poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Thursday, October 24, 2013


When we’re done inventing geological processes
we'll all just be layers anyway, same-same but different,

/igneous layer cake/ metamorphic lasagna/
roadkill squirrels turned to touchstones,

but Henry, you are made of martinis and ice cream.
Remember Tom Hanks in that movie 

about that war? You took me to the movies
the night my father was taken to jail

and all around me in the theater
people were crying.

I guess that was the point: crying with a group of people.
How do I think this through? How can I help

but look at squirrels differently,
now that I've seen so many dead squirrels?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Amerikan Oktoberfest

The car in front of us stops abruptly on the highway.
The driver gets out and vomits.
We swerve.

Death appears as an attractive teenage girl
chanting: always have him wanting more…
She tells the others girls to dye their hair blonde

because the boys love it.
Sometimes I’m told I look Chinese.
No one knows what I am:

shooting star or falling star—
aren’t they the same thing?—
it’s problematic in translation: up or down,

so I sing silly songs instead.
Mother says I ruin my face with sun and smiling:
I can never be Miss Gottschee.

But most Americans have no idea
what the fuck that is anyway,
so who cares, I’m not beautiful.

Even if the city falls
and even if your lover kills himself
even when a strange man forces you to

and your parents keep locking you up.
When you start to cry
they lovingly give you pills so you can’t

learn the Greek and Roman myths
and all of Shakespeare
and if you are still not beautiful

you might want to become a skeleton.
You begin to see everything as bone,
placeholders for souls.

You grew up chubby and mixed
not beautiful like Aunt Karen
who was Miss Gottschee.

Don’t smile so hard, mother said
so you try to develop a comical ironic edge
like an older woman in a sports tee-shirt that says “Cougars!”

or an elderly Mexican woman wearing one that says “Barely Legal”
--isn’t wit a kind of beauty?
Oktoberfest has it’s own version of everything. A heart attack

for the man on the stage, the drummer, in the Oompah band
(there was no recorded sound when he fell
but I swear I heard a thump)

it should have been a false beat
but it lives as a silent note
the heart that didn’t

and as the ambulance backed up the stage the band kept playing
yes, the band kept playing
the sun set

the crowd got drunker
the stars shot and fell
and all I could see was that you and I were to be married

and somehow we wandered over to the members of the band
on their break, wanting to get the full story of the heart attack
but they got our story instead: Engagaed? Yes!

“She’s beautiful,” the lead singer said,
“She’s beautiful, I hope you tell her that every day.”
They wanted to play at our wedding.

They gave us their beer tickets.
I scrutinized our new friends, all senior citizens:
the lead with the fake blonde braids attached to the plastic Viking hat

the one with the silver buckles on her lederhosen shining
the man who’d embroidered the Eidelweiss himself.
We took their drink tickets, got drunk and drove home

in the morning we’d realize what a horrible idea
it would be to have them play at our wedding
but I sang songs in German all the way home:

Veronica der lens ist da
die Madchen singen

Die ganze welt ist wie verhexcht
Veronica der spargel vechst
My mother should be proud, I mean

mothers are proud when their daughters are to be married
and can make it the whole way home
without getting out of the car to throw up on the highway.

Every space has a unique set of rules, everywhere
you learn to think
everywhere seems to think it is a school

and in class you were taught Lucy,
your professor was on the team that discovered her,
he said they were listening to the Beatles and “Lucy

in the Sky with Diamonds” is the skeleton’s namesake now because
they took LSD, I mean, they took
the name from that song

attached it to her bones, and straight back
into poetry she went
almost immediately, poets took Lucy

because of the metaphorical possibilities.
(Poets love science. Scientists
listen to music in laboratories and sing.)

Lucy was in the sky with diamonds
and here I am, holding the oldest bones on Earth, he thought.
Were the diamonds shooting

or falling?
And how do I attach them to bones
mine, yours—isn’t that what it means to be married,

aren’t we hoping to discover/to cultivate/to feel
the oldest love on Earth?
When I die will you keep making music

in layers over me
that will hold?
Or will everything take?

Every question has at least two opposite answers
and are both are always true. Plant nails in the ground
to turn your baby’s eyes blue.

I’m drunk too, and you
swerved into my lane. Me.
Lucky, lucky me.