Poems by Brenda Moossy

What I Said to the Man Installing the Hot Tub

When the man came to install my hot tub,
I said, “It must be in a clearing, Mister,
‘cause I want to see the stars!”

No matter that I am in full view
of my neighbor’s junked cars and defunct appliances and that it is their custom to spill
tumbling thru the screen door.
Wooden frame slaps against the jamb.
The man (He’s the boyfriend) stands legs apart for balance against the shifting ground.
His shirt, ripped and open, the tails
flap in disbelief. The women,
mother and daughter, are drunken sentries:
boulders blocking the door. They spit.
They bellow. “Get outta here!”
“Get the fuck outta here!”
It’s no matter to them that he wails,
fists clenched,
arms pleading
“But, she needs a man!
And I think, Who? Who is that boy
referring to? Don’t he know?
We are all in need of comfort here.

I want to see the stars, I say.
I need the see the stars.

And it’s no matter that in the dark,
I am an Earth-bound moon.
Naked and round, I skim along the grass,
walk to roll, into a steaming sea with a hisssss…
But, you see that spark
from my neighbor’s cigarette yonder?
Lord, it stings like shame.

And no matter that in mid-life,
I carry my childhood fear of the dark
up-close, near my heart–a troublesome babe
I can never be free from.
In the dark, I court logic:
I name the levels of the atmosphere,
chart the configuration of stars. Hell,
I even analyze the chemical composition
of astral dust. But it don’t matter.
The voice inside my head still whispers:
“what if…
they’s monsters?”
“what if…
I shut my eyes, a crazyman comes and
slits my throat?”
“What if…
I stare at the heavens and the sky cracks wide?”
Angels could slip through in the blinding.
Stars rip from the firmament
form letters words prophecies of light
No matter
No matter
I will watch for the miracles to fall.

I want to see the stars, Mister.
I got to see the stars.



In my prime,
I could make a creek run backwards.
I could steal food from out a buzzard’s beak
an’ if my skin turned silver enough,
I could even fly.

I could stalk a winter sun thru naked forests,
screeching the song of the peregrine.
My legs were strong of bone.
My toes would splay flat on cold, wet ground
leaf and mud would cling
to my feet like fussy babies.

I could tame a Blue Norther with a rope and crop.
Swinging my left arm up over my head, I’d holler
a Yeehah and a Yippee-i-o-ki-a. That ice-cold
beast would grow warm and tame between my legs.

I don’t like to brag
BUT, in those days,
Cactus would flower
Bluebonnets would bow their heads
showing bare neck when I passed.
There’d be no telling the coyotes to hush.
An’ bears would groan like lost lovers
when I’d roll in their thick, brown fur.


Baby Pete

Baby Pete don’t come to my dreams no more
He left one night in a thunderstorm
Waving at me, grinning
His diapers sagging from the weight
of the rain. Falling off his piddling ass.

I stood on the porch
my arm caught between a “Come Back!”
and a “God Speed!”
I knew he couldn’t stay no more.
“Time to be moving on,” I said.
He agreed.


In The Beginning We Spoke of Original Love

” the children of the earth will be naked armament…”

The children are marching.
They have sprouted from the ground
mud glistening on their cheeks
their wings still wet
feathers plastered to their thighs

Chris is shaken by an unseen hand
as he spits and sputters sounds
His mouth a bloody Babel
there is no meaning in his utterance
there is no peace in his passion
for this graceful man,
there is no grace in his leaving.

The children are marching.
They are stepping with the bold
stride of the anointed and sure.
Palms splayed outward, the wind
whistles in their wounds.

Ray lies still as a ghost
and his sister and lover hover
over his silent body urging him
to go. “Go to the Light.”
He has already started walking.

The children are marching.
Their voices sing a high sweet
song somewhat akin to keening.
As if they could keen in such bright air.
As if they could howl in sunlight.

Robert lies blinded
by a blizzard in his eyes
He is smothered
by an army in his chest.
He will fight like a hero,
his provisions will run out.

And the children are marching.
The sun is burning
their faces
turning brown like a common bean
They go barefoot
Feet flattening over the land of man
over the hand of God.

Carla is slight as a whisper
Light as a prayer
She calls for her daughters
They cannot hear
Her old dreams have sent them
running in the tall grass
Rolling in their lovers’ arms

And the children are marching
No one wonders where they are going.
Or where they have been.
They are clamoring for the guilty
They are calling for the saved
Their absence will be
a grateful departure.

In the beginning, we spoke of original love;
But now, we prepare for the new millennium.


In the Level of Life . . .


The night we all drank mezcal,
I was laughing loud and crazy
(My bubble was slippin’
past the path of righteousness)
while Rat-Boy bit off the finger
of Raoul, without thinkin’ twice…
without carin’ that he was chippin’ his
front teeth…that he was bein’ a cannibal…
that Raoul was singin’ in Spanish
while tears ran down his face.


The woman who carried my name.
She earned her colors waitressin’;
learnin’ ’bout bein’ stump-broke…
makin’ a religion of submission.
She was smilin’ hard enough to
be sweet…hard enough to look stupid.
She had no regrets. She didn’t care.
‘Cause she knew which way the blood ran
when it galloped thru her veins.


At one point, I got inspired…while
I was crazy. While I was waddling on
duck feet unable to swim. I got a callin’.
A mighty whoop rose out of my throat…
gurgled up like boulders.
And I stepped out of character. Rose up
on my long, bony legs…pulled up to near
eight feet of hollerin’ hell. And the bones
rattled in my hip sockets…clankin’ like
ten years of dead wood. Glistenin’
white as the teeth protrudin’ from my boney
skull, I strutted in my glory. I was spewin’ visions
from my forehead…sputterin’ like some
Tourette-speakin’ God at odds with its creation.


I was crazy once…
I could fuck the Earth just by sittin’ on it.
I could bear great and hairy children
that hid in caves until the stars came out.
I could bear them without pain or blood or
tears. They would spring forth fully formed
without need of tit…they were that strong.
They had no need of motherin’. They had
no need but one…to wait until the stars come out.
I thought once that I heard them, outside
my door while I was sleepin’.


The woman who wore my name, she
screamed for hours once. She screamed
for the simple pleasure of hearing the
sound come from her throat…come from
her open mouth. Her mouth opened wide enough
to hold a fist, a cock, a cheeseburger.
When the sound died down, she held her mouth
open for three whole days…givin’ her soul
time to crawl back in before she shut that door,
before she shut that trap forever.



I can hear the ‘gators wail.
The water moccasins are whisperin’.
They sliding over my thighs,
peekin’ out from under my skirts.
I am not screamin’.
My name is Sadie.
I am Sadie. I am not dead.
I am not dreamin’
I go run and jump in the water.
It ain’t no baptism.
They ain’t no Holy Spirit.
They might be speakin’ in tongues.
Them ones grab at me.
They pullin’ me under.
I hear singin’.
It ain’t no choir.

Donnie was fuckin’ me.
Maudie didn’t know.
Donnie was fuckin’ me.
He said I was pretty…prettier than her.
I ain’t had my first blood
But she done had babies…
He said she done stretched out.
He caught me by the boat dock.
He felt like fire.
I was burnin’.
My mouth was open.
I was not screamin’.

I seen ’em thru the wood slats
the faces in the water.
The moon white faces just floatin’ in the water.
I said, “Donnie, Look!
Look what’s comin’ up in the water!”
He just grunted and used his big ham hand to push
my face inna the wood planks.
There was splinters trackin’ my cheeks.
He just kept grindin’.
He wadn’t ever gonna stop.
I saw blood flowing like ribbons
over the white moon faces.
They was singin’ so sweet.
I strung my arms thru the slats.
Flung my fingers towards the water.
I wanted just to touch ’em.
I was not cryin’.
I was not cryin’.


Blues for Evie

Girlfriend, you was all about wind-whipped eyes
wide open, and teeth bared through dark lips.
The thrill and trill of a holler rolled
from your open mouth and tangled in your fake red
hair. You got to ride the ponies fast, girl.
Don’t let a road go hidden. Not even in your sleep.

You can run all day on roads straight as rulers, but sleep
is the only highway for restless hearts and eyes
like yours that took in too much sunlight. Girls
weren’t meant to bare their souls to the sun’s harsh lips.
Those kisses can leave you blistered, boiled, ready
to run back into the flame. That kind of fever rolls

over a body, crushes the bones, leaves the spirit no role.
The ravaged don’t rest, not even in their sleep.
Like a pony ridden until her froth got red,
there is a raging fire or fear in your bright eyes
that recalls the breaking pen, and lips
forced to take the bit. We’ve all been that mule, girl.

We’ve all been stump-broke to one thing or another. Not a girl
that’s living or drew breath didn’t have to learn to roll
under those hips. And it’s not so hard that your lips
can’t learn to smile when they have to. Even in your sleep,
You can learn that old, old trick of lying with your eyes.
No one need know it’s fury that makes your tits pucker and flush red.

And that trash you found in the Good Book, forget what you read.
It was written by men who had no love for the wild girls,
with fever in their bones, and contention in their eyes.
They want to kill you, or worse, make you soft and tame. Roll
from those captors, don’t let them catch you. In your sleep,
plan your escape, plot their ruin, but keep the smile on your lips.

Don’t believe everything that comes from your Mama’s lips,
neither. We don’t really come from between thighs, bloody and red.
Instead, we are born in the fierce dreams of our grandma’s sleep,
running fast on ridges and prairies, across sand and rock, not girls
but ponies, wild and screaming high into the wind. See the songs roll
through our teeth, catch in our manes. Look! AIYIYIYIYI!!!!

Open your painted lips, Evie, sing songs for all the lost girls, who dye
their hair yellow and red, ride and roll on the backs of ponies
they’ve caught in sleep, first spied and roped from behind tight-shut eyes.


Cracking the Chest

It is all teeth and tongue, dirty
hands and funk, cellular memory
buried beneath the sinew of words.

Passion is the stuff that drives us.
We might rip open the chest
with bare hands, leave a messy wound.
Maybe carry some flesh
in our mouth for days to savor
the sticky copper taste. We press lips
to a warm heart, slurp it up in the cup
of our dark, dark mouths.

But science is another matter.
Note the clean steel, precision
in the sober hand, an arc of grace.
A certain mechanics is at play.
Scalpel and scissors are the wrench and hammer.
Retractors and clamps engage with a ratchety
click to splay a chest, part fronds of muscle,
stem the flow from vessels that would leave
a flood in the wake of their rupture.

The physics of the body is awhirr
with fleshy pulleys, valves and turning gears
that churn inside a larger dance. Like Ezekiel’s wheels
and the equation and tumble of numbers,
the spin of protons and the constant
hiss of electrical surges turns the lungs
into a squeezebox and roll the muscle of the heart.

When the chest is cracked and split,
only a strand of stainless steel
can pull the bones together. Suture
wraps like laces through the eyes of a shoe
into a twisted embrace. Bone
will approximate bone. Fingers
of spidery cells span the divide of space,
find each other, latch on and hold fast.


Anaconda, Largest Snake in the World, Kills by Constriction

a kaddish


It might have been you
in that dream
in that car
piloting the white convertible
like a land-locked plane
over the Austin hills…
you, straddling the white line
at 3AM, screaming “DO YOU LOVE ME?”
The wind sending your words
like a banner behind you.

It must have been me sitting
buck naked on the rolled up top
my arms flung out
my legs spread wide
feet looped behind the seat
Safety from flying
in the face of the sky
each time there was a dip
in the Bee Caves Road.

Anaconda rolls like water, boiling…


I used to wonder why you liked to roll
with me in the boneyard.
Why the scent of pine and rose
and honeysuckle sent you coring
deep thru my flesh like a burrowing mole
looking for the sweetest root.
How you never noticed that I shivered
in the heat of summer when you parted my legs,
that the scent of decay preceded you
pushing to my womb before you
leaving a layer of death, salting the soil.

I used to wonder how the sight of me,
rocking into cold marble,
arms grasping the monuments
bleeding on red granite,
could make you weep…
could make you cradle me,
rock me, singing,

Anaconda rolls like water, boiling
coils loop around ankles
living tattoo


I have opened like a bowl for you
I have split my skin like a wet, ripe husk
muskmelon orange
tomato red
sweet warm pulp, blood purple
I have moved aside,
leaving you room to crawl
my skin
a shell
I have said, in jagged whisper,
“Do you love me?”
My words falling down my mouth
like pebbles down a well.

there is no peace
there is no peace
there is no peace

Anaconda rolls like water, boiling
coils loop around the ankles
living tattoo
slipping ‘tween the thighs
curling up the spine
squeezing fat from tissue
marrow from the bone.
A stealthy thief ….Anaconda
steals my sleep like thunder.


Beating Heart

I do not rest easy. My sleep is disturbed.
There is a roiling in the water
          a school of fish, spinning
          a nest of snakes, coiling
I dream of a huge, hulking bear. The floor
sags under his weight. A wet, rough tongue
the size of my lover’s hand licks my open palm.
My crying pulls me from sleep like a leash.
                    Touch it
                    The beating heart
                    Cradled in its nest of bones

There is no one to hold me.
My skin is singing a slow sweet song.
There are Angels keeping time
on their knees by the river.
There is no one to hold me back
from falling in the water. There are no hands
save my own to bathe the swell of voices.
The river is rising.
Touch the pulse found
                    in the notch of the neck
                    the radial space of the wrist
                    With tongue cupped
                    Feel the beat
                    of fledgling’s wings
                    ripple the soft shell of flesh

I do not rest easy. My sleep is disturbed.
There is turbulence in the water. I dream
of a stone boat floating on the river.
Conjoined at the spine, my twin
rests against my back. She sees what is behind us,
while my eyes face forward. We each row where
our vision takes us. We go in circles.
No compass will save us

Trace the topography of the palm,
                    whorls of the fingers made sensitive
                    by the abrasion of sand. Chart the curve
                    of the wrist, the bend of the arm.
                    Spark fire from flesh on flesh on flesh

There is no one to hold me. My skin on fire,
singing by the river, by the crouched Angels.
I dig barehanded a cup from soil to cradle
my body. The crickets sing their love songs.
The crunch and scrape of snails moving
through sand sounds like a whisper of hope.
 Use fingers and the deliberate
                    trace of tongue, divide the sternum
                    breast from breast. Peel back skin,
                    expose the bony nest. Move back the shell of rib,
                    kiss the beating heart.



We should all be naked for this. We should
all stand with flesh shining bright as the moon,
fierce as the sword in the water.

We should all be naked. For this, we should run
quivering skin goose-bumped hair on-end like rabid dogs,
feet crushing grass, soles slapping stone.

We should all be naked for this. Gates of the prisons
opened. A flood of spirit pulsing through the streets
like blood loosed from the heart.

We should all be naked unbound angels,
no robes to tangle in rapid feet,
in criss-crossed legs. Our wings flapping
furiously feverishly driven to the Sun.

For this, we should all be naked and without restraint.
Racing, hearts bursting, a shower of sparks to rival stars
Racing, mouths open, laughter pouring out like water.
Racing Running to the outskirts of Beulah Land.