poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Tree Eaters

sit at fresh picnic tables and drink mint juleps, saying:

old oak tastes different than young,

though anything I can snap

between my teeth and cluck with my tongue will satisfy my mouth

but smell drives the drives and feeds the fires.

Cucumber tastes nothing like it smells, but very much the way it looks.

Cantaloupe is the smell of true childhood love.

Old books smell different than young books and you sit there,

reading with your eyes, like vision is the only thing that matters.

I can’t taste fire

it is just a sound in my mouth.

A hiss and then that simple silence: the sound of the heat sinking in.

A terrible weight of pain through my jaw

destroying the bottom half of my summer-song.

So I start to nibble the picnic table with my top teeth

and it tastes exactly as it smells. I tap out, in Morse code;

cucumber, cantalaope, mint;

someday summer will be childhood again. I half-smile

and all the sunflowers bloom and turn in agreement.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good Day

Start with a million dollars, start two generations ago

in a New York that no one

would recognize now. Elephants, yes

and giraffes. Left to your real life

which didn’t begin until your first safari when you heard the lions

singing in London/ singing keep on keeping on

a hundred years ago/ it was Christmas, right,

but there was no Christmas, only hibernation

(no orphans, only Dickens’s imaginings)

and the bears were fighting all the time, right,

then they would make-it-up with dancing. Keep left.

Who doesn’t like dancing?

When you get back to New York everything is NEW and you

crave constant civil crush.

Blonde drama. Colors changing. Hooves. Lost sunglasses. Loss. Song.

Then the dancing bears lay down to sleep

beside the white piano, turn right,

get on the ship, sure, just keep on keeping on,

or, if you prefer, everything is gonna be alright.

On the ship you caught the fish that jumped silver straight up out of the water.

You taught the fish to talk, to smile

and they would sound like cab drivers

some nights, saying : listen buddy, relax

at the end of the day if you got five dollars left, I’d say it was a good day.

So you’d tell them where to go. Left, right/ other times you’d teach

them a word, blush/ and they’d hang on to the word like a hook in the mouth:

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck./ Just say it was a good day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen

And you may fall downstairs with me
With perfect grace and equanimity.
Or, plaintively scud past shores
Where, by strange harmonic laws
All relatives, serene and cool,
Sit rocked in patent armchairs.

-Hart Crane

Something smells sadly
of cat piss and cigarettes this morning, though
two nights ago it was all blue herons
and drunkenly kissing dim-eyed boys at midsummer parties
in perfect dresses. We will dance you
around and around and behind ourselves.
Which self is that/ smelling so sadly
smoking/ and cursing at cats, when just
two nights ago it was all blue dresses
and drunk/ in the age of herons,
dim kisses, times of much
wet touches in the muck of heart/home pond
you can’t get there
unless I tell you where it is. Here’s a hint:
it disappears when we’ve gone a week without rain,
and then the sad captain will offer you his services for free.

Muck and plenty, water and turtles/ put
there in the heart-shaped pond
behind the main house, down the treacherous slope,
steep but clean, dangerous but beautiful,
so slip your high-heels off, so
wonderful to see, so terrible to touch
heart-shaped turtles take square bites
and the grass is hard and brown
until you get to the murk and then it’s worse.

Kid heroes must die for the sacrifice to mean something.
A goat is a fake kid and a slaughter is a gift.
The giver gets a chance to make this year’s harvest the best
and all the remaining virgins look so much more beautiful
(but much more nervous, more prone to breaking
in the nervous hours, and loud)
letting everyone know: THIS IS NOT A TEST.
It gets so bad, women are afraid to have babies,
so they hold them in.

Then the bridal party comes along, changes the form. With texts:
If you don’t do this for me, I will put my cell-phone pictures
of you throwing him into the volcano
on Facebook.

They make lists until they fall asleep
and then make more lists in their dreams.

No, the singers can’t walk with Helen—they will be up in the wings
they will all be wearing the same thing
and they will sing.

Drifting off to sleep, her beautiful mouth works the darkness
—ordering her bridesmaids—
Helen names names...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Rena J. Mosteirin
Eaten by a shark.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Planes, fireworks, thunder/ when America
is at war, we should refrain
from celebrating like this. The sky is too much,
upset like a child with candy-store eyes and a full-sick belly
running sparks on the neighborhood.

In times of war the sky should hold all breath/ roll no thunder
planes should stay on the ground/ children in the house/ and we should refrain.

Take the urge of run and the lift of flight
the ur of burn/ world, whole
farm-war, forest war, valley-war/ when America
wars we take word-sounds and make them flat-fast to the page
with letters standing in for sounds our mouths won't make/ burning old names
with new fire and if the smoke blows East, we dance farm-war wise,
if West, we will drink our coffee forest-war style,
if the smoke blows South, all the slave-ghosts rise in valley-war
and if the smoke blows North, all the whales sing to sound the smoke out
and the operator translating from the whale song
(the song which took shape in smoky air and sound waves pulled through the water
into words the whales caught to keep)
learns the whales fear
that war will put an end to all ears and to all music.

The crows are all a-caw today/ what do they say and why
do they turn the pre-dawn sky into a flutter of caw and crisis,
the campus into a tabernacle of shiny black squawk?
What of the long power of feathers/ spread lovely on the ground after flight,
or was it fight? It is now all aftermath, either way.

We will fill their hollow bones with squid ink
and dance them in letters, whole words across the page, our own
inky incantations mimicking the biggest crow left as he barks the sun up
from the other side of the world.