Edward Hopper House at Dusk

Niagara roars beneath her cement window
eating the night with its powerful mist
barreling thunder, escapading cascades.
Her constant companion,
the river washes over the night
—ravenous and surging—
embossing landscapes with its power,
luring her to this tower—
this home upon its bank
this castle where she frees herself
night after night
deep in the beat of Niagara’s feast.


Brenda Warren 2012

Check out The Mag for more pieces inspired by Hopper’s painting. The painting reminded me of this building above Niagara Falls in New York. Each time I visit, I imagine living in the building. That imagining added inspiration to today’s Mag.

Above Niagara 2011

gauzy angel

He wraps a gauze cocoon round her toes
calves, knees, thighs, hips, belly, and breasts—
covering her upper lip, silencing her brittle tongue.

Next, a layer of ground parrot feathers
shed in captivity on the floor of the
the bird room in their pet-drenched home.

After feathers, bear hair—black moss
pulled from Montana’s tall knowing pines
round and wound with gauze
covering her rough trunk.

A few austere barnacles,
scraping her memory’s walls,
burnish a flinty blur.

She’s grateful for the softness of gauze
cocooning her chalky skin
with feathers and bear hair,
ameliorating her spirit,
arousing the ever-present potential of wings.

Brenda Warren 2012

Visit The Sunday Whirl.

wafting via Margo’s prompt

Virginia, Minnesota is one of a handful of cities in the United States heated by steam that runs through pipes below the city. People park in alleys in Virginia, as the pipes run beneath them. Steam rises eerily from the alleys on wet winter’s eves, melting shovels.


For years, steam from beneath Virginia’s streets
seeped into my grandmother’s buffet
where tight walnut drawers trapped its ever-wet scent
in a sea of her linens from Finland.

Today, the drawers open to an olfactory ovation
as inklings of my well-loved child self waft out
amidst trapped steam and my grandparents’ spirits.

Every time I open the drawer,
intense physicality threads tangible waves
through my torso, and a reverie rises,
breathing in ancient expressions
of self.

Brenda Warren 2012

Margo Roby asked participants in her weekly Tuesday Tryouts to write a poem about self. This developed from that idea. The melting shovels are a marriage of surrealism and hyperbole. The alleys aren’t hot, but they are warm enough that snow does not stick to them, and they are all paved. Some of the alleys are named half streets, for example 8 1/2 Street South, where my cousins grew up.


The Circus With the Yellow Clown, 1967, Marc Chagall

Voices dance blue circles around his head
whispering their lemony secrets
beneath his clown-capped curls.

flowers and chickens
and handcuffs and fish
a man with his arms raised
his hands tight in fists

An audience of bobbing heads
applauds the shenanigans
and yellow begins to drip from his curls
down his nose, cross his brow
and into his normally so blue eyes
now swirling in voices round his head
and dripping cerulean
between the yellow lines of gingham
ruffling his clown suit collar.

He hates it when this happens.

Brenda Warren 2012

For The Mag.

raining angels

Your secret touch eases
the clatter in my mind,
feeding crocuses
down to the flowering sound
of stillness—
where your hands open windows
that color the marrow of our grief
as rain swings in with its massive hips,
misting our faces
in tracks of tears
like drops down glass.

Perhaps your touch awakens angels
who swim through open windows,
riding in on the rain.

Brenda Warren 2012

Visit The Sunday Whirl.

Lemons and Plantains

Paul Gauguin The Meal 1891

Sadness washes down Benita’s features
as her brothers’ eyes try to salve her spirit.
On this day of celebration,
she watches Miguel kiss his new girl
and starts to think of all the ways
that he might die.

Emptiness rushes over the life she’ll never have
as she reaches for the knife. Diego grabs her hand
and holds it in his own beneath the white cloth
that skirts abuela’s table laden with lemons and plantains.
Benita shudders, as Diego squeezes her hand.

Brenda Warren 2012


Visit The Mag for more offerings inspired by Gaugin’s work. Thank you to Tess for the inspiration.

Pinot Wordled

for The Whirl

Sometimes, when I drink almost too much wine,
but never quite enough
I view hamburger soup like it is a gift from the goddess—
sacred and blessed with little hot pepper demons
added to spice up the broth that the devil swims through.
With elaborate intention, he burns holes in my throat
and makes me want to scream “Holy Shit” right out loud
in the middle of red burning river of esophageal spasms—
indigenous to this damned old body’s caverns
with its spirits that demand luscious spicy food,
all the while loathing its later rising summit.
I eat it in ritual cycles with generic pink ranitidine
intended to soothe the acid that corrodes my gullet
pink pills nullify acid like Pepto Bismol without the chalk
I wash them down with a second glass of pinot noir
and a string of ideas cultured on this screen
using words lined with significance
a condiment to my spirit flagged soup
spicy soul food
feeding my psyche
humbled and enriched with a fine glass of wine
pouring through these words I know you’ll read
on Sunday at The Whirl.

Brenda Warren 2012


It amazes me that a group of good writers continues to grow and gather at The Sunday Whirl. You all inspire me to keep writing every week. Writing every day in April was a challenge. But it’s The Sunday Whirl that kept me writing once a week, every week, for a year, April 2011-April 2012, and that feels good. We’ll keep plugging along every week at The Whirl. A dozen or so words can inspire great writing. Several Wordlers accomplish that each week. Thank you for being my writing community. You all rock!

Maple’s somewhat sarcastic rant against Weeping Willow

Look at her—
the drama queen.
Every spring,
she falls into the river weeping,
commanding the “Ooos and ahs”
of walking humans,
drawing birds to nest beneath her green shimmering tears—
while I sit here,
barely budding
waiting for sister sun’s warming
to break apart night’s cold rear end
just a little bit earlier
so I can leave already.

Brenda Warren 2012

Visit The Mag for more words that explore the same photograph.

hope & chance

Hope is a dance with chance,
flashing its cobalt emerging,
vibrating your heart’s feathers.
With a wink and a song,
you’re hooked.
It’s clear.

Grab on and align your spirit
as you grind out the contrast
between want and do,
connecting the dots
that spill across life’s vibrant print.

Brenda Warren 2012

Check out The Sunday Whirl.

music’s swell

music is memory
words evoke thought
run through my body
tie me in knots
release me so gently
cleanse me like rain
run by in measures
sweeten my pain

send my blood flowing
flood it with soul
under inside trembling your spell
rise like the sea does
spreading your swell

soft repetition
covers my eyes
sifting through messages
lyrical cries
human voices with
musical sighs
pull us under inside
tremble deep your spell
music rise up like the sea
move us with your swell

Brenda Warren 2012

Shout out to dVerse Poet’s Pub for the prompt today. Check it out, along with other explorations of music.