poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In these moments that are my heart

“…And love’s the burning boy.”

-Elizabeth Bishop

We’re so focused on prolonging life
I think it’s creepy, I mean
people aren't supposed to live this long.

Well, I for one enjoy being alive.

Oh, I wasn't talking about you and me. I guess
I was more talking about people in comas.
They shouldn’t be living long lives, in comas.

My father was a doctor and said that everyone in a coma
was struggling to stay alive. They seem dead, but they really want to live.

Yeah. How could he tell?

He says we are all hanging on to life,
we don’t let go, that’s not how it happens.

What do you mean?

Death is just abandonment. It’s when life misplaces you,
your spirit is forgotten and you become more dream then real.

I wrote a little poem on an index card for you and then lost it.
I will try to remember it now
but it’s too late—I have already packed your envelope
up with chocolate chip cookies and honey sticks
and a copy of my novella and a card.
I think this is how the poem went,
but the original words were better, I spent

a few hours on about twenty words for you and now I have lost them.
This is what I can remember: Firewater seems impossible,
because fire and water hate each other. But we have seen it,
the happy hazard drunks parading

down the streets in small towns. Love’s
the burning boy, and our friendship is firewater
below deck on the burning ship
singing stupid made-up birthday songs

it doesn’t matter if the blaze
bursts, right now it’s a wicked glow
just a shine, a radiant guest, an admirer
and we are the admired. Yes. We are luminous,
laughing and kissing the inferno on the lips.

I lost another poem last night.
I saw it in my head, just before I went to sleep, the whole poem
title and all, typed up on the inside of my eyelids
(which is how a laptopbrain sees)
and then my dream took it.

I try to write it down now, but I can't,
all I get is this:

iron meaning

worthless meaning

instead of meaning

meaning? missing? iron? eye?

And it had such a perfect last line, too.
a line full of joy, that turned into a little stream
and lead me out to the ocean,
to a dream where white and black whales
swam with me and I touched one, on the tail.

That must have been the exchange,
one poem that turned into five whales and they swam to me
in the ocean that is all of my dreams, where the poem
might wash up on the shore someday

and I will pick it up with my whaletouch hands,
dry it off and bring it back, maybe it will keep
if I cling to it somehow, cut through the skin of my dreams with the poem
still in my hands, still read-able
to type on the computer, awake and real,
real hands that will never touch a whale.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heart-Rot and the Dynamite Shack

This isn't a giant maple, it's just got heart-rot
so the inside's hollow, see in here, and these knobs
grow out like that because the tree's all fucked up.
You ever get heart-rot?

Here's the dynamite shack. Back when they blew up everything
around here, this is where they kept all the dynamite
so it wouldn't get wet. Found a dead deer in there one summer,
a whole deer, except for it's skin.

See how this tree was all wrapped in barbed wire,
and one day the tree just started to grow over it. See here,
now the rusty barbed wire is just part of the tree. That’s the opposite
of heart-rot. Someday these trees will eat the dynamite shack too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nick Trail's Thumb

Please buy a copy of my novella Nick Trail's Thumb, available now through Kore Press!




Or come to a reading and buy it there. Check my website for reading dates and times.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Blue Jays

The blue jays are eating the decorative corn
we put out front next to the pumpkins, that’s the last thing
I jotted down at home. Now I am on the train
going south to New York. Out the window there are colorful clothes
in piles in the woods and a place where someone hung up a bed sheet for privacy.

We’ve already had the first and second snow.
There’s a blackbird shaped speck on the window next to me.
I watch the trees and fields and mountains and river
pass quickly making lines in my sight
like a record spinning on parallel lines that are really songs.

The black speck on the window
fools me sometimes into thinking that it’s a bird
keeping pace with the train. I haven’t even left Vermont
and already I am looking forward to coming back,
when the train pulls me into the station and you are you,
I know how it will feel, that hour and that sound.

Monday, November 10, 2008


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Monday, November 3, 2008

Diner Poem

Kids ask for made-up things in their funny little-kid voices,
exactly the way birds would if birds could talk
and make-up things. I saw a blue jay this morning in the backyard.
He looked like he had snow on his tail
but all the snow from last week melted away
and of course, the melt-water froze so things are slippery,
and maybe that’s just the way a blue jay tail is. Dark blue with white spots
like a slice of blueberry pie dolloped whipped cream,
or the emerald Atlantic and snow.

I am sketching wedding gowns on my napkin
because in May I am going to be a bride. A young bride.
I write: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
That is not a poem. I have syrup on my fingers
like all the other diner poets before me.
The fat lady behind me is really excited about the pie:

Did you see that pie? He just brought it out.
Yes, bring it right over please.
You’ve just settled more questions then the United Nations, my friend.
I just called Jack about the blueberry pie, Fatlady says
as she clicks her phone shut. He’ll be right in. Did you hear there was a fire
in White River Junction last night?

I am sitting at the diner alone, listening
to other people’s conversations and pretending they’re my conversations
and they could be. The woman in the booth behind me is no longer
talking about pie:

Yeah, it makes a difference that you slept with her.
Just saying.
What do you mean I should have gotten the eggs?
What’s wrong with French toast and pie?

Then her Jack walks in for the pie and she’s all excited again.
Jack walks straight up to the counter and it makes me happy,
even though I am not Fatlady and this is not my Jack.
It is way too easy to sit in a diner alone with coffee and pretend
the life you’re listening to is yours.
I want them to talk more about the fire last night, but they don’t.

I take the money you left on the table
and walk to the counter. I was hoping
that if I stayed here writing poems
on napkins it would lead to something profound.
But this poem just wants to be wanted
like a warm blueberry pie, a pie so blue and so beautiful
and smelling so good, that it’s worth calling your Jack,
and he comes. A pie more important then a fire.