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.