Featured Poet: Christa M. Forster

A few weeks ago, physicist Brian Greene visited the high school where I teach and gave an assembly about string theory and other exciting scientific matters, and then he worked with individual science classes on specialized topics. His visit was, in a word, fascinating, but if I tried to explain the highlights of his presentation, I would fail miserably. Greene is such an accessible speaker, which is in part what he’s known for, that I had no difficulty understanding any of what he said, but I could not hope to duplicate his explanations without at least an outline, and I was listening and enjoying his talk too much to take notes. I suppose this qualifies as a “you had to be there” moment?

Some of my colleagues did take notes, though, and it was interesting to chat with them after the assembly to find out what resonated most with them. One of my fellow English teachers, also a fiction writer, focused on the disparities between micro and macro in the theory of relativity and the metaphor of how big things and little things meshing don’t always make for successful communication.

Christa M. Forster, whose review of Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars showed up here this month as the Women Writers Wednesday series intersected with National Poetry Month, wrote this poem after the assembly.


For Brian Greene, a Poem

You don’t know what matter is
but you know how to stick it
into the cast-iron meat grinder
your sister once convinced you
to put your pinky finger in.

You did it even though
your mother warned you
against doing it.

Your sister with her scrambled
egg curls and Mediterranean eyes
smiled at you and commenced
to grind away your little finger, which,
once she started, was stuck, and you

(only three and no knowledge
of the pink and white fragility
of flesh) saw what it really was:



Christa Forster: Writer, Teacher, Performer whose goal is to make life more meaningful for herself and others through Education and Art. Follow her on Twitter @xtaforster.

Featured Poet: Christa Forster

Today’s poet is Christa Forster, a colleague whom I admire very much for her tremendous use of innovation in the classroom and for her ability to sustain an artistic career while teaching full-time and managing a household and family.  She’s an inspiration to me.

Here’s her official bio:  Christa Forster is a writer, teacher and performer living in Houston, TX. She earned her MFA from the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program and is the recipient of several Individual Artist Grants from City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Information about her most recent work can be found at http://ysidora.wordpress.com.





In a mildewy booth, I drain Lone Stars
with a sculptor named Nestor and listen
to a local band thrashing in the rear
room. We’re bored. Nestor knows a spot —
an abandoned incinerator — you
have got to see this place, he says. We take
my Datsun to some forsaken ash-
wracked shell, spare boxcars stranded on broken
rails, weeds looming like The Dream. Near midnight
we’ve found the apocalyptic garden.
Nestor shows me the burnt out heart
of the place — scorched black swath
smearing a white concrete wall: trash
theater, he calls it. Who knows what type
of carcinogens still haunt this stage?
We leave and hit a bar that sells wine
after last call, drive 288 South to Surfside.
Dow Chemical dominates the shore.
Ditching our clothes, we rush the sea
blue as our tongues. Luminous plankton
galaxies surround us, shooting stars
within waves. Nestor cradles my body.
In the spangled darkness I can’t feel where
my own skin ends, where salt water begins.
After a spell, we’re wiped and return
to the car. When I flick on headlights
we’re shocked by hundreds of beached fish
littering the shore, looking dead, their slick
white bellies glinting in the quartz-halogen gaze.
Where did they come from? Nestor wants to drive.
I tell him I can do it. The wheels bump
over bodies as we head home.