poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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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.