poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brass Monkey

I was doing angry things in a little way, like spitting and throwing down
my bag and picking it up again in the hot southern Mexican morning sun.

The cab driver was late late, and Riz was sick sick. She had been for weeks,
but didn’t want to ruin the vacation. The doctor in Palenque who said dengue fever

with certainty gave Riz shots in the ass. Riz was loosing strength, color,
focus in her eyes. It was time to go back to New York. I thought

it might be better to wait inside, so I took our bags up to the little bungalow internet café.
It was strange to check e-mail in the middle of a Mexican jungle. The bungalow

was on stilts so the animals could run around underneath.
I looked at flight schedules- only one to America today out of Villa Hermosa.

And we might not make it. I stood up and looked as far down the dust road as possible. No one. I checked my e-mail and I only had one. My friend had killed himself.

He jumped from a bridge in Portland, Oregon. I froze until the cab honk honk
broke in to my freeze. I took a sharp shallow breath, and picked up both backpacks.

I told the driver what time the plane was arriving and he sped us away.
Almost immediately, Riz rolled down her window and vomited. Got pulled over

shortly by young men with big black guns on the side of the road. They
made us get out of the cab. It was Riz who insisted we go to Chiapas. Fucking Chiapas.

I pulled Riz out onto her feet and told them she was sick. They could see it.
They said things to the cabdriver that I couldn’t hear. We got back in and sped away.

I guess it wasn’t a speeding ticket. The cab was nice, it smelled good, it had a CD player.
I fumbled around in my backpack for a CD to play. My friend who died the night before

had made a mix called Watermelon and I put that in the CD player. The driver
turned it up so we couldn’t hear the sick noises from Riz. It was making me feel sick too.

The driver liked the music. I rolled down my window.
The air blasted the tears off my face. Beastie Boys. Brass Monkey.

The driver knew the song, he sang and I joined him- Brass Monkey, that funky monkey.
Sick sick sick in the back. That car was old and fast fast fast.
That funky monkey, we sang.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

They were never not rats

My only bad dream
is about rats. Yes, I can
hear them in deep sleep.

They chew through the wall.
They were always always rats
even though I tried

to live with them. They
will never love me or feel
trap-pain, poison, you

warn me in haiku:
They were always rats, yes, they
were never not rats.

You get one haiku
the rats get five, they take them
back through the wall-hole.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

House and Home

Duraflame logs cause cancer, the state of California
requires that to be clearly stated on the side of the box. All warnings
which get in the way of comforts must be disregarded sometimes,
especially on cold nights or on vacation. This is not my home.
My apartment doesn’t have a fireplace.
The man who lives here has another family. Kids that are grown up now.
Not that you could tell from this house. I had hesitations about coming here.
I could never burn enough wood to warm this cathedral. Cancersmoke tonight
and my New Year’s resolution will be to quit Duraflames
and learn how to build fires from the wood bundles sold on the side of the road.
Last year I went to Santa Barbra for New Years. The year before I went to Miami.
I don’t remember what I resolved to do. This year I will be in New York even though
that city broke my heart. Miami gave me a bad psychotic fever. After some
nice electric flordia stuff I felt like I was famous. It’s good to gargle
after you do it, I just learned that, gargle with water so the back of your throat
doesn’t get a yeast infection. Eric and I got into a fight in Miami. He said I killed Mike.
I jumped at him, over a table, knocked his chair backwards. Marc rushed to pull
me away, Ray waited a while, he knew Eric deserved it. Marc couldn’t
do it by himself and when Ray grabbed me too, I got Eric’s shirt with both hands
and ripped it straight down the middle as they pulled me away.
Eric didn’t hit me, but I spit on him as they were pulling me up and he seemed too
dazed to realize it. I was hysterical. Two new years ago I spent the whole night crying.
I watched the sun rise. I stayed awake until I could talk to Mike. By then it was too late
to come back in, back to the rooms where people work and eat and sleep and love.
Couldn’t go back to college. That night still burns like a chemical-soaked
wood substitute. The flame is green where it should be purple. The smell is strange
it burns out slowly. I am in someone else’s house now, still burning. The man
who lives here has two families, like Eric’s dad who is rich from the stock market,
had four children and left them for another woman and with each new baby
that union makes, Eric watches his inheritance shrink. And so he drinks.
Eric’s girlfriend likes to cut coupons with him. They save and save and someday
will be rich, get married, have too many children for there to be much of an inheritance.
Eric will probably leave his wife when she starts to get wrinkles. She
will pay for the Botox injections with his child support money. It doesn’t matter
what he does. He could stay with his wife forever. Save a small fortune and adopt
just one child, who will never have to work, it doesn’t matter.
He will always feel guilty. He should feel guilty.
He killed Mike.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


We made cookies with a box of cake mix last night,
two eggs and a half cup of vegetable oil. Lisa suggested this method.
Lisa wins every year. This year I want to be the cookie-queen.
I just started working at this library a few months ago. I have never
entered any sort of baking contest before. I sprinkled green sugar on the cookies
just before they went in the three hundred and fifty degree heat
to change forever. Baking made the air in the apartment christmas-sweet and heavy.
We got drunk on it quickly, in between putting sheets of cookies in the oven,
we hopped into bed and pulled off our clothes and made love.

I rushed to the kitchen at eleven minute intervals, sex-high,
pulled out the cookies and threw a new batch in the oven. The cookies aren’t perfect
circles. I made twenty-four and dropped three.
We ate them with soy milk last night. You make
French toast this morning. The cookies are drugs. The librarians will
start a love train. You put them in a green tin, the one your mother sent
the brownies in, you tie it up with a green ribbon.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Squirrels, TV Set, Shutters and Silence

You haunt me with ordinary things
like the television set and squirrels in the walls
and shutters banging against the side of the house at night.
It’s your ghost dressed up like a squirrel. Your ghost knocking on my door.

What a sad breakfast we are having today.
I have eggs florentine and hot chocolate. You have come back.
Lately I’ve been crying myself to sleep. Go away.
I won’t clean up the apartment for you. Go away.
I am going to have an intimate twilight garden wedding.
You will not be invited. Last night

I cried violently and it was your fault. You and your
plastic suicide. Me and my locked door.
I lock and lock and lock.
You knock three times on my silence.

Soon I’ll be in new york city for christmas
with another sad song, I’ll be another girl then,
maybe I’ll call you. I haven’t decided yet
what your name will be this time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Because It's You

We find a small kitchen and we paint it bright yellow and blue.
There are flowers in vases- yellow flowers that I paint blue.
We find a bear going through the garbage, I am scared of the bear
but you are not. The bear has a big long fluffy white and black tail,
like a raccoon, a garbage-eater.

Now we make food on the beach, grill-food like hotdogs and
cold red and blue cans of soda. There are multi-colored tents here, like a circus,
we discover a horse, and I ride it away.
But the land I am riding on gets smaller and smaller
surrounded by vertical drop cliffs and violent ocean.
The horse keeps getting very close to the edge, so I jump off.

The landscape and horse shrink.
The horse holds on to my hand and claws me as he shrinks away.
Then you come back but you look skinnier and smaller
and have shaved off your beard. I am very happy you shaved
but then you turn into someone else and you start to take my shirt off
and I let you, because it's you.

But then I sit up and do the whole, “Should we really be doing this here?” thing
and you sit up, and I take your hand and pull you to another place.
And now the police come, and I don’t have any drugs, but I assume you do
and then we are sitting at a kitchen table and you say the full name of the drug dealer

and that ordinarily that would be a bad thing, but then,
the cop doesn’t really seem to be paying attention, so we paint him blue too.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Tofurkey Is Late

Mike did all his laundry and folded it in neat piles before he killed himself.
His room was spotless. His papers were all in order. I went through his room,
looking for something, but I’m still not sure what I wanted. I took a pillow, I think
and I took some of the letters I wrote him that I didn’t want anyone else
to read or throw away. His parents rented a big dumpster
and paid people to empty the room. They threw everything away.
He wouldn’t have done his laundry if he’d wanted that. Or maybe
cleaned up because that’s what good boys do.
I later found I had a pair of his boxers at my house.
They are dark blue with Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner
on them. It’s worse when a child dies, isn’t it?

It’s Monday before thanksgiving, there is a vegan tofurkey extravaganza on campus
and Jed and I go and stand on line with fidgety undergrads who
seem so young and chatty. The Vegan Society is using a large room that
has just been vacated by mourners. They were mourning Amadou Cisse,
the grad student who was shot and killed last night. He was 29.
The air is thick with disbelief. The mourners cleared out
to make room for the tofurkey crowd and Jed and I stand on line waiting
to fill up our plates. Would it have been worse if it had been the kid behind us, the one
with his Tupperware, his hi-top sneakers, and big hair, maybe a virgin,
talking too loudly about the radio station? He can’t be more then nineteen. Mike was 21.
Amadou was 29. I am 24. Jed is 27. The tofurkey is fifteen minutes late.
The air smells of tears.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

First Snow

I am all foot-stomping
and slender, eating fresh fruit
while my father shoots crabs on the beach.
The whole ocean is in pain.
My flowers blossom white and big as a cake.

I slice cakes covered with powdered sugar like snow
after yoga. Do you know
the whole time I practice yoga
I try to forget how much I want cake?

The first time I saw snow I was afraid to go out of the house.
I still don’t trust it. I make a fresh pot of coffee and my ghosts smile at me.
Touching them makes them melt faster.
The squirrels run up the fire escape.

Abuelo won’t go back to Cuba, even to haunt.
Don’t you know ghosts are only made of rain?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Betty Page, Mary Oliver and the Poolroom

Of course I remember you- you came out of the river naked
that day my friend was having a barbeque at the deep home. You ate an ear of corn raw
and jumped back in the river. You’re the girl who went to Maui,
the girl who broke down after she was raped. You gave speeches
in front of the entire house, you sang and cried after Mark died. We hugged
at his funeral. I once said you looked like Betty Page and you got upset. We
smoked blunts at the White House together on Friday afternoons. I was the one
who always left without saying goodbye. I sent you that e-mail when you went
to the hospital, when you were sick and couldn’t come back to school
so you sent out a poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver to the graduating seniors—
You do not have to be good, is the first line. I have a picture of you in a rainbow
sarong that you used to wear in the summertime. I found it on the floor in the poolroom,
the room you were raped in. You filled that room with photos and poems afterwards
you made everyone come into the poolroom with you,
we all stood in a circle and held hands.


I put my clothes on in the small sterile bathroom
wrapping my hospital gown into a tight ball in my hands.
It happened last week and I still have abrasions on the inside.
I sit on a cot and sip ginger ale, the nurse fills out the police report.
I wait for the tests to come back. Pregnancy, syphilis, HIV.
The word abrasion has the nails-across-a-blackboard feeling.

I am not angry yet, still too scared to be angry. He wasn’t wearing a condom,
blonde hair and blue eyes, six feet, male, early twenties, didn’t come, at least
not while I was conscious. The police officer in charge
of my case told me that he was printing out the photos I e-mailed
from his printer at home and his daughter came over and saw my rapist
and said he was cute, that he looked like a Backstreet Boy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lace and Burn

“On November 13th, 2007 at approximately 11:45 PM, the body of an unknown female victim was found burning in a vacant lot in the 6100 block of South Prairie Avenue…On November 14th, 2007 at approximately 12:51 AM, the body of an unknown female victim was found burning in the rear of the 800 block of East 50th Street.”

-from a “Community Alert” flyer
posted by Area One Detective Division
Alert 610-07-085a
November 14, 2007

We read this Community Alert at the corner store together today.
We buy mouthwash, roach traps, a bar of chocolate. On the walk home
I notice the Christmas trees are out already in the lot by the French restaurant.
Are we going to have a tree? The Victoria’s Secret Christmas catalog came today.
At home I line up my presents and look them over. Good, good, good, good.
I sit down on the couch with the Victoria’s Secret, low-rise, fishnet, glitter and lace—
no no no the pages are burning. I am burning in a dumpster by Harold Washington Park.

The two women who were burned-what sort of bras did they wear? Underwire
must heat up when you are being burned. I take off my bra. Breathe deeply.
A high-school science teacher used to make jokes about women
wearing underwire bras getting electrocuted because the metal attracts lightning.
He liked the excuse to talk about bras, to see our faces, the girls who were wearing
underwire got more flushed then the rest, perhaps. I wonder
if one is more likely to be electrocuted in a freak underwire-bra accident
or burned in a vacant lot. Feminism is about choices—

the Pom-Pom Glitter Babydoll Push-up or the Lace-up Fishnet Thong.
Two unknown female victims. Laced-up and burned-up.
Their deaths seem like Holocaust deaths. Can’t breathe. I look at bras
instead of breathing. Some of the girls look too young to be so naked.
They hold peppermint lollypops. Santa baby pom-pom angels.
I learn from internet-news that the first burning woman was pregnant.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I gave you my beads because I had nothing better to give
when I asked you to marry me. More then a hundred times
a day I thought about Ganesh back then. I asked the wood beads what time it was. Daylight savings time fucked it up but it held my sins so my heart wouldn’t have to.
You live longer that way, Abuela says. Abuela answers my questions strangely,
half in Spanish and very embarrassed of her failing memory.
She calls me by my mother’s name. Oh Abuela, I say with a sigh, I can’t even tell time.

If you ever need luck darling, tell the beads around your neck
by pressing each bead hard till you feel your finger-hearts beating. I must have died
of starvation in a past life because nothing feels so good as being full. Even
when I am alone, I am full of your love. Throwing away an empty carton, I see how
the orange General Tso’s sauce makes rivers at the creases where the white cardboard
folds into itself. I walk in sweatpants and flip-flops. The dead leaves flatten
under my full feet in the New England nighttime. I have a love letter warm in my pocket
from you. I carry it with me everywhere. I stop and re-read
your letter under a streetlight. In this moment my life feels perfect, simple, complete.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Did I ever thank you for that wonderful breakfast when my feet were cold
because I was wearing my shoes with the holes in them
and you took off your green and white striped socks and put them on my feet?
I wrote a napkin poem that morning at the little hippie breakfast place in Brattleboro,
Vermont complete with stains from the seitan sausage and the cashew French toast.
The poem is about your green and white socks.
I remember it so clearly though it’s a full year and a thousand
miles behind us. There was the time back there in the old life when the rats
in the walls kept me awake all night and you came over with spackle and a flat metal tool
and covered over the hole they were gnawing by the foot of my bed.
Thank you for that. And thank you for the hot dark chocolate milk
you made a few days ago when I didn’t want to get out of bed.
It was like liquid chocolate cake.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Montréal to Manhattan

Remember when you came to the hospital, having walked all the way from Montréal
to Manhattan and then you sat half a day waiting for visiting hours, sitting
outside the door? Remember when you came to the hospital in Vermont
and the doors didn’t matter? You can’t touch anything anymore and no one can see you
but me. I am all cracked now, with crazy glue seams. I dreamed with you last night.
You said, now you’re with him, and you didn’t say his name, but we could both see
me in bed with the man I am going to marry. I asked you if you could see me
all the time and you said yes. Remember that day at the arboretum
when we were standing by that child’s playhouse thinking maybe
we could just go in there forever and be a family? Remember the scary child-sized dolls
who watched you propose? And remember the day you threw all of my shit out
of your car onto Dave’s driveway and drove away? Can you see me typing
this, can you read it, are you that close? Did you see me insist you were still alive
somewhere? Remember when everything I saw was a sign that you were still alive?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pasqual and the Angel

Pasqual wraps up marijuana cigarettes in sweet hibiscus flowers
and holds them to the angel’s nose and breathes deeply from the dark clay of night.
Pasqual and the angel blow smoke in between drops of rain,
the rain makes a truck come down the road.

I have to catch a ride back to El Panchen before the road is mud, she says,
her white dress sticks wet, her long arms reach out to the strong
wolf-eyed man who pulls her up, her legs kick out, Pasqual watches, shaman-calm
as the woman in the white dress leaves his hot night flying.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Regresa a mí

“Unbreak My Heart” is playing in Spanish
at this corner coffee shop in Chicago.
It seems very serious and much more beautiful in Spanish
in the middle of the afternoon
with the other unemployeds, some of whom are writers.
We are all heartbroken. We talk in peculiar ways.
What are you up to, godly daughter?
Did the internet destroy the underground?

And then I spill my extra-large soy chai on my laptop.
Unbreak my heart, soy chai!
I say, Fuck! really loud and everyone looks at me.
What would Toni Braxton do?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Love Poem for Jed

Sunday is visiting day at the correctional facility in Haverhill, New Hampshire.
There is no good Chinese food in that town.
Little New England towns are very proud of their bad Chinese food.
I mistakenly go for the General Tso’s Tofu.
This place is called New Century, it has big cheap chandeliers making green
and purple prisms spin on the walls, like orderly and ugly hallucinations.
If only Kyle and Melissa had gotten busted in Vermont.
Vermont’s drug laws are much less strict.
I should have gone to some small liberal arts college in Vermont.
Jed comes back from a long stay in the bathroom.
I haven’t felt the rumbling yet, but I know it’s coming. We leave quickly.
We have to be on time for visits, or else they won’t let us in.
This morning we visited Kyle and he seemed to be doing OK. He says
they make him wash dishes all day at the old folks home across the street.
He doesn’t get paid but they let him have all the coffee he can drink
and he still has a virgin asshole.
Now it’s evening and it’s time to see Melissa.
Jed and I wait outside in the rain with the other visitors. I recognize
one lady, she sells me cigarettes almost every day at the general store.
She smiles at me, winks, I smile back. We chat in restless short sentences
about who we are going to see and why they are locked up.
Her boyfriend steals cars. My friends sell drugs. No rapes, no murders.
Nothing serious. Haha. Yeah. The guards walk us through
the metal detectors and down to the cement windowless basement.
On the floor there are red lines in tape, about three feet apart.
They stay behind their red line and we stay behind ours.
Jed holds my hand and my stomach begins to make noises.
My smile is mostly misery. I squeeze Jed’s hand, tense up my body.
Melissa starts crying as soon as she sees us. I make it about 20 minutes
before I have to go to the bathroom and the warden tells me
that once I leave I won’t be able to get back in
and I am not allowed to use their bathrooms, so I run out in the rain
to the old folks home, the one where Kyle washes dishes
and I find a toilet and cry. And then I think about Jed and the pretty lemons
he got for me at the Co-op, thinking they were oranges. Dear Jed
it’s hard to write you a love poem with General Tso’s tofu poisoning.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Jesus learns to kiss

He bites off the end of his tongue
almost entirely and kisses my mouth
with the forces of love and hunger.

His tongue tip hangs from a thin strip
in his big mouth, full of his own blood.

He dangles the tip into my mouth
like I should eat it.

Like I should want that.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Same Sleep

My nails butterknife your back, my chin overtakes
your shoulder, as though
my body could go through yours
and we'd still be traveling in the same direction.

When we close, I face the wall
and you fold in behind me
cupping my body in yours
and we fall into the same sleep.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I got talked out of death by a representative of the program.
A long time ago, back when it was enough for a woman to go to college.

You went to college?
Wow. You know?

We had one computer in our office.
That was a really big deal.

One computer.

Lots of things got done without computers.
They say the Pope- not the new one, the old Polish one

I just saw a show about him on TV—
he never used computers.

The old Pope built his church divinely
you know what I’m saying?

And he always opened every speech like this
Don’t be afraid!

Because people were afraid of God.
He looked like a big baby with those fat cheeks,

fat and red, like a cherub, his whole life.
When babies die they go to heaven right away,

which is where that old Pope is now.
Oh the old Pope was certainly pushed along by God.

Rena, I thought your book was depressing.
I didn’t read the whole thing.

My eyes are getting old and I can’t read so much anymore.
I wake up every day at 4AM and my neighbor said that was old age.

He goes, I don’t care, I’ve been through all of this—
when you wake up and look at the clock, you get up out bed right away.

Don’t stay there! That’s how old people die,
when they stay in bed too long.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jellyfish in the Estuary

I watch the pink and plum purple jellyfish and wish
they were not here as the sky watches the drink
and everything changes color gradually towards night
on the side of the island without waves, perfect for swimming

in the twilight and also perfect for jellyfish who just want to hang out.
They have no plan, like me. I had trouble staying in college.
I have trouble staying, in general. Remember that very small albino poodle
that you called Samson? I called him Fancy.

You hated that. I count eight miles from here to the tail
of this fish-shaped island, hiding in the shadow of the city.
Remember that night you slept over, kept your clothes on,
the night I faced the wall and you curved your body around mine
like an old catchers mitt? The night you trembled so much
I thought you were crying, but I was too afraid to turn around?

Summer here is the texture of taffy. Today it’s all toothache. Tomorrow it will be all hangover.
I sit on the bluff and watch the sky as it pinks and streaks. I have no plan.
I want to write hot orange poetry in the sky. I am too drunk already, and without
the jellyfish I might just swim for Connecticut. Couldn't be more than thirty miles.
I wonder if that would even count as suicide.

Remember trying to convince me to hate the Yankees?
Maybe if you asked me now I would pretend to care.
I hear you commit wild crimes these days.
Maybe if you were here we’d swim for Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bomb Hat

Walking up Fifty-Third street on Halloween
towards the bank, happy because I just bought tickets
on-line to go home to New York for Christmas,
I came upon a man who was getting dressed for a bomb.

There were plastic yellow police lines strung around like
Christmas lights might be next month and I stopped
next to a guy on his bike who told me that there was a “suspicious package”
in Nichols Park and we laughed. Who does Chicago think it is? New York? Please.
The cop was carefully adding bomb-proof layers.

The best layer was his hat, which looked like one of the
old-school diving hats that Jacques Cousteau might have worn
to go underwater. A bulb for the head, with a hole
where a tube for oxygen might go in. It struck me as funny

that his outfit was camouflage-color
like if he could sneak up on the suspicious package,
it would turn out to be a purse or maybe some groceries.
I went to the bank and forgot about it, instead I thought about

what to have for dinner, and I carefully avoided the park
on my way back down Fifty-Third. I went to Hyde Park Produce
I got a bag of Honey Crisp Apples and some soymilk and left laughing
cause one of the guys who works there was wearing a Freddie Krueger mask

and said something funny to me in Spanish. I left thinking
about how nice it will be to eat the apples, and then I heard the explosion
from the park, and my first thought was the bomb hat
and what it feels like to be twenty-thousand leagues under the sea.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mouth Full of Brooklyn

I am surprised first by my wet sneakers when the sea comes up cold to wake us.
And then by your tattooed torso and how you kiss with a mouth full of Brooklyn.

Mornings when you are not here I go straight down to the cold ocean of memories.
Mornings when you are not here the sun shines on your place in my bed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Amherst Aubade

My sister mowed me
with a garden hoe
you say, when I lightly stroke

the pink scar below your nose.
You have the softest hands that have ever touched my face.
Don’t tell me it’s morning,
I will not go.

Friday, October 26, 2007

That type of translation

I saw an animal flattened on the sidewalk
there were no face-parts. Nothing
to identify it, just the awful colors
blood turned brown and dust grey of fur or wings.
It might have been a bird or a squirrel.
Soon it will be the non-color of concrete.
It will dissolve after negotiations with feet and rain.
It reminds me of what the city does to snow
of what the city will do with me.
I can’t survive that type of translation.

I used to think the moon was made of pure sugar
in the days when I didn’t try to understand death.
I remember watching meteor showers sure
that the stars were throwing themselves at each other
because they were in love. Mike was dying
and sugar was glittering wickedly in the sky.

Haven’t gotten out of bed in a while. If I could get
to a planet just six light-years away
and I could make a telescope to see the Earth
and America and Long Island and I looked
so close that I could see Mike kissing me six years ago,
then I would get out of bed. The surface of the city
vibrates with death. I can’t.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dead End Columbus*

My grandmother was born on the fourth of July, she
passed her mental illness down to my mother
but cut her out of the will. I was born
with my mother’s paranoia. My birthday is the day
after Flag Day. But no one cares about Flag Day.
People like Memorial Day, people like war.
I saw a car license plate that said prisoner of war in small letters
all stacked up on each other to the right side of the license plate numbers.
A prisoner somewhere in this state made that license plate
and I wonder if he felt an affinity for the person
who had been a prisoner in another country’s method of chains
and locks and stone and metal and wood and water and windows.
There should not be a Columbus day.
If I was on the ship with Christopher Columbus, I would have told him

This isn’t India.
I would have whispered into the sea-wind
America is a dead end, Columbus.
But you know Columbus wouldn’t have listened.

If I was the Santa Maria, I might purposely hit
the shore too hard for my hull to handle, and I would split
right down the middle, I’d crack and bloody all my wood bones
pop my nails out and as the water came in the windows
and I started my stone-sink to the bottom
and all the sailors took planks
for themselves, I would show them fireworks
and I would sing them pain.

*In September I posted a version of this poem. This is the latest draft.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Observations at the Amherst Museum

If I were this dead old mammoth’s mother
I might not like this museum. All the skeletons seem male and functional.

Behind me are very old nuts behind glass—
butternuts, beech nuts, hickory nuts, choke cherry pits, scarlet oak acorns.

There’s a little girl here in the museum who squeezes her father’s hand
because she wants to climb the mammoth’s bones and he won't let her go.

If I was her mother
I might say something stupid to her like—
Race you to the tusk!

and give her bottom a little push
hoping she got to the top before anyone noticed

and yelled at us. I am not the mammoth’s mother.
I am not anyone’s mother. I am the little girl pulling your hand.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What To Have for Breakfast

My brother just wanted to smoke pot in the kitchen
and ride out the rest of his acid trip in the pre-dawn Sunday gray light alone.

He got a pack of cigarettes on the way home
and then he sat in his old car in the driveway marveling at the green-apple glass
windshield and the softness of the creased seat and the glow of all the gauges
on the dashboard. He felt waxy and his car smelled
overwhelmingly of taco bell, bong water and tobacco.

My mother sat in the kitchen chainsmoking, waiting
for the valium to kick in. She kept the lights off
so she could get tired. She had already dressed for church and
put all the dishes away, read the only magazine she liked
and polished her long dry fingernails. The cat had killed
a cockroach by the oven and my mother accepted it as a present
and let it sit with her in the gray smoky beginnings
of a Sunday she was hoping to sleep through.

She assumed my brother was home
was surprised to see headlights, he did not notice her
at first, but he saw the cockroach and thought it was alive
and stepped on it. “It was already dead,” my mother said
and he looked at her and looked at the floor and lit a cigarette
and sat down. There was nothing else
he could do, he later said, but talk to her.

Mother, your fires burn the coal oceans orange. Yes, somewhere
a tree in California is calling your name with fruit and with women
who have put their hands in the fire for diamonds
like you, they sit with death in gray smoke clouds
with red nails and a bowl of fresh fruit on the table
they drop ash on the floor to give themselves something to sweep.

Insomnia means swimming in strong, sad glass, he explained later.
It’s like trying to pick leaves off a plastic plant.

I came into the kitchen where my mother and brother sat
smoking cigarettes and crying. The sun was coming up. I found
some pancake mix, nothing fancy, it was
the just-add-water kind. "Hello you," she said
as though it were the middle of the afternoon
and the most important question was what to have for breakfast.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Winter Squash Blues

Hello winter shelves, hello white snow fields
hello winter squash keeping my underground cellar full
I could live on food and blues and rainstorms
real rainstorms, springtime rotten--
it’s just you and the flowers, still
covered over. Hello spring- so soon?
The soil said start and I saw you, new squash, still
a baby learning to see the sun and catch it and take it
so in the winter you will be full of summer sun
you will be my dew-drinking springtime, powering me through the snow, oh
Goodbye winter, I need some time
to think about things. Spring please tell me
how warm the grass can feel and I will hide under the wide
brim of squash leaves as they grow
it’s cool under there, with your yellow blossoms and the bugs
I will hide here until the end of the summer
makes the air hurt cold, I don’t know
what will happen so until then, wrap your roots
and vines around me, feed me through the winter.
Will you look at me like fall looks to change colors
autumn can make us look like devils.
Hello sweet orange flesh, do you miss soil? Oh
getting picked seemed nice, but after growing, dying comes, it
gives me the winter squash blues in September again when
every pumpkin hungry Halloween girl is in the fields and the tangerine flowers
once hidden and lidded by cool leaves close to the soil, stomped on now
the fruit is already grown, I know you winter squash will still be young till
October or November and shine from the inside not because of carving and candles
or children eating pocket-warm candy celebrating
a flickering face of jagged teeth and triangled eyes
you will shine with your own squash soul
like you did as a seed in the soil
when you promised to feed me through winter and
I kissed you with rain, poking holes in the ground for air
and calling down to you
hello hello hello

Friday, October 12, 2007


If I’m lucky, hell is just hot, hot sunsets
and maybe a little breezy. Maybe
It’s nothing more than memory loss
like all the important papers blowing away in the wind.
It’s not a violent electric loss, if I’m lucky,
it’s something more like flight. Memories migrating away
like geese when it starts to get chilly out. Watch me
polish the traumas, even when they won’t let me sleep.
I give them over, you remove the teeth one by one,
then the claws and fur, trying to give me a happy ending.
My memories already make a migration away from me yearly.
Heaven, when I’m lucky, is like driving in a mossy fog
on the highway, so dense I can’t see the poles of the streetlights,
just their bright heads and they give me a dim glimpse
of the road in front of me, until the next poem lights up
another little bit and then the next poem and then the next.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


buy a gun for love.
trade the gun for food.
sell the love for sleep.

shoot into the rainy sunrise.
sleep alone in the morning rain hungry, until

violent dreams wake you with their breath.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sunday Brunch

Great Aunt Sophie tells me I needn't
worry about my grades because
I'll get married as soon as I get out of college,
and then I'll live in a big house in a nice neighborhood,

while my father talks incessantly about strippers.
Strippers are very smart.
Strippers make so much money-- you’d be surprised.
Strippers would make better psychiatrists
than the two I am currently seeing at Payne-Whitney Manhattan.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Eggs Expensive

My eyes were blue and mom wasn’t so mad
no one was so mad. They wrapped me in a cloth
and I sat on a sandy road for a long time thinking.

The road was wide and it had vendors on either side.
The cloth was the color of the ocean with silver spangles.
I had a feeling I had been there before,
naked but for the cloth, holding things in my arms like
my blue yoga mat and a chakra map.

If I have a teacher here, they will know me by sight.
But for a long time no one knew me.
Then my best friend Marisa was there
and she was talking about the place we stayed at in Mexico.
I was saying they had a nice full breakfast included, but
she said, “It was just eggs expensive, don’t you think?”

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Taking a Vacation to California at Christmastime

Mike, you found me (you always find me, everywhere)
strolling down a warm street in Santa Barbara
the week after Christmas with my new fiancé.
The street was called MICHAEL TORENA BLVD.
but I read it as a giftname, like a marriage of the words
Michael to Rena. Like my happiness
is a gift from you. I still have
the dream I had the night you decided to leave
your body. There was a fishpond in the front yard, with a lone goldfish
whose one sad eye stayed on us as he circled.
Behind him was the house we had always wanted,
a small house with big windows full of yellow light in the evening.
And I know you remember what happened when I woke
from that dream and found your simple note:

I forgive you.
I love you.
I’m sorry.

Remember how I wanted to die too?
You come in my dreams now, you tell me dying
is like going away on a boat for millions of days.
So pray your self a shipwreck, I say. Maybe you will like building
from nothing, better then you like being lost at sea.
You miss your shoes. You miss your make-up.

My love never ends darling,
your death never stops being true.
You can't take your suicide back,
but letting me go is the least you can do.

(Oh my darling Mike, is it still all pain?)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Complicated Grief

We can’t go on like this, caged
cause the car won’t start
and there’s going to be storms tonight.

Maybe it’s not cold enough to stand
on the river ice yet but if I fall
from winter to where you are
there won’t be any mouths
any voices to call me crazy.

Ghost so bright, I can’t look directly at you
you are the color of sunshine
you make me blindcrazy.
Your love is the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Love Poem

Green Rock Publications is featuring some of my poems.

Click on a title to see them.

I put To New York on the blog a while back, but it looks so much cooler when Green Rock does it. They also have a poem of mine called Love Poem but for some reason there is a typo on their page, so I am going to give you that poem right here, right now, without the error.

Love Poem

You, my love, are coming
closer (like manifest destiny)
in this room, in this old New England town
(full of hundred-year old dust and Mayflower families)
where it is always winter.

The band is playing too loud, you move
towards me (to overspread this continent)
and I stand on the other side
a far away and wild California.
Discover me, I smile
a gold rush. The truth is I can’t move

I am stuck in quiet scary cycles of
feverish family secrets
keeping me awake and alone
at night. The truth is,

I am mentally ill and
you look like glory.
The truth is, everything winter always
comes back to spring.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 11, 2007

It’s taken me six years to get to the new city. Chicago
is my lover waiting at home at the end the day. I have a new home
and a new name. Cursing the years I spent in a coma on the couch in Queens
as the blue light of dawn crept in, after being afraid all night. New York is nothing
to me just dim days of traps and terror alerts. New York
wanted me to stay with him but I am a master of escape.

I still have a black thumb-sized bruise on my arm from where New York pulled,
said my old name, spit in my face.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Poetry Class

The terribly closeted homosexual poet to my left nods
vigorously when I speak of Henry Adams. I bet Henry was a top.
But that’s not what I’m saying in class, I am talking about chaos,
which makes me think of James, and also I think about Clover Adams,
Henry’s sweet wife who killed herself.

James gives tours at the Saint Gaudens sculpture garden
in Cornish, New Hampshire. He explains
that the Adams memorial has no gender, no name, and he gives
possible reasons for Clover’s suicide.

One theory is that she didn’t get to attend Harvard
like Henry and the rest of the boys.
I don’t buy it.
No, no, darling, I say,
Had she gone to Harvard, she might have done it sooner.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

said the 100 million-year-old bee

I knew right away what kind of trap it was.
I knew the words goldblood and moltonmiddle
because I had seen amber before. I had known others like me
too old to escape this yellow melt. I didn’t know
if there was still a moon,
I expected to be ash in the morning.
I remember wondering
Will I wet-rot inside this rock, and
When do I begin again?

This was inspired by a discovery at Oregon State.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Says the Body

You wake up sore and alone.
You are embarrassed. You want to go home,
but it’s so early that there’s no line at the breakfast place
and you want a good cup of coffee
so you go in and sit down at the counter, head down.

You see the pretty ceiling tile designs reflected in the coffee,
they shift as your hands shake.
On the counter is a newspaper, the story on the front page says the body
of the boy who had been missing was found by neighbors in the woods.
It appears to have been suicide.

Outside the window it is springtime
and the flower petals float down all white and pink and wonderful.
You are ten years old again, in the car with your mother
driving home from mass on Sunday morning.
The petals come down from the trees like soft pink blown kisses,
like Jesus is making big snowflakes in the springtime, just for you.

Monday, September 24, 2007

August Monarchs

Heavy garlic smells fly
from the little pizza place on the corner
to where I sit alone
in a coffee shop courtyard with fine parking-lot views.
You asked me not to smoke today.
Just try it, you said. And I try.

A dirty stranger sits at my table.
I am salty and blue, he says
and French- for five dollars, just
hoping to get a couple of good days
between the yellow lines
on the trail of books and hooks.

I drink my coffee, still not smoking
with this man who smells and talks crazy. I watch him
as he moves carefully, as he washes
in waves of garlic and sunshine.
Yes, it could be the library’s fault, sending
out boxes of guts and midsections, he said. You know,
the other day, every time I stopped, all
these big orange butterflies would land on me.
He pulls a black and gold butterfly gingerly
out of his grimy pocket. He blows on it and
it flies towards the pizza place on the corner
like a miracle. Maybe it likes garlic.
I offer him a cigarette and he very politely declines,
he says he's recently quit. He soberly advises me to do the same.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I can still smell the hiker-sleep, earthy and wet on hot
summer nights, on the old cloth couch
in the room with the walls were painted with trees
and music. I started out on the wings
of the large unshaven one, he blinks around
like a butterfly that could kill you, he tells me
the size of this country and the size of my foot are the same
he tells me sometimes it takes the Trail to change where you are going,
Only to find everyone is just passing through
and freedom is the music you make alone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jesus Don’t Talk Suicide

Jesus wanted to die
he just didn’t talk about it like that,

he waited to be nailed to the warm wood and in the meantime he invited painters
to large lavish last suppers, he multiplied the fishes and made the wine.

I’ve had many patients who thought they were Jesus.
Isn’t everyone Jesus? I thought that was the point.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Clock in Flashing

Power went out again, when we were out
getting drunk with the woman I sometimes wish was my mother.
I sat at her table thinking that I had all my mother’s flaws,
and saying cliché things like I’ll drink to that.

Tonight it’s probably best not to know what time it is.
Just to let Bob Dylan play and pretend I am writing with a pencil
while in reality I type drunkenly and look longingly at you, I can’t
pretend that I am more interested in writing this poem by touching
these plastic-clicking lap-top letters instead of touching your warm

body and pulling you to me but darling, after we die, and no one
touches us warm, after our flesh is burned and wind-blown,
will anyone know what I feel like tonight, if I don’t write it?

Tonight we had dinner with Cynthia and
almost ran out of gas on the way home,
tonight the power went out and came back.
I understand the confine of time, says
the clock in flashing it’s green numbers at us
like the numbers know I must stop writing
in favor of drunkenly touching you and hoping
that this little poem will keep us here forever.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Me and Mike’s Ghost

I went to an audition for a voice-over role
in an animated movie about animals. I just sat in an auditorium
with a bunch of people and then my parents showed up out of nowhere
and I covered my eyes and made signs of disgust.

Of course they got upset and left
and then we were outside of the auditorium talking.
I hadn’t had time to audition, but someone came out with a cast list
and told me to get one. My character’s name was Rena.

When I saw Mike, he came to sit next to me
but only if I promised not to touch him with my hands.
He pressed himself into my side. I am sure Mike is still there,
but I don’t remember where that is anymore,
and what's worse, none of this really happened,

it was just
all the doors in my head opening up at the same time.
It was just
a room in a mental hospital.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Seeing Each Other

This poem was published in the Stonefence Review this past Spring, but I wrote it in 2004.

Seeing Each Other

The TV was too loud when you stopped breathing.
Your little sister couldn’t sleep. Your mother broke down
the door in the morning, two years ago. Your mother
found you, plastic bag closed
tight to your head and whipped cream canisters leaking
onto the carpet. You died laughing.

My stubborn love
makes a new sense for you,
like eyesight I know
you’ve been watching me swim summers
down the river, under the bridge, and older
then you ever were.

You saw the little black dress
I described when they asked the inevitable
What were you wearing?
I hadn’t slept with anyone
since you. I kept my vigil.

That night, almost exactly two years after your death, you watched.
That’s the problem with heaven. You were the only witness
when I was on my back and begging him to stop.

I know you saw because I saw you die again.

Friday, September 14, 2007

To New York

for Marc

To you I travel south seven train-hours.
Another train passes close, carrying limestone north,
on its side it says NO PRESSURE RELIEF DEVICE
in my handwriting. I catch seconds-worth of seeing
houses growing next to the track,
a tree crooked from the constant vibration
a fence broken and never repaired
a lost cow, heavy and alone.
I catch the seconds in between, over
and over. I write you what I am growing into,
What I need and what I’ve taken.
Everything heavy has a name and
what I suffer, you suffer too.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Woodpile

Well that’s what critics do, he said, and then
I’m hungry. And so we gathered what we had to eat
into the bed with us- raisins, cashews and baby carrots. All stolen
because I put them on my scholarship tab. I won't ever repay it.
But at the store it was all politeness, not like stealing at all
I might have just nudged things from the shelf to my purse and crept out
like last week, I stole a green scented candle from Lucille Clifton’s powder room.
The candle said Citrus and Sage, in a green glass jar and
I was sure Lucille had not gone to the store to get it, or
unwrapped it as a birthday present because it wasn’t really Lucille’s house,
but a mansion owned by Dartmouth that she was staying in.
It seemed like that made the stealing okay as I zipped it into my big orange purse
and thought about going home and lighting it
with my lover’s gold tipped matches
he got at a smoke-shop by Harvard, one day when he was feeling hopeful.
I never touched the match tip to the wick
because a boy on the third floor of my house had been filling his room
with garbage for weeks, cutting up his hands, talking about
cold fusion and global warming and compost. He smoked
too much weed, and it seemed to me like he might set the house on fire.
I went to see him and spent an hour cleaning his room while he trembled
in the corner with his rolling papers and marijuana crumbs. This is just
a symptom, I said, of your nervous breakdown. He nodded.
But maybe you’ll have an easier time of it in a clean room.
So I took away the trash and mopped and scrubbed. I disinfected
until the smell of rot and three-day-eggshell perfume was gone.
Do you have, like, any candles? And it did smell bad, still.
So I gave away Lucille’s candle and left
the third-floor psychotic there in a cloud of stolen sage
and citrus scent bundled in his comforter in the corner.
I went back to my room, to the soft wool
of my lover’s body and he told me the charred wood
in the fireplace looked too long- I should have cut them shorter
it’s dangerous propping them up like that and setting them on fire
like maybe I would be the one to burn the house down.
I explained about stealing the sawhorse
from the frat next door, one night last week when there was no heat.
I broke it with my hands and burned it, using a bundle
of chopsticks from the school cafeteria as kindling.
He said he knew a woodpile
we could steal from tonight. Then I climbed on top of him, faced
his very darkest patch and poured honey on him. I licked and watched
him grow in my wet mouth, pulled him through
my legs and he came in, pressing me on top of the sheets
I never wash and never seem dirty.
When we were done, he spread himself out next to me
and curling up to my back, he said
Do you know the Spanish word for spring? Primavera?
That’s how I feel right now- primavera.
And I remembered how last spring, fresh out of the mental hospital
I would go to poetry readings all over New York and yell obscenely loud praise:
I kept doing this and people began to talk about me
poets learned my face and stopped me on the street. They loved it.
Don’t doubt yourself lover, Harvard will read your work
and steal you away from Dartmouth like I stole Lucille Clifton’s candle.
Oh how you love me like springtime,
though everything outside is frozen and mean.

at least you don't scream for buttermilk every day like G-man

(roughly 2 years of e-mails written to my by my brother, woven together to make a poem)

Last night I got ass-high out in the front with Rummy
and then watched Wu-Tang Invasion on the laptop.
I was standing under the tree and the cat got onto
the branch right over my head and started attacking.
That's the most enjoyment I’ve gotten out of that creature in years.
The flowers on the tree are really nice. An old European
man stopped yesterday to admire them. He didn't
speak any English but managed to explain to me anyhow that
he was impotent and could no longer have sex- mostly
using hand gestures. I'm contemptuously pessimistic regarding Lauren
and females in general. Must go for my daily walk now.
I somewhat enjoy those, at least it's gorgeous out.
I feel like the entire house is a cathode ray worship temple.
at any given time, at least one bright
blue inferno is slow-roasting the family soul.
At least you don't scream for buttermilk every day like G-man.
When I was a freshman in college I used to go to the dining hall and fill
up a glass 25% with Hershey's goo and the rest with milk. Suck it down
like there was no tomorrow. I don't know why I bothered
adding the milk. Ray got rejected from the American Express job
he's been trying to get for months so it's back to weed for him.
The cityscape is not exciting me as much as it used to lately. I think
my ocean of appreciation has been polluted
by the feeling that it's not ok to be economically idle anymore.
Saw the dentist today - old guy with a white fro.
Asked if I played soccer - i said no.
Said my teeth looked smashed-in. i said oh.
All this after talking to me about god and children and mouth biology
for one straight hour (there were polish ladies in the waiting room,
loudly turning magazine pages). He wanted to drill
my teeth down cause they're jagged. I refused
the procedure on the grounds that I get enough natural grinding.
I go to Benninger park and do pull-ups on the playground structure.
the little kids crowd around and say "Whoa, do you
take steroids?" and then they all boast generously and try
to pull themselves up. It felt nice to be in a crowd
of little kids today. They wanted to see my
arm muscles. There was the little kid area and an old man area –
dozen or so non-English speakers crowded around 2 or three
tables playing dominos and shit.
Maybe I’ll crash their party too sometime.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


At five years old, I went to Florida with my family and wanted
a plastic dolphin keychain. My mother wouldn’t
buy it; she thought it was just flashy junk.
Flanked by glossy fins, back perfectly arched,
belly rounded up, it jumped, glittering.

When I left you woke up.
I went downstairs and microwaved two freezer spring rolls.
As I sucked out all the warm salty mush,
the outside turned to cardboard. Going back,
the door to our room was open and you were wide awake.

You stayed awake until I fell asleep.
I slept on my belly with my chin pressing
one of your safe arms
and with the other, you rubbed my fins.

It was two in the morning then and when you left
at six for your long commute, you reset the alarm clock
and kissed my face all over like you couldn’t help it,
and left me quietly that happy morning as
my pink plastic dolphin heart jumped from dream to dream.

Monday, September 10, 2007

She Was Sure

This was first published in Untamed Dartmouth's 3rd Wave Feminist Publication in the Fall of 2006. (When we were trying to come up with a name for the publication, I wanted to call it Cameltoe, but no one liked my suggestion.)

She Was Sure

She was sure she saw
in the soap bubbles of the dishes.
Sure God was there
in the vacuum’s lines across the floor.
God-sure in
the mango ice cream scooped out orange
for the kids in small bowls,
one scoop each. She was sure.

She saw God everywhere,
knew what she needed to see and
could not leave her bed with so much
God dazzling her eyes, this
Mother full of grace,
this Mother full.

She called the priest to come
and her children did not know why
Mommy stopped doing the dishes.

She stayed in bed sure
despite her husband,(he had an orange pill bottle:
For the treatment of seeing God
in bed all day and
because all night long awake
you know everything.)

She was sure sent
from God everywhere
until the kids came, scared.
Mom, we need you.
Take please pills from these crying hands now.
Forever and ever,
till kingdom come.

Now she does the dishes everyday.
Gets out of bed at six every morning
and swallows pills.
Goes to church on Sunday but never
talks to God. Sings in the choir
but doesn’t remember
when she was sure.
She was so sure.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

For The Snow Man

Please see The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens.

For The Snow Man

by Rena Mosteirin

Behold the poems as they come up
Waterlogged and distant, slapping and surfacing to breathe
In the September sun;
I do not see any other way

To regard the ocean’s rough lace and whale-swish-spray;
Their sound is the sound of lungspace
Full of need for oxygen, for a few words repeating;

These mornings alone with my empty horizon,
I do not see any other way.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dead End Columbus

By Rena Mosteirin

My grandmother was born on the fourth of July, she
passed her mental illness down to my mother
but cut her out of the will. I was born
with my mother’s paranoia. My birthday is the day
after Flag Day. But no one cares about Flag Day.

People like Memorial Day
because they get to take off from work to remember.
I saw a car license plate that said prisoner of war in small letters
all stacked up on each other to the right side of the license plate numbers.

A prisoner somewhere in this state made that license plate
and I wonder if he felt an affinity for the person
who had been a prisoner in another country’s method of chains
and locks and stone and metal and wood and water and windows.

I am a slave-ship even though I want to be an explorer.
If I was on the ship with Christopher Columbus
I would have told him: this isn’t India.
Then there would be no Native genocide
and no Columbus day.

I would have whispered into the sea-wind;
America is a dead end, Columbus.
I want to go home.
But you know Columbus wouldn’t have listened.

If I was the Santa Maria nailed
together and broken and fixed again
I might try to hit the shore too hard
for my hull to handle, and I would split
right down the middle, I’d
Crack and bloody all my wood bones
Pop my nails out
and as the water came in the windows
and I started my stone-sink to the bottom
and all the sailors took planks
for themselves, I would show them fireworks
and I would sing them pain.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spam Poems

When I was Cynthia Huntington's TA I asked the class consider
the poetry of spam e-mails. We read spam aloud. It was brilliant and boring and everything spam tends to be. Favoring the absurd, such as Reuters scrambles over the ones which boasted Viagra-style-enhancement, I came up with some poems that I wrote using no lines of my own, just lines from spam e-mails I received. Two of these are in my thesis. Can you guess which two?

Best USA pharmacy discounts

We will help you be the best with your girlfriends
Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears
our present for your health
your own Confidential purchase Oscars race
as a roadside bomb strikes a civilian car
while countless others were wounded in a car bomb attack
by U.S. military. The Academy Awards are such a favorite,
When you make a sporting event out of killing the nominees
to draw attention to the U.S. military standard procedure
since at the border yesterday at least three civilians were killed.
The military's statement on Saturday, that
Mr. al-Hakim was not singled out.
The vehicles met specific criteria for death
Mr. al-Hakim was not singled out
for his performance in Little Miss
Sunshine say broad-based US terrorists
during Saturday morning raids.
The military's statement on women and children will be
hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, who neither conducts operations nor detains people.
U.S. military troops arrested Mr. al Hakim who said
the 79th Academy Awards will air
in the southeastern Baghdad district
30 minutes later. In a separate incident
five civilians were killed and six security detail after a trip in Iran
U.S. Embassy on Friday said what al-Hakim wins for is
"Volver" and Iraq and war-torn Iran and the United States and the award for
Widespread and incoherent ladenspelling, terrors publicist.
the award goes to
Widespread and incoherent binladen spellingerrors errorist.
and the death toll is

Sea Lions Banned in the United States

Oregon, Washington and Idaho
applied last year for federal permission to kill
some of the more troublesome California sea lions,
saying they have exhausted their options;

The relationships between the people of this country
and the more troublesome California sea lions
have been marred by centuries of discord, conflict, hurt and tragedy.

Sea lions were called
thugs with no soul
at a Capitol Hill news conference on Friday.

The same tactics have flopped in the past
against the sea lions, who, like the manatees,
are federally protected and seem to know it.

Sea lions to plead the Fifth before Senate panel
reports Reuters from the sidelines of a conference in Portland.

Almost no one on the panel supports the idea
that the materials the seal lions deleted were vital
to the task of parsing out their evil-doing.
The sea lions who do know deny everything.

Mail In Your Payment Today

Continuing his inspection, he produced a piece of pork fat,
a packet of herring, butter wrapped in wax-paper, and about two dozen hard-boiled eggs.
Each month, 50,000 Iraqis flee their country.
Let them set the chafing-dish upon the floor, and go.

The hissing soon stopped.
You have zero width and height,
in springtime next to grass and moss.
Mail in your immediate bipartisan solution today.

He did not like the idea of being sold for such a high price.
It's all loose ends. Mail in your payment today.
I waited until the steam-demon drew a bead on me.
Not human hair, but actual pelts, resembling in various patches
jaguar, tiger, bison, zebra, and polar bear, among others, in a crazy patchwork.

Some are forced out of their homes by armed men, while
faintness constraineth me to measure out my length on this cold bed.
Let them see my face.

These Bones

At ten she began her television
punkd and poprocked
denied her cocaine calling
wildlife in west hollywood still spending
obscured her diamond mind
heavily partied made bogus
excused actions suffered and fashioned
licensed copyrighted detailed trademarked
rises triumphant, the recovered bulimic-
these bones, queens of hot wild, don't need a boyfriend.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


This poem was published in the Fall 2006 Stonefence Review and referenced in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine in an article around the same time.


by Rena Mosteirin

We can look at pictures of your brain
together, you said,

but I got a strong drink
instead of keeping my MRI appointment.

Mike’s death was made of glass
I can see clear through it

to the silent middle nightmareplace
in the middle of the night.

Girls are bad at math, except lesbians.
Being bad at math costs too much.

Being a woman costs too much,
I’m not going to buy any of it anymore.

We’re all on payroll, but you darling have everything
white-man-worth and young and you.

I am worth less-- a woman of
mixed blood-- half-Cuban, half-crazy.

Today you went to see
about your car- the one you can’t afford anymore.

I don’t care what it looks like, I tell you.
But some nights you watch me change my clothes five times;

This looks stupid…This looks stupid…
Does this make me look fat?

(No darling, I say, no one is allowed in for a look at my brain.
Let’s live heavy and uncertain.)

I don’t want to know what’s wrong,
please don’t let that mean we will always be afraid.

When my favorite homeless man, who goes by Waterhead
stopped me on 14th street and 3rd avenue and asked

why I was crying
I just kept walking.

When Mike died in the middle of the night, I was 19.
I can learn how to live on the other side watching, but why?

His wintrydead lips
kiss brokenglass sharp.

Later on that afternoon I felt bad for ignoring Waterhead
and I sat beside him on the warm subway grate

that lifts his meaty and old stale marijuana smoke smell
above the cold sidewalk. He asked me if I wanted to get high

and I said, No, and then I said Waterhead, what do you want?
What do you really want, more than anything?

He puffed a little on his joint to get it started,
and smiled and said strawberrymilk
and we sat there in the pink glow of the word.

When I got home to you darling, we climbed
up the ladder to the roof and I thought (like I always do) about jumping

(it has to look like an accident or else
everyone will blame themselves)

as you smoked a joint beside me and asked where
I wanted to go to dinner.

How about a hungerstrike?
How can we eat darling?

(Tell me how to taste the bread
baked in the ovens this war keeps hot)

and wouldn’t you like
me better if I stopped eating?

But Sally my psychiatrist says,
Rena, you must let yourself

have this relationship,
so instead I say,

Baby, what do you really want?
What do you really want, more then anything?

and you smoked that joint hard, frowning
into your exhales and then you answered;

I want to be there for you in the middle
of the night. And if I can't be, I want
you to not feel so much sadness and loss.

The sun was going down
and we sat there in the pink glow of the world.