poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Good, Better, Best


My feet are flippers/ my feet are hooves.
We are both sitting on the edge of the bed with our foreheads pressed in the heels
of our hands. We are pondering the whales.
I like to think about whales when I am naked. Whales
are all slick-fat, all-swim,
blowing and pumping into the mouth
of extinction. The mouth is made of net.
The whale field is always
there. All the whales alive right now are blinking. Their blood
is pulling through the enormous pressure of blubber and ocean.

Out the window above my writing desk
there is a field of lupines and cattails and Queen Anne’s lace.
Beyond that, the dull grey road and the nothing guardrail.
Beyond that, the white church with two long-spouted windows
checkered in purple and heather glass. Today’s sermon:
“Nobody Rides With Ahab”
spelled out in letters on felt behind glass,
while nearby, flanked by four low architectural spikes,
the old black spire harpoons up into the sky.
On the mailbox out front, instead of a name it says: Ride or Die.

Fat keeps me buoyant when I am naked,
once/ we were/ the same billion stars
we came out of the soup/ to hooves and hair/ some of us decided to be whales
and went back into the water.
Feels good underwater. We chase that.
We chase them because we know that.
Better to be a whale than a horse. If we must
live on land, best to breathe light naked/ with all of this skin,
with our mouths of delicate net, in the enormous pressure of air,
sitting on the edge of  bed, staring at our feet
as they turn into harpoons.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tiger Lily Casualties


1 (in the café)
At the next table they’re trying to convince their boy he won’t get hit
by lightning. He won’t—Listen!—
be lost in the flood. They won’t
abandon, they won’t forget.

2 (in the garden)
Finding you everywhere, especially this costume
you once wore for Halloween. The memory lives in the savor of salt
(and the sugar of soda, the caffeine of coffee, the fat of ice cream)
a costume you wore so I could find you

when it was crucial that I be the only one who could see/  the only one who could know.
I chewed on it like a thumbnail, my teeth working us both
raw. Am I still the only one who can see you?
Planting, I costume you in Earth

protecting you from lightning strikes.  I bury you
in sugar, caffeine and fat.

3
You could never show me
what they called mental illness.
It was a vivid hunchback
a monster-myth to trick
the why and how of your genius
into making sense to the other flowers.

4 (in the garden)
Planting, I put on red stilletos
(because they make me a bird with red and bloody claws)
because they aerate the Earth.

I wear eggs and milk for planting,
my fertility jewelry
the vibrant tiger lilies love that.

In my dream you were there and you were real.
Sometimes tomato plants grow so fast
and so tall that they fall before the gardener can stake them.

Fallen they fade
oh my vibrant tiger
lily you, would never let
anyone stake you.

Black birds fill the trees with talk of your miracle.
I plant the bulbs and they come.
Which one would dare break my heart by dying underground?

Only you, my red fox
among the ravens, always/ they watch
you still, they show me when you are close at hand.
I reach for you in my dreams

but the  birds do not permit it.
The world that is not loyal to you
does not deserve love. The Earth understands this
by letting me plant flowers, and letting you
remain dead.

5 (in the café)
A little girl stands in the center of the café waving a long white sheet
and tapping her sandals on the stone floor. The family has left
having partially convinced their boy
he won’t be hit by lightning (they used statistics to soothe him)
even though that other boy was struck and killed in Post Mills last week.

Blame the sky. You must be a cloud
to speak to the sky. The girl waving the white scarf knows.
She is practicing wind, budding  new constellations, growing wing-hopes,
costuming this lovely, lonely universe.