poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

So as not to mislead

They wear masks of silk, porcelain, brass and silver,
So as not to mislead with their own, ordinary faces.

-Czeslaw Miloscz (trans. Robert Hass)

Tonight when you are ripped open
down to the very seed, and when you feel that hunger-truth
only named in dreams—Child of This Night, know:
you are not your desires
and you are not what you hang on the Christmas tree,
what you pack up now for next year,
what you put up on the shelf in jars.
I am going to tweet you to sleep now, my little owl,
roadside, while we wait for the ambulance
to break up the night where I was supposed to be the hero
but forgot my line. My hat. Twist the brim of my map when it hurts, pain
is a lotus that lives behind your heart,
and when they hook you up to that little hose
the drug pumps into your arm, it will feel so good, just wait
for that needle, it’s not long now,
then you can drift away from the pain, you can go somewhere else,
while faceless men work on your body under a bright light.
They wear masks so as not to mislead with their own, ordinary faces.
If you should open your eyes and see them
it’s ok to pretend you’re seeing God.
Through the air thick with planes like snowflakes rising,
you’ll take those airplanes in your fists, you’ll take them
but that’s not how you’ll get there. Too cold on your hands,
the metal smell is polished up to make you feel sick, and the way
they crunch between your teeth is the sound of forgotten televisions
left on all night: the taste in the mouths of despairing old men in hats
shuffling down the street through the storm, heads down.
They will rip open like milkweed
when they get home, unbuttoning their coats.
When you get there you’ll have handfuls of airplanes, like snow, like God:
rip home your heart, your milkweed coat.

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