poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

At the Hour of Our Death

The grim reaper stood slim
to the right of the cockpit, holding the sickle,
“I can carve anything into an angel,” she said.

Childhood flashback: museums with dinosaurs,
wooly mammoths sickle-toothed, Native Americans and Jesus,
those myths we’ve grown out of.

If that’s history, vague and vast
then what comes next? Look down—
rivers were cut into the Earth with that sickle from the sky—

flashback: the white sea, children screaming
on the boat when the whale spray reaches us,
“Make room in your life for joy,” the whale says.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Holiday Makers

1: Naturalia

The man in our subway car sings
in a language I forgot, but I know the song
is about love. I respond in four hundred year old German
separated and moved into the mountains. My mouth fills with
the acrid smoke of having
but being afraid to give.

He wore a hospital bracelet and danced mambo.
Maybe he is a distant cousin. In another turn
he could be the one giving
and I the escapee from the hospital.

I went looking for you
in the wrong place, where I found you once.
Any of the people here could have been you.
Wrong face. I mean, wrong grace. Not enough haircut.

Look for me. I'm the little girl in the patent leather
shoes and a white rabbit fur coat. The homeless man
called me Little Baby Angel.
The passersby agree.

2: Scientifica

On the third floor, in the shower, a skinny white cottontail
with a shaved head sings Frank Sinatra.
He is not a fascist, but he looks like one.
Except when my mother dresses him for Easter:
patent leather shoes and a white rabbit fur coat.

Deodorant; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Razor;
shaving cream gets me in trouble. Cabbage whites
fly through the scene. At art museums I get yelled at
for touching—NO TOUCHING!—

but at CVS I can touch
whatever I want. Curiosities. Gassed in jars
and sprayed with preservatives and stuck with pins:
excuse me—don’t hug that—excuse me.

3: Artificialia

On the second floor my mother is singing
a praise song. Practicing for Easter. Church.
Patent leather shoes and a white rabbit fur coat.

When she says the word "Parisian" she pushes
back the honey-colored bob she carefully wears.
"Holiday makers," she says. "The beach as boulevard."

The song and dance man on the train
is from Cuba. Unmistakable accent.
I give him three dollars and he calls me a name
I haven't heard since I was his most beloved child.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I Hate You Arthur Dimmesdale

Dearly beloved but seven years silent,
the first time I read him—
Dimmesdale the father?—
so fucking ineffective.

Listen, everything talks to Mistress Hibbins,
trees tell, and the brooks, some animals
hear but Dimmesdale can not. The dell is full
with suggestions of what might have happened:

tongues, multitudes of them,
become the words themselves
and when Hester Prynne slept with
books next to her bed, tales ghosted out

from the formed pulp
and took shape in her dreams.
It starts as the clap of leaves, rises up on the wave
of the idea: leave the colony. Forget America.

I hate you Arthur Dimmesdale, because you can’t listen,
because you swear that one sad music made the whole world.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Eat dirt and grow roots, Root Hog or Die
spelled out on all the windows in white paint, rainy day,
and there wasn’t anything open in the town, no lunch.
If you baptize her, she’ll name you.

She names each leaf after the horses of the rain,
after the hogs rooting among the dead.
The prince of air shook his wings over you,
rooted to the spot as the words fell

around the shape of the people, and they bloomed.
When the rain stops
the desert smells like heaven. Call her
honeyrose, saguaro blossom, coral bell.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Lineup

The cows lined up for the funeral: they’re facing the fire department.
Match your voice to the lowing—it’s all lines and breaks—
crash, crack and cow sounds squiggle the field.
Sing the cow hymn. No. You’re out of tune
your chemistry is off, singing is physics—
can’t you hear yourself? This is terrible—
make some calculations. If you tried to build a car
the way you approach music, it would not go.
At the start of the winter they drove a truck over the pond,
declared it safe: so much for the music of the rules. No weight.
Today the cows line up facing the fire department.
They know a man went through the ice. They know.