poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Teenage Moose on the Highway

What’s your favorite animal?
I asked a four-year-old girl
and she said, a baby deer.

The last time I saw Baltimore Jack
he called my attention to the people sitting at the next table:
They biked here, they got the gear, the helmets, the sweat

and they’re not even talking to each other, he yelled,
they’re just looking at their cell phones. They can’t stand each other!
What is this? Calm down, Jack, I said,

can’t you see we’re trying to do business? Last night I saw
a teenage moose on the highway,
all legs and slender tripping, through the mountains,

we drove for hours listening to 90’s music
eating bags of candy and potato chips.
Baltimore Jack is dead.

I read his obit while watching a video where Ana, topless
linked arms with other topless girls
black letters slick on their bodies/ no more indigenous genocide—

is that a moose on the highway? Don’t hit the moose.
Behind Ana there’s a row of riot police//a plastic shield at her back
just before the canister of teargas explodes

and you can’t see the women anymore
and you know they can’t breathe.
The moose isn’t fully-grown.

She wobbles on her big, new legs.
Someone you love is being choked by the police tonight,
and Baltimore Jack is dead, which is to say, he is still moving

and the problem with forgetful medicine  
is that when it stops working, you have to stop the car.
And it’s no good comparing him to Jesus. Look what happened to Jesus.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Music

They sounded like radio static. Spinning in a hum pattern spin.
They sounded like trains, helicopters.

A swarm was shaped like the dome of the planetarium
and there were as many on Earth as there are stars in the sky:

they were scattered, like stars are scattered,
and when they got together it meant something.

Once there were bees in my hair.
My legs were itchy with stings.

I knelt on a bee during mass. The lump that pushed out
was Calvary, the bee died there, stinger stuck, last of his kind.

Now my legs are itchy with trains,
with planets. Bees had bad breath, I remember that.

New music sounds like bees, after they went extinct
we realized the math their music made was necessary.

So we don’t forget what bees sounded like,
we make music with lawnmowers and landscapes,

helicopters and modal logics. All these
wings in my hair, they’re giving me a headache:

that’s just what it was like to be stung by a bee,
that and more. Joyful poison. Bees were flying bits of texture.

Velvet randomness.
The bees gave us math.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Providence, RI

Let the knife go
at the red plastic ties

another section of blue tarp comes down:
last night I pushed back the curtains

to get at some city dreams,
then too much night came in

and this morning I dreamed I was blind.
A cloud full of lightning

calls another section of blue tarp down
and I can see the edges of what they’re trying to hide.

Two medieval harps with different faces:
first the mild lion, with locks brushed to the sides
of his big face like Shirley-Temple-curls.

Watch as she raises her small, German hands to the strings.
I ache to join her but I don’t know how to touch
the lion face or the dog.

My song isn’t ready yet,
still just the slip of a fish
through silent water.

The second harp features the dog, smiling too much
at the senseless music of it all;
birds, running water, metronome heartbeat.

Use two fingers, and the thumb, like this,
it’s not a trick but a craft:
touch the harp the way you would like to be touched.

Swoops the crow out my window,
clearly structured, theoretically motivated,
the whiff of cherry Chapstick,
singing the medieval prisoner song—

tell me, what are the consequences of changing the equation?
—the ad-hock ethics of cherry Chapstick;
skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer
leeward, windward, and the swoop

of the crow, natural vs. un-natural
knowledge of his chapped lips at my mystical windward,
his leeward wasted, that lean bird-muscle music
not dog nor lion did make.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Barbed wire electric fence breaks
in the bend
wire crackles and throws sparks

—the way the light catches
on the side of the whitewashed church
just before the sun goes down—

toward the dry wood
the pinecones and needles:
the break makes the fence alive.