poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

the polish bar

Your mother says, go to the Polish bar
down the street, that’s where all the young people
go on Thursdays. Kathy from the deli,
she goes every Thursday night—
stop picking your nose!
You’ve got to stop that immediately!
Your father laughs. Does it taste good?
He doesn’t know why your mother wants you at the bar.

Who does she get it from? Your mad mother cries.
From you, who eats his toenails!
What you’re doing right now is something despicable,
a work of the Devil. And you’ve got to pray on that.
Your brother does evil in his sleep.
It is the work of the devil! Pray! Pray!

Central park is filled with orange flags now
like warnings—this is what it will look like
when the park is roped off for construction
of strip-malls and superstores. Kathy from the deli
doesn’t pick her nose. She invited your brother
to go on Thursday night to the bar, but I told him not to go there…

Yesterday in Manhattan you went to a music shop
with your brother, asked if there was a bathroom.
Your mind was filled with orange
flags—The Gates—still, and the voice of your mother.

One day they will sell the park too
is that what this art is supposed to mean?
No public bathroom here, sorry.
The park will be full of buildings like this one
where you can’t even use the bathroom if you don’t buy something.

The old Italian man behind the counter looks like a girl
you used to smoke cigarettes with down by the river
who spoke lovingly of Italy, and of her father’s music shop.
You tell her father the name of the river
he lights up like a match was struck on one of his smooth cool guitars.
Bet he’s never seen her smoke a cigarette or pick her nose.
He gives you the key to the bathroom. You say thank you.

You don’t write poetry anymore.
You can’t even read. You don’t speak Polish.
When you ask, well drunk, how much you owe
they don’t tell you just give you another beer.

Lisa-Lisa Listless and Sarah Sit-Still and Doctor Disease
all tell you to drink up
they have been here drunk for years
kept getting drinks they didn’t want
waiting for the bill, while one, long ago desperate
tried to sneak out the bathroom window and was shot.

It was a stray bullet from a gang member
trying to scare an old lady looking at him the wrong way.
She thinks I eat too much pie, he thought.
Pulled out his gun randomly just to scare her
squeezed off a shot or two and
just like nothing killed Shelly-Sneak-Out-The-Window
then his cell phone rang so he didn’t hear her yell or fall
he lit a cigarette and spoke loudly to his Daddy
while the ladies at the bar talked about loosing Shelly.

I guess that’s what you get when you don’t pay.
So you all stay, waiting as the
pretty bottles go back and forth between the glasses
and the old wood shelves, the bartender never gets tired or curious,
he makes drinks for years and years until the money you came in with
is not enough anymore.

Holding drinks in pretty hands
with rings and painted nails they say
Hello Hello Hello again, Hello you- over and over introducing themselves.

Every Saturday night is the same. Saturday night is everynight.
You decide to live here, where the
glasses clink clink clink
like words in another language you knew once and then forgot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Rena,
Like this one alot, you are amazing!