poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hungerstrike

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




Hungerstrike

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.

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