lock her up! Lock her up!
They can’t break this country like a rotten log

can’t forget their cash cows—the gas stuck
in rocks waiting for the frack-crack—can’t

put down the chainsaw. Last night that maze of men
saluted with that orange arm, they drew back,

trespassed and landed in the over-leveraged leaves
and all the meaningless mockingbird market bells rang.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Patriarchy Killed Marissa Cooper

Owl-eyed and cat-clawed yet
the other child actors used to call her Mouse.

She always saw them first
darting diagonal across the floor

she took them with the pounce and catch
she got ‘em by the tail every goddamned time.

Bait fish, they called her, and Bones.
Leggy yearling and dearly beloved,

The It Girl—the cat,
but only until the end of the third season.

There will always be something she can breathe
to feel better, to disguise those depths

where kicked, she wished for a door
or a wick to light herself

her sadness typically eighteen
to twenty-five feet in length, girth-y

and pointing true north
where there are no accidents.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Merry Christmas Shopping

Pray to the lesser saints if you want someone to hear you
someone who died to learn the code,
those mortals who turned a mountain or two

into Facebook, who moved a miracle once, or won
a kingdom for their television hero by betting on the wrong God.
This morning the big silent screen

told me when I was standing in line for a bagel
that Fidel died. And here in America, we’ve chosen
Trump, so all the windows on Fifth Avenue dressed the angels

like sex workers. Fidel is dead but nothing is ever
a done deal. Last night in Jackson Heights
we sang Guantanamera

not knowing who was dying. We did know
Abuela never wanted to end here—92 in New York City
outlived and living out the past. Cuba widowed

her first. She cursed him before I was born: Fidel rhymes with hell
but I came to this old church to learn “forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us” and carol the bell

some say music can chase away the devil’s ire.
Mother Theresa is looking straight at me. I light a candle at her chest
two dollars in the box and I set a stick on fire,

touch the wick for Fidel because I can only expect as much treason
as I am prepared to give the beard of his majesty.
Blow it out. Does each tooth stuck into an island tree in a certain season

became a bullet shot into the open mouth of that country?
When my people were scattered and I was planted here—a burning stick—
each tooth stuck into my song, swollen and sore like a hungry

lit wreck, the one that schools you: the white rose prayer and the dog-bite curse.
Drivers and maids and wealth, that’s what the guerillas took first
when they came down from the mountains. And Christmas, of course,

then food. The breasts of Mother Theresa cast in metal, the desire
never indicated under that wrinkled wimple. I lit a candle
for Fidel and now a blind woman is lighting her own off my fire.

Mother Theresa prays in heavy metal with a Kung-Fu grip,
if only her eyes were not so tight
which is to say, if only the magical animals

did not always have to be blind.
the host sticks in my mouth, to blind the taste buds. If I listened
long with Jesus to the white noise prayerful hush

in this kingdom still recovering from the shock of Trump.
Will the metropolis mourn Fidel or savor his death? The last time I tasted
that cardboard was at a funeral. God bless you, son

and Merry Christmas,
and it’s only two days after Thanksgiving, so he should have wished us
a Merry-Christmas-Shopping because we’re on Fifth and it hasn’t iced

over yet. It’s not over yet, this practice of standing on their backs,
of churches making promises they cannot keep. Fidel Castro, for better
or for worse, depending on which saint’s app you hack

and what’s written on that faint piece of holy cardboard here
in my mouth: when we are but bone dust and done, Fidel and I,
our particles will be mixed in the wind, and we are all miracles.

Stolen Gold

The antlers were too heavy for his head
so he rushed the hunter. Just last week
I heard a deer say: I tell all of my children

if you want to rob a bank
you want to bring someone with you
who has robbed a bank before.

When a deer is killed and slit
all the good gold pulls out, then
that cavity begins to take on a different shape

we can know what he was living for,
what he heard
when the mouth of the Earth opened,

spoke sharp as a whetted saw.
All the owls flew twice as silent
wet and torn,

calling out their question
about who wears what horn
and whose head is kept, attached.

The answer tasted like cold metal
silver and tack-sharp.
Yet the forest held.

Over the winter
stolen gold
was made into teeth

that tasted purple
and when speaking
to the hunted—Who?

—the teeth
became bullets:
You.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fix You Between the Sugar and the Fire


Cover the head of the day in lemon silk.
Meet the morning river white as mist turning the plums
black. The yearling bear makes his spots with milk
as mountains mark each tree with fresh rust,
clean against the squall from the south.

Spin the day down crumbling numb steps.
Drop your spots but don’t forget your name:
most tenderly take the teeth of your own family.
Past are the days of new sneakers, fresh music, belief
in boy-band radio: now be the most careful with the teeth
of your own mouth. Don’t tell on yourself.

Sing songs betwixt the olive and the oil. Don’t tell him.
Sharks can smell your hair dye in the water, the way
you scraped your knee and a kind woman helped
opened her purse for a band-aid, you’ll be ok—
don’t cry my river dolphin, cover the head of the day.