poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Thursday, August 25, 2011



The Pequod’s weedy hull

the barnacled hulls of the Leviathan;

appreciative and understanding

revelations and allusions

are to follow. no easy task. the classification

of chaos, nothing less


utter confusion (sperm whale), says

to have ones hands among the unspeakable foundations,

ribs and very pelvis of the world;

What am I that I should essay to hook the nose of this Leviathan!

Will he (the Leviathan) make a covenant with thee?

I have swam through libraries

I have had to do with whales with these visible hands

lungs and warm blood;

a spouting fish with a horizontal tail.

There you have him.

The Leviathanic brotherhood

the grand divisions of the entire whale host.


Sperm Whale

used for light,

an ounce of rhubarb

in the course of time,

to enhance it’s value by a notion so strangely significant.

Right Whale

the most venerable of the Leviathans, he is

The Whale; True Whale;

it is the whale some pretend to see

they precisely agree

the Right Whale.

Fin Back

a monster


the whale so often descried in New York

in his baleen, His great lips

his name, a conspicuous object projecting from the surface.

He seems a whale-hater as some men are men-haters.

a tall misanthropic Leviathan Cain

bearing upon his back. the fisherman or hump or fin

to defy all whale-naturalists in his anatomy

into the bowels of various Leviathans

the whales bodily proceed.

Hump Back

is often American. He has towed a peddler;

Elephant and Castle distinguish him, a hump,



gamesome and light-hearted

making more gay foam than any other of them.

Razor Back

off Cape Horn

of nature both hunter and philosopher

coward, Let him go.

Sulphur Bottom

Gentleman with brimstone

the Tartarian tiles

profounder seldom seen; the seas study his countenance.

He is chased; he with rope walks

Prodigies can say nothing more that is true of ye, Nantucketer.


a proverb to landsmen, a denizen among whales

possessing all the grand distinctive features

He is moderate

fifteen to twenty-five feet in length,

swims in herds;

hunted, for light.

regarded as great

Black Fish

the Hyena whale, voracity well known

an everlasting Mephistopholean grin on his face.

He has a peculiar Roman nose.

the Sperm capture the Hyena to keep

for domestic employment—as frugal housekeepers,

some of these whales will yield


his peculiar horn sixteen feet in length,

it does not seem like the blade of the sword-fish and bill-fish,

the Narwhale employs a rake Charley Coffin said

an ice-piercer; for the Narwhale breaks through.

But cannot prove in reading pamphlets

of the Unicornism in every kingdom.

Queen Bess did gallantly wave her prodigious long horn

in the castle at Windsor of the Unicorn nature.


the Nantucketer

the professed Naturalists

we are all killers


He mounts the Folio whale’s back

he works his passage by flogging him,

some schoolmasters get along in the world by similar process.

Both are outlaws even in the lawless seas.

Huzza Porpoise

All over the globe I call him

They are the lads that always live up before the wind.

Heaven help ye; his jaws in request

among jewelers and watchmakers.

It is you that a porpoise spouts.

It is you

Algerine Porpoise

in the Pacific.

he will buckle to a shark

I have lowered for him

Mealy-Mouthed Porpoise

the only English porpoise,

less jolly

quite neat and gentleman-like

sentimental Indian eyes of a hazel hue.

distinct as the mark in a ship’s hull.

he just escaped


A rabble of uncertain, fugitive, half-fabulous whales,

which, I know by reputation,

by their forecastle appellations;

following whales according to Leviathanism stated at the outset,

be here, and at once

see that I have kept my word.

This is an erasure poem which employs the entire Cetology chapter of Moby-Dick. For more erasure poetry please see The Place of Ahab posted earlier this month. I am currently engaging with Moby-Dick in a series of erasure poems as well as tweeting a line a day on Twitter--follow me at WWhaleCrossing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When I looked up

attractiveness in the dictionary
it said: attractiveness is not always chemistry. Look up
when it rains, when the sunflowers are throwing themselves from side to side,
then look down, at the ants all over your sneakers,
attracted, chemically, just look down
and love them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sweet Pretty

Sweet pretty the bees buzz beside me

they nuzzle but they don’t sting.

Have you ever felt a hundred

live velvet bodies yearning and twisting

through you to get to the queen?

A galaxy of eyes. Perhaps, yes.

Insect eyes know that every star is looking back at you

but not every gaze can be turned into a door,

some are always tunnels and will always go underground

while other eyes send you sideways

leave you shimmying towards the edge of the world.

There is a skinny, velveteen edge,

it’s not possible to see it without falling. Every eye that sees the edge

gets the look turned back on itself: click:

now the lock, click, the next time the door opens

there will be only sky past the threshold

and all thresholds dissolve, no matter how you scream.

So try not to scream

and don’t write macabre notes or poetry,

sweet, pretty and sad.

It doesn’t matter what you do, actually

they will always say you jumped.

Perhaps, yes. Perhaps you did.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Place of Ahab

The place of Ahab

the vacant post;
the rocking boat,
When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool
black bubble at the axis
the black bubble upward burst;
the coffin life-bouy
shot lengthwise from the sea,
Buoyed up by that coffin,
sharks, they glided by
the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks.
The devious-cruising Rachel
after her missing children.