poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Longer Side of Warm

We paint hot-shaped things
in Vermont on summer days catching winter aromas
when the white moths and petals flying from the blossom tree are tricking
us into thinking about snow.

It’s not hot, but it’s on the longer side, you say.
The longer side?
Of warm.

I was talking to Ilya Kaminsky in Robert Frost’s barn (which is full of cold smells)
and I told him poets don’t need to hear. Poets can read minds.
And he laughed at me and said:
Poets read books. Books!

Books are just big national fictions, I want to say, where scientific conclusions
have no authority. Look at the Bible.

Look at Prof. B—, I can only see him from the back, but he’s leaning uncomfortably
close to the professor from Greece with those big hungry eyes. He’s about to slather
that guy in Teriyaki marinade. Okay, this is what I see on B—‘s bedside table:
a Sherlock-Holmes-style pipe, an ascot and a bad wig, which he regards as a fashionable toupee.

Or he’s not what he seems
and beside his bed rests a bong, a birthday cake and a romance novel.

Those are the options. Pick one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sugar ribbons down me in my America

The first sign is Jason who sells the books. He’s gone crazy.
He’s talking to himself now. Saying perfectly appropriate
things like
we’re really glad
you guys could make it, but he’s saying them to the air.
There’s no one there at all. The sky thunders
(without the usual space between) thunders.
Maybe it’s a poem from the sky or the end of the world
or the coming of a great and loud ambassador,
with pearls for us like:
if a ripe plum falls into your lap, eat it.
the cow who drinks falls down.
The ambassador leaves you a hank of hair as a promise.
Then he says:
Look at the word whale.
Look at all the great, legendary, gallant failures, my father and your father.

Sitting outside the coffee shop smoking cigarettes in her dirty flip-flops,
she makes a cloud around herself mostly with her lackluster
thoughts and flowery perfume:
I think he told everyone not to talk to me.
They don't really know me. They're definitely talking shit about me. My hair looks like ass.
Then she turns to you:
Does your mom read what you write for the school paper?
I’m thinking about going down to New York
this weekend to get a new dress for the formal. Everything I have sucks.
Sometimes she says the opposite of what she means,
because what she means is too fucked-up
to say. She’s trying to say that she loves you, but what comes out is:
Have you ever played a game called cleaning lady?

If I had any money in my pocket, I would put it all in your basket,
he says.
(Sometimes he drives for hours and forgets to buy gas
and doesn’t have any real money ever anyway—that’s why
he doesn’t make it all the way home
and calls me collect with some drunken story
that I don’t believe but I always go and find him.)

If I lick the maple glazed walls of New Hampshire
my tongue would get stuck in the gaze of your wealth,
he says.

(If you say it out loud,
I will hold you accountable for making it come true.)

I am a cruller fresh from the deep fryer
making everyone uncomfortable because I can speak.