How Can I

How can I breathe?
How can I be?

Dropping dead in front of my students has never been a fear

until today

You three young people who
I love
more than my brother
more than my cat
more than Harold Chenille

You laugh with me
You read with me
You cry with me
You cook with me

You share your life with me

hoe cakes
sausage links
Bacon and time
Moments and

A meal
A feel
The four of us steal
(and it’s not even FriYay)

Raise your cups to Christmas
Orange juice
And us

And then…

My heart becomes cayuco in an ocean storm
Fluttering and falling
(fear that it is failing)
It races and slows

I have to take this call

Don’t let me die in front of you
You three
You trifecta
Keep my heart afloat

Purpose and sarcasm
Ripple my soul

We visit sideways
We ebb and we flow


My engine runs on fear today.
It strives to hide while
all these shiny wings fly by.
There is no truth,
only mornings
that witness
the why.

Pricing papers
shredded and shed.
Life splits into pieces.
Do you feel it?

Not free.

Visit The Sunday Whirl

Open, Clear.

I keep thinking I’ll reach this spacious place.

Simple, like pancakes.

But no.
Butter drips through blue-berry stacks that
kill the drowsy plains of afternoon with dreams that shatter sheep, baa – baa – baa-ing over faltering fences.

I keep thinking it will get easy -er.
Seek and ye shall find they say.
Knock and the door shall be open.

Nothing clears into a blur of grace
like blueberry pancakes
whoring their way to something else.
Forks ignored.

We are all afraid of each other.

Maybe we should be.

I shiver like a root in the rain

Repentance cannot work alone.
To carry this clarity disparages despair.
Hope is where expectations appear.
Righteousness replaces sin.

If we consider incompleteness a verb
this hasn’t even started yet,
so how will it ever end?

Brenda Warren 2020



For today’s piece, I dove into the Anne Carson Bot on Twitter. The italicized line and “shiver like a root in the rain” are quotes from the Bot’s twitter feed.

out my window

I am Gladys Kravitz
watching a dead girl rise.
Her pungent eyes cast a stench of black syllables
she spits at the street.
Her glances taste like the rotten apples
Lilith rued in the Garden of Eden.
I am not Gladys Kravitz
but I can’t stop looking out my window.
Slithering succotash.
The dead girl stops to vomit then smiles as
she spins a whistle round her finger.
A broken digit of Paradise.
A field of flowers, serpents, and flame.
To the corner she leaps in one bound
like a black tarp in wind.
She’ll soon be meeting Adam,
that heavenly dealer.
Stifle your needles with your head!
Carpe diem.
The needle needles Adam to exorcise her demons.
Together. Apart. We watch the dead girl rise.

Brenda Warren 2020



Written following the Napo Day 5 prompt

pillow wet with night

Rooted under eyelids
lost images of pursuit
fled through bedded gardens
where smiling sycophants fawned a preacher
who locked the gate behind me.
Deadly and benign.

Waiting for a sign
he chuckled
and looked toward his god.
Undignified and holy.
He slammed me down.

My face became a radish.
Its roots sought water through the dirt.

Brenda Warren 2020



my scrawl

Open the fold where my scrawl falls
beneath its shadowed caul
uncontrolled and unopposed.
It covets chaos
stirring currents through my sternum.

It wants to feel your heat.

Brenda Warren 2020



Jesus on 4th Avenue North

Every Friday Jesus walks down 4th Avenue North
carrying plastic bags from IGA.
Sometimes wind spirals his wispy white beard
round the tall staff that measures his stride.

The folds of his long wool coat
move in waves,
like he’s walking on water.
Once in a while, his eyes dance with the sky
and he shouts out,
spilling clouds of syllables
scribbled from his mind.

Brenda Warren 2020