poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sugar and Bones

(a pantoum)

I'm going to paint an angel on a kite and fly by your window at dawn.
I'll tell you it's the end of the world
and I'll turn water into bourbon to prove I know what I'm talking about.
Let's fly away on painted devils and Christmas cookies sprinkled with angel dust.

I'll tell you it's the end of the world,
and you are equal parts sinner, saint and sugar addict.
Let's fly away on painted devils and Christmas cookies sprinkled with angel dust.
Tell that to the blood,

you are equal parts sinner, saint and sugar addict.
Go see the witch. She will know what to do.
Tell that to the blood.
If you want to fly, you must first shoot that angel out of the sky, she says.

Go see the witch. She will know what to do.
Drink some bourbon first. It will steady your painted hands.
If you want to fly, you must first shoot that angel out of the sky, she says.
Let's take your measure, in sugar and bones.

Drink some bourbon first. It will steady your painted hands.
I'm going to be wanting your soul.
Let's take your measure, in sugar and bones.
Do I have your word?

I'm going to be wanting your soul.
When the end of the world comes, will you be my miracle?
Do I have your word?
Lighthouse witches make bourbon eclipses. Take the vow.

When the end of the world comes, will you be my miracle?
If angels wore bells, they wouldn't be able to catch you by surprise.
Lighthouse witches make bourbon eclipses. Take the vow,
little mouse. The end of the world is stomping up the back steps.

If angels wore bells, they wouldn't be able to catch you by surprise.
By breathing you have cheated. The moon is huge,
little mouse. The end of the world is stomping up the back steps.
By your breath, it is the end, so cotton your ears and kiss my mouth.

By breathing you have cheated. The moon is huge,
and I'll turn water into bourbon to prove I know what I'm talking about.
By your breath, it is the end, so cotton your ears and kiss my mouth.
I confess: I painted an angel on a kite and flew by your window at dawn.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Six Ships

(First Ship)
Time was you could hear the skunks snoring, drunk
in the hollows, wearing my scarf for good luck, invention
was all new. Ways to make treasure, to make light and keep it, renewing
the value of the light in objects: rubies, emeralds, anything gold, pirate
teeth and dry whale bones breaking the implements of the working farm,
remember this used to be an ocean here, before the fish learned how to fly.

(Second Ship)
Hey, he's trying to make a bicycle that can fly.
It would have worked too, but he's got a screw lost, he's a drunk
pretending to think-up labor-saving devices, a man who's never had a farm
but somehow has a wife, and needs to keep her, so he must keep inventing,
oh the ideas that come from this man, this son of science and pirates!
Is anything growing in that dark heart of his that her light can renew?

(Third Ship)
Galloping consumption, eat your supper, influenza in the night, renewing
the disappointment of realizing that you will never grow up and fly
you might never grow up at all. Diseases come like angry pirates.
Once they have boarded your ship, they get blood-drunk.
What swords shall you swallow to slay them today? What medicines invented
so you may groan, old, learning the old disappointments of this old farm.

(Fourth Ship)
Sit, sew, snore. Time was you wanted to live at the lighthouse. Screw the farm
with it's promise of salvation. Make a bicycle built for two. Learn to renew
childhood dreams of going to sea. But you let go of the rope. Not an inventor,
not even in your day-dreams, not even in your night-dreams are you allowed to fly.
Someday you might be free. Maybe when you are older, when you are drunker,
grab on to the Northern Lights and fly, fly my drunken pirate.

(Fifth Ship)
Grab on to the rope, you collection plate pirate.
The church is drowning. Slip it round your neck. A new roof over at the farm
is needed, a roof and a hook to hang you on, you old drunk.
Kill you now, but the church needs a new cemetery, old one's full. Town renewal
I hear you knock. Why are you here? I can't teach you how to fly.
I'll tell you something though: the Northern Lights are my invention.

(Sixth Ship)
Pirates in rum, like it was a new invention.
Time was, nothing looked better to you than the life of a pirate.
Bicycles here are built of straw. You never went to sea. Never flew.
Learn about King Arthur's court. Learn how to make the farm
run better. Learn the Spanish word for flying machine. Begin your own renewal.
I gave you my secret. Put it in your spirit cabinet. Use the Lights to get drunk.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shivery and the Stag

With glacial intensity we have cut and carved these lives
in the middle-of-nowhere school for poets and critics, royal dreamers
we drink hot chocolate on snowy mornings from purple mugs
playing records, fucking, crowning everything with laurels and cold stones.

In the middle-of-nowhere school for poets and critics, royal dreamers
we find the right song-fit, the right mouth-feel for I love you
playing records, fucking, crowning everything with laurels and cold stones.
The royal stag darts by the thick glass of the window

he's got the right song-fit, the right hoof-feel, darling I love you
shivery, I reach for you, as
the royal stag darts by the thick glass of the window
flying out of death.

Shivery, I reach for you, as
frozen white ghosts flutter down and all our footsteps walk backwards towards us
flying out of death
all of our old loves dressed up in winter weather, come to sing carols from beyond.

Frozen white ghost flutter down and all our footsteps walk backwards towards us
we drink hot chocolate on snowy mornings from purple mugs
all of our old loves dressed up in winter weather, come to sing carols from beyond.
With glacial intensity we have cut and carved these lives.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Days of Candles

Days of red ribbons painted on the wallpaper in front hall and other dizzy-beautiful
patterns. Out the window the graves in rows
each have a daisy wreath reminding you of the lace
at the throat of every lady this season, fastened with a jewel at the neck.
Days of dust in the best houses deemed respectable
because it's been in the family for years. Days of the bedtime story
that could soothe away a sickness. Days of braids,
ribbons, straw hats and baskets, hold them high as the front of a horse
slowly becomes visible, pulling a load toward the only church on the island,
one side pinks in the sunset,
as seagulls swoop their angle is measured against the spire
to predict the weather
as the horse draws closer.

Days of sewing circles and quilting bees
box socials, magic lantern shows and moonshine.
Days of sick children and a hundred different ways to say fever,
to say diarrhea, to say death.

Days of hand-made traps for every kind of animal.

Days of flowers growing everywhere and dresses of flowers
or ruffles meant to look like the foam of the ocean,
nights frothy with stars,
mornings of moons,
and daytime breaths of stardust, the pollen of goldenrod in the afternoon,
nights in wicker rockers on the front porch pretending to sew
or knit so you can hold something smooth between your fingers before bed.

Days of an intact ozone layer and wreaths of daisies on deaths.
Days of out-through-the-window-to-jump-into-a-waiting-buggy-crime.
Days of getting caught up a tree like a cat, of tangled skirts and hold on tight.
Days when the dog with night terrors gave the town bad dreams
with his horrified barking making every night longer and longer
until he was shot.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ladies Yoga at 3

The bee, the flower, the butterfly and the blue
I saw them for you/ I saw a whole field and kept what I could in my eyes.
With nothing in my hands and empty pockets,
twelve ladies are not locked down, for the next hour. Breathe colors, breathe

mountains, sky, sea that holds her breath and counts with us, and
the bee, the flower, the butterfly and the blue,
we grow trees in cold concrete rooms from nothing. We become trees and mountains,
with the nothing in my hands and the nothing of empty pockets,

we begin. Breathe. Learn this and you can do it in lockdown. Breathe
mountains, sky, sea that holds her breath and counts with us, and
a guard. He’s got a gun. And a list,
we grow trees in cold concrete rooms from nothing. We become trees and mountains,

ordinary corpses, under graves, under flowers, bees, butterflies and blue skies,
we begin. Breathe. Learn this and you can do it in lockdown. Breathe
relax into it. Breathe. Don’t be afraid. That man in the doorway is not God. He is just
a guard. He’s got a gun. And a list.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Three in Gold and Orange Tones

1
I come inside out of the shower of orange leaves/ their sound is dry
and their sound is falling/ I am a bell

or the sound made by two cut rocks that still fit together
hung from strings: architecture

I am constantly hitting myself in the same place
but everytime it makes a different tone/ so I continue to swing

I am a leaf stuck to the sleeve of a sweatshirt
I am wearing the sweatshirt/ the sweatshirt is wearing the leaf

I am the sweatshirt/ the wearer of the sweatshirt
and the leaf/ I am two orange bells singing to the sun/ two halves of a broken rock

each half needing the air and the strings and the wind and the broken place
to make afternoon music in gold and orange tones

2
and their sound is falling/ I am a bell
I come inside out of the shower of orange leaves/ their sound is dry

hung from strings: architecture
or the sound made by two cut rocks that still fit together

but everytime it makes a different tone/ so I continue to swing.
I am constantly hitting myself in the same place

I am wearing the sweatshirt/ the sweatshirt is wearing the leaf
I am a leaf stuck to the sleeve of the sweatshirt

to make afternoon music in gold and orange tones.
each half needing the air and the strings and the wind and the broken place

3
I come inside out of the shower of orange leaves/ their sound is dry
or the sound made by two cut rocks that still fit together
I am constantly hitting myself in the same place
I am a leaf stuck to the sleeve of a sweatshirt
I am the sweatshirt/ the wearer of the sweatshirt
each half needing the air and the strings and the wind and the broken place

and their sound is falling/ I am a bell
hung from strings: architecture
but everytime it makes a different tone/ so I continue to swing.
I am wearing the sweatshirt/ the sweatshirt is wearing the leaf
and the leaf/ I am two orange bells singing to the sun/ two halves of a broken rock
to make afternoon music in gold and orange tones.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

World of Pearls

Mark Twain makes hawk eyes at me.
His moustache is exactly the size of my left hand when it is spread.
Moustaches tickle mouth to mouth
I bet Mark Twain's moustache would taste like tobacco,
his scalp would smell sorghum sweet
and his voice would have it's own gruff music.
I can tell by his steamboat captain eyes, full of electricity.
(Twain and Einstein often get confused
these days, because they had the same hair.)
Electricity tastes like burning.

All day at work, she's chattering like a retarded bird:
He said I was pretty
He said I was pretty
He said I was pretty
(Well let me tell you something honey, if you don't know that you are pretty, you got something more wrong with you than throwing up in the alleyway leaning sway-backed out that door off the back room. YOU'RE PRETTY. USE THE FUCKING BATHROOM.)

His moustache is twice the size of my left hand when it is spread.
Sorghum is a grass that can be made into a syrup,
it is an angiosperm like magnolia and crab apple.

Walt Whitman slept over last night, she says
and after sex he began to weep. He said, I'm not crying
my eyes are coming.
Because she has dyslexia, she reads the word "scared" as "sacred"
dyslexia and a Catholic past
before Walt Whitman
the only one watching was God
he was watching all the time and he liked it when she
stuck her fingers down her throat.

I love you anyway, world of Mark Twain and car accidents
world of Whitman's poems, world of pearls and shells and wood beads and music.
Like the sound of the ocean at night, my love is all there is
to hear and the sound makes it possible to see
whatever you want/ in the sparkle of stars on waves/ I love you anyway.
My heart is blue and green, Earth-like in my chest/ there is room
for all of my mistakes, there is room
for your mistakes too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Fashion Preview at the Country Club

First we stand in line with our wine tickets, waiting
with the stay-at-homes, all talking to each other about the same shit:
she looks good/ she looks fat
her kid has a newly-invented disorder.
Who are you wearing?/ Who are you? One glass of white wine
each/ "This isn't Chippendales, ladies,"
says the MC/ then she says, "These women don't get out much boys.
Welcome to the cougar den." They howl. You howl. Three hundred women and three men.
They fill up your eyes with their lipsticked mouths howling.
The sort of mouths that leave stains on coffee cups and wine glasses.
"Slip that wedding ring in your pocket," the MC urges.
The smell of cigarette smoke from outside drifts in and it smells like burnt toast.
You imagine driving through a blinking field of windmills at night.
Robots perform surgeries now
and there is still so much future left. You really want to hold on
to your cultural heritage. Your pain is dumb.
Their pain won't stop screaming. The problem with windmills
is that they make you stop wanting other things.
Once they've filled up your eyes with their night-blinking-rows
you don't want sex or power or money or sugar.
The things you used to want make you sneeze blood.
You imagine driving through a blinking field of windmills at night.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Wedding Dress For The Moon

As oaks we are not sightless
though we haven't got any eyes.

We are trees at night.
We are rows of night-oaks.

Night-oaks and storybook arts,
how would I ever grow without you, my love, you are princely roots

you are the Earth-diver, negotiating the soil
you are the air-bringer, oxygenating our two night-hearts

breathing and making breathable air
while the owls beat us with their old wings,

these two stalwart hearts know
the clouds are making a wedding dress for the moon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Birds in Sunset

1
The velocity of take-off corrects my posture (upright of enemies, mine and thine)as she forwards fast and withdraws her feet. I trust female birds more. They build the nests and they lay the eggs and they get the worms. What do male birds even do? Are they the singers? The horizon line glows whitely like a break between chapters.

Chapter One: Earth
Each stick weakens her beak.
Earth is all spangled green and day-lit ocean.

Chapter Two: Sky
Everyone gets a free copy.
Every egg pushes into her back.

The eggs can't do anything. Male birds take the eggs and make bargains with snakes. I don't want to make anything. I don't want to make anything like that.

2
Clear air/ sunsetted rim/ squid-ink clouds
bruises of cotton and smoke/ laterally drifting...

The nun
(one row up)
black hair/ white hat
(called a habit)
holy bird

shrugs a white cardigan of clouds over her brown shoulders
(her white cane is scuffed silvery at the bottom)
we are flying into the sunset togehter
(even though I have not yet figured out what kind of)
bird I am.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Boost Pump In White Weather

Eight metal soldiers bind

the boost pump to the wing

the oval striated with black silver

as the lightning cuts straight down through the sky

close enough to flash the wing. There was a prairie dog

running down the grassy strip beside the plane

and as the plane sped up, she sped up

but then we took off and the prairie dog stayed.

Maybe she kept running, maybe she wished for a boost pump (whatever that is)

could she even imagine this white desert of lightning up here?

The storm and the way we are sharking through it. Above the storm there is the whitest desert

where some clouds float solo and others stick together, huddling, trying to make grey

in that sandy-silty-soup of white. Beyond there is a bright blue

and there is a vague green beneath us now, no longer a storm but land

with glittery shakes that might be lakes or perhaps huge warehouse rooftops or maybe whole cities.

We fly into a cloud mountain/ we pass plains and plateaus

A white wind shakes us/ and then we are lowered

announcements, preparations and precautions are necessary as we descend.

The plane lands, letting the speed be felt for one moment before hitting the breaks,

and out the window is the same rust-colored prairie dog

still running beside the landing strip like she’s been waiting for us

and we roar along beside her, and when we stop, she keeps going.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Before Neon

1
Many moving Marilyn Monroes/ in dresses that shine like plastic shines
and Charlie Chaplin looking back/ out the corners of his clown eyes
holding the hand of a little boy who looks like him
and Alfred Hitchcock is saying no
to the MGM lion/ drugged and roaring.
Dancers danced like Fred and Ginger,
and all the girls were pretty/ and all the boys were virgins
and the phone was ringing, darling
--yes? hello?--
and there was dancing on the other end./ In the time before neon was invented
and everything was safe/ dancing and singing:/ I love you./ Goodnight.
That lion was so stoned./ Black and white and gelatin print.
Get married, have kids/ set up your life and wait for the disaster. Pray
to Myrna, Pola, Jean, Katherine, Norma, Bette, Ingrid, Hetty, Lana, Carole, Greta, Betty, Lucy, Mary, Elizabeth, and Grace. Pray for the sort of disaster that happened in the days before there was neon to blame.
Marry someone plain, the movie stars say.
Spend time making distinctions between women and men,
between sex and that which is not sex.
The phone is ringing. Is it Marlon or Rock?
Is it Charlton, Humphrey, Clark, Gary, Spencer, James or Jimmy?
New dances are being invented every day.

2
The boys are down here fishing again/ casting into the blue and green murk
dreaming of fish as big as turtles as they say things that only Hollywood boys could say:
“If I catch a big one, do you think Ma will cook it up for dinner?”
“Of course she will,” the older boy is surer than sure.
I remember that certainty, that complete trust in the world
like I could will good things to happen. Too many times I tried
and got bored. Boredom will burn off childhood certainty like ice melting into water
and evaporating into the air. Then it’s unclear whether or not there was ever ice in the glass to begin with.
Watch these boys, they’re not even using real bait,
then the big one pushes the little one into the water
and their socks fill up with muck
and the phone is ringing when they get home
but Mom isn’t there.

3
(Hello?)
They’re constantly on the grounds, like everything needs to be picked at and trimmed
new additions made and old, dead things taken away
nothing has time to ferment and rot and smell. It’s like living on the set
of a movie, you have to ignore the people moving the furniture
and the tour groups passing through and the guy in the corner flash-flashing
so he can take home a picture of the whole scene. Everything is easy here,
you can bite right through it
and there are no backbones for your teeth to get stuck in
no backbones and no rainy days.

(No, she’s not here.)
There’s a poet, sitting on the stump of a tree. Two blonde girls jog past the poet,
respectfully silent and a slender woman pulls her leg up behind her as she practices yoga beside the pond.
(I don’t know where she is.)
You pay by the pound for this sort of perfection.
(Yes, I’ll tell her.)

Clark! Spencer! Come back! Come back! Fast
come back to the pond. I just saw a big fish jump out of the water.
Catch the fish and you will get three wishes.
There’s only one thing you’re not allowed to wish for.

4
Danger/ (says the sign)
the pond is closed/ (another drowning)
the flowers bloom wildly/ (unable to control their grief,
or maybe it’s just the way summer shines on them,
it seems impossible now to remember any other summer.)

“Hello?” the little boy says/ holding a sheaf of goldenrod to the side of his soft face
like a telephone receiver. “Hello? Who’s there? Ma?”
The bees buzz back and the pollen makes him sneeze and that will have to be enough
because the flower with the big white face has nothing to say either
and he’s already begun to re-imagine his mother as Marilyn Monroe.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Four Sparks of Water

The Parthenon is sliding away,
catch it! Catch it!
I could swim to it if gravity would let me, and
the igloo is drowning in grey.

The white gnomes lay still in their white foam coffin.
Today is a gorgeous day on the shores of heaven,

trapped lightning barks in the angry grey conglomerations of hell.
Morning and night are the same, let’s settle on noon.
A noon that has nothing to do with clocks, just sun

just white lungs rubbing in pinks and blues over turkey tracks in the snow
white veins of invisible minerals and four sparks of water

filmy layers of white
chopped white

breasts, neck, head, arms outstretched, she’s got her back
to all the major cities.Sunshine filters through grey and blue
braids of dough
leaves of sky
grass of God.

An orange mouth and a Golden Gate bridge and a flutter of cotton
passing through the sun. A spindle in a galaxy of cotton spinning threads of rain
that streak the windows forwards to backwards.
We are going forwards but I can’t feel it
leaving a trail that I will never be able to see.

One day it rained houses and highways
(little rectangles in white and black and silver)
stadiums and parkinglots spontaneous
--couldn’t it all have been a dream--
one day it rained an orange math
and cotton for one thousand years.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stay

When roads are too thin to be anything but letters,
and now that you’ve seen them that way, they will never stop being ciphers
when clouds pass too quickly and you’re going too quickly too
here you are, in the ear popping raw honey of sunshine
clouds clump together in the first level of the aerial landscape
this will be the coral, the formations that make up the sea floor
and here’s a sudden break presenting the cuneiform of highways again
and then that gets swept away too, with the myths, there are no angels here
just clouds like white trees and clouds like white bread molds
in the clouds you never forget what you were trying to say
the center of your body is full of meaning, each small breath another infinity and each swallow
makes the roar louder in your pops.

The propellers of your lovely mechanical bird
beat through the round clouds leaving them long and smooth like raked beach sand
blank sky sprees of no clouds yawn at you
sun spaces
clouds speckle the metal of the wing
here you are, at the tip of the Giant’s beanstalk
while smaller planes speed by below you, descending into unknowable Arkansas
through see-through clouds and clouds of white styrofoam and opaque mushrooms pushing each other whitely over the edge of logs in dark forests
fungus on fungus/ snow white on bone white/ blue white on winter white
on pale silver and dove grey (the color of the breath of the sky)
shot through with spokes of filmy sun
shot through with cerulean.


All the down-there things still exist
all the things that twist your tongue and vague your mornings
up here you are all meaning, all visceral reaction, altitude-intoxicated
you are all tree-trunk/ xylem and phloem
everything you think and want and are, they coalesce, they turn strong
your blood is sugar-sap you want to use words like “port” and “starboard”
as the reflection from a river like the fat in a strip of bacon glistens up
that’s not bacon, it’s the Mississippi River, as a loose snow of clouds pass
and then clouds shaped like the brain hemispheres
if they could join, a great white whale might take shape around them,and make a tail,
fins and a blowhole altogether worthy of worship (and you would believe)
lamb clouds with streaks of white and blue all the way through them
your fear of death up here is making you taste all your feelings
and fear is hot bacon.

You wish to see the whole glorious shape of Texas but already the plane is dropping
through the film and froth of the sky
the ground is grey-green and grey-brown
microchip towns send out tentacle highways
the mechanical bird tips her tail down
rivers are making ribbon-dance passes
the sun is pointed at your chest
this cloud is whipped cream and has claws
HERE IS THE TAIL! HERE IS THE TAIL!
If only the white whale could reach it and assemble!
Find this tail through the thick feathers and the spume and the dollops
the inside of a shell pink and pearl essences
the dashes and waves of a white sea
and a rainbow straight from the sun.
The sun is the eye of the white whale that is always with us.
Up here it is no longer America.
Let’s make a new country.
Let’s write a Magna Carta.
Let’s formally declare our intentions to stay.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I like it

I like it.
You like it?

I think it's strange, yeah.
You think it's strange?

Um-hmmm...
Well, do you like it or do you think it's strange?

I told you, I like it. Rena, I think all of your poems are strange.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poem at the Uptown Cafe

Sit with me next to the most beautiful limestone vagina,
she says, "I'm still there" but she's not here. Three beautiful blueberry
corncakes for the pretty little lady. (It hurts less when they are actually beautiful.)

"An ass like two apples in a sack," says the man in the booth behind me.
It's not that I don't understand,
milk, eggs, butter, cream and babies come from ladies.
Setting the vagina on fire, I realize it is plastic and it smells bad.

Broken beasts dance to the jump-edge of rooftops in every city in the world.
The perfect always think they are god-birds
on pretty plastic feet they jump,
vaginas burning and corncakes so sweet.

The best part of the naked girl
projected behind the band on the screen at the concert
was when she hit the cymbal in time with the music and Wayne hit the symbol too
as if to say, "It's not that I don't understand," but

and the man behind me says, "Her idea of the out-of-doors
is going to Bloomingdales." And the man sitting across from him says,
"Oh, okay, walking the streets." I am confused by their exchange.
I want to tell them that Wayne is the naked woman.

First her necklace (projected twenty times as large)
said Brooklyn in cursive gold and then at the end of the concert
(after she gave birth to the band on her back and had a child's birthday party for them)
the necklace spelled out B-R-O-K-E-N.

We're all her, that's what Wayne is saying. And Wayne says stop the war.
Someone on their cell phone says in that silly one-way talk:
Children are expensive./ Living hand to mouth./ I didn't say that./ I didn't even imply it.
The Norse word for great-grandmother also means: story of how the world began.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Sea Wolves

Part One: Ask the Cowboy

When you die and your body is put in a coffin, you turn into water and then one day someone is digging out the earth for a grave next to yours and their backhoe scratches your coffin and all your deadbodywater pours out into the new hole and somebody's got to pump that out of there, so they can have a nice-smelling funeral and put the new body in next door. (Howdy neighbor. Sorry about the mess.)

I bet if I read the Bible, it would be just like watching Caddyshack and realizing all the comedies I had grown up watching were based on and borrowed moments from a much older story.

Even the Sargasso Sea won't be there forever. It's not there now. When was the last time you saw it?

A nice-smelling funeral is a lie.

The cowboy works here. He knows everything about the house. He knows the family and the history and everything. Ask the cowboy. Go ahead, ask him. See what he says.


Part Two: The Sea Wolves

Feet in sneakers are washing up on the shore/ he said/ at the wedding
(magic) mushrooms can fix the oil spill/ he said
(I know the answer) don't bother me
about nerve gas, mushrooms can fix that too.
He said disco vs. rock and roll (made me famous)
and now that battle is faught at sea.

The dolphins fight the sea wolves/ the bear growly teeth and tag-team
all the way through the foodchain: dolphins, sharks, whales
and when the females are in estrus (his word)
they lure the domestic dogs into the sea, they go willingly
but not the deer, no/ once he saw a doe fall/ into the ocean
and a dolphin flipped her out/ with his snout.

That's when he realized they're all answers
I mean, he didn't even need a question.
The answer is:
disco dolphinss
and the answer is:
feet in sneakers (the sea wolves ate the rest)
and the final answer is dancing on the teeth of all the lesser answers
(don't call them 'shrooms) psilocybin.


Part Three: What is grace?

What is grace? The child asked her mother and her mother said, grace is being able to walk in a pair of high heels for a really long time without falling over. Then the child touched a dress and the mother said Hands Off.

Amazing grace.

(It seems shocking to the New Yorkers I know that anyone would want to live anywhere else. There is ample evidence that people do it, but still, it seems the rest of America is more or less a leper colony and the citizenry are living like lepers without the grace of a diagnosable disease.)

I thought it was raining but really the incessant tap-taps on the glass were hard bugs, flying toward the light I read by. Bugs carry disease, so we must be sure to keep the fear of them alive. Make it a ladylike quality, make it a condition of grace; small feet and certain, specific fears.

If you think people on the beach with you don't know the word for shark, put your hands together like you're praying and put the praying hands on top of your head. Hunch over a bit and run around in graceful circles, like you're swimming. If you want to be understood as a sea wolf, the gesture is almost exactly the same, but you must also make a distinct howl: ow ow ow-oooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stripes

My millions buzzed every sidewalk
berries splattered and bloomed with every step
I started to write a poem in my head about it
(sneakered sidewalk paintings, dark and geometric)

berry stains make racing stripes up to my thighs
when I run/ with my hands out/ catching
bees/ bees take me into the air/ my legs work back and forth

higher and higher/ I will turn into a million tiny wings
and when you touch my body
your fingers will flutter, my millions
of geometric air spaces will run with so much sunshine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No Wolf In The World

It looks just like a drumstick
he is crunching up my sinew and my saltlick skin.
The wolf has me in a tree/ he bit my thumb off my hand
looks just like it came off a chicken/ in his mouth the color of berries bleeding.

Now the next dream comes/ it is a wolf spider this time.
Have you ever seen a wolf spider? It's the size of a motherfucking starfish.
The tree I'm in is filled with them and my hair is spider hair,
I can almost speak their language

and then my heart explodes. I wake up and I lock the door/ load the shotgun
with my exploded heart (my fucking heart exploded)
though certain spiders can pick locks with their hot, hairy legs
ain't no wolf in the world/ gonna come in here and eat my remaining thumb.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Burning Out the Ground Bees

Tonight we're having a good bourbon pie and we need rain
because the ground bees are back/ they make little black tornadoes
and fill in the abandoned mole holes with their aggressive bullshit.

Birds ate the sunflowers behind my house while the neighbor burned her ground bees out
three lines of flame shot through her lawn
and all the wet little green leaves of grass put the fire out. That lucky bitch.

If this pie sets, victory is mine/ if it sets and the ants don't get to it first.
Dear God, why are these ants all up in my shit?
I'll flame out the bees myself tomorrow but if you see

small fireballs chasing me around the yard
while the neighbors sit on their porch and drink and laugh
would you please use the hose to contain the fire?

Ants eat everything that would be a door. There is no word for door
in their featherweight language. A hundred words for food,
shit and tunnels. I read that book a long time ago/ I've had a few concussions since then.

A wave of ants/ a motherfucking typhoon. A tornado of bees
dark and sharp/ with no interest in honey or blossoms. Today
it's all about empire. Spiders know the crush of my hands. Thor

tolerant of their hungry weaving/ enjoying the music of the web-catch,
lovely until the invaders are too numerous and I sweep them out of Valhalla.
These days the cows on the hill say beef instead of moo

they will know the crush of my hands too/ on the day the bees learn about fire
the wooden chairs will realize their legs and they will flee the kitchen
clattering the floor like stiff little horses who don't yet know how to neigh.

It's already too late to pray for rain (wish I knew how to dance for it)
too late for the pie to set (a waste of good bourbon, sugar, cream cheese and eggs)
the Derby is this weekend and all those fancy horses will run like lines of flame.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Every Kiss Was A Bridge (There Is No Such Thing As Death)

1
The river wants to be seen shimmering.
(Do you really think that everything can just die?)

Twisty thick arms and all
(encourage the river to grow)

lacks allow a river to feel needed
(do you really think anything can just die?)

Through the must, making bridges
(I swam it backwards)

three broken trees I kissed through the forest
(when I thought the river was dead)

every kiss was a bridge
(there is no such thing as death).


2
Do you really think that everything can just die?
(The river wants to be seen shimmering.)

Encourage the river to grow
(twisty thick arms and all)

do you really think anything can just die?
(Lacks allow a river to feel needed)

I swam it backwards
(through the must, making bridges)

when I thought the river was dead
(three broken trees I kissed through the forest)

there is no such thing as death
(every kiss was a bridge).


3
The river wants to be seen shimmering
twisty thick arms and all,
lacks allow a river to feel needed
through the must, making bridges
three broken trees I kissed through the forest
every kiss was a bridge.

Do you really think everything can just die?
Encourage the river to grow.
Do you really think anything can just die?
I swam it backwards,
when I thought the river was dead.
There is no such thing as death.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blend of Morning Bells and Bliss

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lessons from the Midwest

The lake water thickens you.
(You will emerge red and itch pesticides and pests.)

It will become necessary to practice restrictions.
(Once these start they are impossible to stop.)

So far from the ocean you may begin to believe in tropical sorcery.
(Religious guys have the worst facial hair
so you can spot them and avoid them.)

I saw a seagull flying over the Great Plains.
She must have fallen asleep on the train from Pasedena
and woke up feeling sick. Now she's flying circles like a lasso.

(I will lasso you with my shirt
pull you in by the teeth.)

If you've ever wanted to be a whale, you will understand what happens next:
armed with the ocean, I call the gull home.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saintly Rednecks With Hand Grenades

Paper bags stuffed with cash in the fridge.
Almost two grand/ the beginning of the end.

It's the final countdown (da-da da da)
and everybody's couting down differently.

Two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside
of the fields, wintercut

and scalloped by snowy ridges/ hills like little bombs
lines of trees/ one old silo and one old barn/ to so many cold little homes.

Everybody's at the basketball game (they all used to play horse without me
in the used-up coal lot over there/ I was glad when they tore

that shitty hoop down/ the other kids still play in the raw cokes)
and Ma's in the shower by herself/ glad to have the trailer whole

so she can swallow it with a song she's been holding all wrong since 1994:
What's the frequency Kenneth be-show, things have changed, uh-huh...

I am playing a game I invented myself with old hand grenades,
feeling like the father of basketball with his peach baskets nailed to the wall.

I'm doing lift the pin/ pull the spoon and swoosh! I'm a holding and throwing
those hissing old pineapples

and then the explosions/ send trailers into the sky
over the endless fields scalloped by snowy ridges like the lace around the face of an owl.
If you lived here you'd be dead by now.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Café Date

Smelling pipe tobacco smoke brown in your hair,
pulling close to you in the café
rubbing the sleeve of your sweater, dark blue
with brilliant white checks
up and down your arms and chest,
each check a white bird.
Here’s a pull, by your wrist,
two birds so close/ lovers,
pulled like you and I/ flying.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Welcome to the theater
everything you are about to hear is blasphemy
we aim for a political renaissance of confusion
the miracle will be the conclusion
in the glittering god/gold-faced future it will occur
it shall be of a daring conceptual texture and worthy of worship.

Welcome to the theater. Let us all agree on how much to worship,
from the start, we must all be believers, such that the theater
will overcome it’s theatricality and become real. The occurrence
of a jig at the end of the play will finish us off, swelling with blasphemous
miracles. If the future is boundless, acknowledged miracles would conclude
all of life’s lovely boundless-nesses, so bring on the confusion.

What happens in confusion?
Work through the compelling production of worship
and the development of a Babylonical conclusion,
work your way to this, and when you leave the theater
tonight, remember: when everything’s all in order, it’s blasphemy.
The players are shocked when expressions of pleasure occur,

the play is given to the audience as food. Then the hunger occurs,
and begins the explicit battle between actor and audience, confused,
the front rows wonder; is leaping from your seat to avoid being hit blasphemy?
Is physical pain always wrapped up in the drama of worship?
What are the protocols and conventions of this theater?
Here questions are the best conclusions.

Intuitively, the survivors are transvestites, concluding
nothing/ carnival or marketplace/ loving what occurrences
belong to the voices and to the mixings of the theater.
Everyone lines up to pay for the privilege of this confusion:
this blaspheming of worship,
or rather, this worship of blasphemy.

Is gilding the face of the actor who plays god blasphemy?
Can we at least come to that conclusion?
This is a communal act of cognition. Gold will shine and will we will worship.
God really does have a gold face. Gold occurs
in heaven. We are certain. The man behind the mask begins the confusion,
and it multiplies /as we make moonshine and we make and laws/ of this theater:

1. All theater is blasphemous.
2. All conclusions disfigure the confusion.
3. Miracles occur, we worship.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sun on Snow

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First the Fan

First the fan of baseball fields, then the blotchy geometries of farms in winter,
then the clouds the clouds and only the clouds, this one so thick
it’s all there is to see/ the cloud and the wing
with it’s blue triangle fin spearing out at the sky/ bearing us somehow home
to the urban mist of New York in winter.

You will go to Maine and I will wake up Christmas morning alone/ until
we meet halfway/ in the in-between
where the Connecticut River splits Vermont from New Hampshire.
This is a small plane and I can’t tell if we’re still over Indiana
or maybe Cleveland/ the captain makes an announcement and we squint
through endless space of sky and clouds and pretend
to make something out. Cleveland—a city we drive though sometimes—
Buffalo, the captain says now, Buffalo. Thirty-five to forty minutes from JFK.
We found a little bit of smooth air

it may get a little bit rougher, he says. Earlier he used the phrase bumpy air.
You point me to a footnote in your book. Representation’s a good word
too, you say. We are too close to each other to write poetry and read theory
Sprung, the footnote says
means uprising, in German
right? Rising up through the cracks/ I like the cracks/ I say.
Then I point down to Buffalo

where there’s snow so white we can see it shining up through the clouds
in oblong seeming-hallucinations. Snow. You say. // Sprung.// Snow in the cracks.
Snow in the rising.

Dreaming of a white Christmas./ Glad we are not going to cold
Buffalo—another city we’ve driven through, but it never stopped us.
The stewardess is old, too old for this job. Her face is funny—
too puffy and too saggy at the same time. I want to hold her
in my arms and make her young again. Young and traveling
everywhere—boasting to her friends about how much fun her job is. Now
she looks like some sort of counter-advertisement
proclaiming the unhealthy effects of too much air travel. Now someone’s kid

screams. Someone always brings a screaming kid. But it’s okay
because now we’re out of that cloud and I can see the snowy terrain
clearly. It’s no longer Buffalo. Now it’s something mountainous and curving.
White and black and gray/ and straight lines that are roads
and white lines of cut-down trees
through the mountains so people can ski in lines.

The mountains look like curvy ladies laying down beside each other
Lay lady lay, I can imagine Bob Dylan singing to them
and they sigh and roll over and re-arrange themselves when no one is looking.
And the wing seems proud now, glinting sun like the arm of a ringmaster
covered in rhinestones: behold! Behold! This land is your land
layered and perfect/ rivers and roads and farms and fans
things start to come into familiar focus again
and I remember how excited I was as a child
to get in the plane and press my face to the window/ when I believed
that the outlines of the farms were the outlines of the states
and I could see so much America

that’s how high I thought we were—that the divisions were finally revealing themselves.
There was no such thing as representation
just lines that marked out states/ clear as day on the land
I can still understand my reasoning—from here, now, a frozen lake
looks like Arkansas. I also understood clouds differently
as a child I thought we flew through chimney smoke
and only god could be up in the heaven clouds.

Faintly, I can see houses again, rows of roofs
so close and small/ I could scrape them from the window
and paste a few like microchips on my fingernails.
Soon I’ll be able to pick things out again
I think I can see the Connecticut River now
with it’s body so like a snake/ it slides up and down/ all the way under
us and out to the horizon rainbow/ where there are recognizable landscapes.
Long Island herself—a careful fish
with the city in her eye/ looking at that river, that snake
that wants to bite her head off/ but can’t seem to fit it’s mouth around
the tall buildings and all of the trains. Wake up
the city is spellbound, I tell you
look at the pollution/ like some sort of brown power
the city collects around herself. We’re here. Circling over water
so low the birds
chatter at us/ they watch and fly
as we swirl and we touch down.