poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Drinking Song

I sing the cows
I sing the wetlands and the cows
I sing the wetlands and the cows and the dirt roads
all twisted and eccentric, endangered and idiosyncratic, yes
I sing and they answer me.

I can't play cards with you anymore/ you take the losses too hard.
Every big day is the same/ every day is enormous.
Lost count of the days/ I have seen/ solemn queens
and dancing madmen. I will vote them off my island.

We go back and back and back, pulling the blankets
up over our noses as foamy layers of roar
suck our toes, trying to take us out
to the ocean where the big storms are.

I drizzle and I steal pies
I try to write down the truth before the lies come on
slow-dancing lies, come on/ just, come on/ just come on...

You stumble around all afternoon drunk on sunlight
and bad directions (lies) until you find the driftwood path
just past the zigzag clubhouse/ dense flower bushes and no sign
where the path goes. Be careful when you smell
the flowers, they are bloody sea-rosed and singing boleros
to the sailors. Look, the birds don't fly here. Be careful
or you will get lost. Be careful also not to give anyone clear directions
here or you will have to share your doughnuts with them.
Oh the glazed, coconut-covered rings, just sun-warm now!

Maybe the strangers who stumble upon this place by accident
late in the afternoon will offer to share their wine with you
and you can dump your heavy tears out into the sea
(you've been holding them so close for so long)
and now the fish are all drunk on your sad sweetnesses
and now you soar/ with the fat, white gulls/ leading the charge
on the bloated dictator-crabs/ dive-bombing because
this is the cycle of things/ this is you/ caught in the act
of ocean-worship. You would sing if you could
but instead you make sweet-sea tea, doughnuts out of sand
and wine from tears fermenting in the sunlight.

You would sing if you could, but instead you lie/ sweet, saving, essential lies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mighty Gideon

Race the waves, race the seagulls, press the starfish
five fingers deep
with the soles of your run. Who shall stop you?
This town is just storefronts of wood and paint, here
comes the town drunk in the strongman's wheelbarrow,
they are both singing.
Surely you don't run from this?
Pick a name, my girl
pick a ship and don't waste life
time fighting the constable or the words. Run,
fight with your feet. Jump into the sea. Will it be at sea?
Will it be storms my girl? A squall or a fight with God?
Will it be a man, a duel, a plank
my darling, will you die a pirate's death?

In the swamp where snakes curl and heat
rises in/visible waves from the water heavy
and termite nests wrap around tree trunks, there is a boat

tied to one of the gnarled roots pushing
out, above and into the dank water. Painted
in sloppy old-fashioned letters on the side: Mighty Gideon

is somehow still afloat as the river passes low
south toward the ocean to see the sun
disappear and the lights in Port of Spain rise,

all tropical and urban as the heat pushes through
into evening. This is her boat. The girl who talks with snakes and stars,
a new pirate in an old world.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Whale Rise

Dress patterns came today from France. Layers are all the rage.
You say so in your telegram, and the onion skin layers of nutrients
feed her who has made a house of your body, layers of walls
made clear in the ultrasound. Flowers are climbing up the trellis, rising
while hollyhocks sit huge and rich and blue, in white enameled ceramic
on the table in the front room of this underwater castle.

Silk rich and blue and white this year
and it is you, leaving knuckle-marks in the dough, letting it rise
with rage at having thus been pushed down, rise as though
it could extend up to kiss the feathers of birds in the branches
feasting on song and sunshine. Everything you need to know
you left below, carved in stone.
What a voice that canvas has, what a wail
comes from pulling this ship through to the other side of the world.
That sail cries like a baby at night, but never rips.
We'll be living upside-down soon, I expect.
What animal will you be then?

I shall be a whale.
The sun will come sparkling through the trees like an Earth-sized citrine,
and the ocean will reveal itself
as day/night/sky/left/right/roof/floor,
all of the ways it is possible to be surrounded,
to be loved the way a home loves the body in it.
The sea of animal kindnesses makes whales rise
on joy. Love is currents of warm silk
in cold, rough oceans. Love is a calm.
This is what I want for us:
to wake as whales
and to know it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Girls for Gorgeous

Let your hair down, goddesses, the pipes
play as we make merry in the afternoon garden, lace
up your sandals and I'll wear all the dresses in my closet
one on top of another, and crowns of white flowers. Today
we dance in the sun and tomorrow it's back to herding sheep.
The shepherdesses are all named for goddesses and flowers. Flower names
deceive, because it's their lovers who wilt when they are cast aside.
The ponies transport the shepherdesses who are girls forever. Girls
for gorgeous loves. Amaryllis, Rose, Plumeria
learn to dazzle but don't forget how to fly
lace up your hair and do not cry. June turns
cartwheels in the grass. The French for sea and death
sound so similar from the mouths of the flowers. The angels
saved the flowers in the springtime of their suicide,
begging the help of their dark winter.
Wild flowers, you are always everywhere. You use the Earth
to grow into your poems. Come Spring, let my loves
sing themselves into bloom again.