Brown Sugar

Brown sugar, strap me down
Black my eyes, paint me clown
Lobotomize my heaving
Your needles trim this slack
Lift the edge from my back
Brown sugar, keep deceiving
Let loose the rubber straps
I’ll fall into your lapse
Brown sugar, cease my grieving

Brenda Warren 2017


The NaPo prompt asked that we write a nine line poem, and provided several forms that we could chase. I chose the Balassi Stanza which has a specific rhyme scheme and syllable count.

aadbbdccb / 667667667

This started as a poem about a circus side show, but forms almost always force something other. It became a poem about heroin addiction. I looked up nicknames for heroin, and chose brown sugar for this piece. Heroin draws people in and kills them. I’m thankful that I never tried it in my youth, and now I am wise enough to avoid it.

Forms provide fun word play. Even though this is dark, it was fun to piece together.

be careful what you wish for

for Philip Seymour Hoffman

Relief becomes addiction,
a gutsy routine,
needled into flesh.

It plucks your empty body from the flow.

Heroin rings around the rosy,
rippling your trunk as it
lists toward a needled stream,
craving escape from the dream.

Ace in the hole.

Be careful what you wish for,

struggle no more.

Brenda Warren 2014

Chasing Facebook

Cloak life in blue butterflies.
Pursue it like Venus,
wild, sometimes cruel.

Love it to addiction,
built inside screens of light,
a beloved prison
a kaleidoscopic lens
to skirt the real world.

Hovering digital spies parse through social media.
Algorithms search for a marketing niche.
Everything on Facebook is colored with sidebars of cash
proclaiming gods of commerce supreme.
Keep clicking.
Keep coming back.
Search for goods.

It’s almost Christmastime.


The person who dies with the most toys,
still stops breathing.

Brenda Warren 2013


Visit The Sunday Whirl

The Drunkard

Gravity pulls hard on the drunkard,
shifting time in alleys.

Prophets born in bottles
spin circles around the edge
of everything he never was
as expected whatnots thunder in his ears,

He binds his back to brick
and trumps his dreams,
sliding into blackness.

Nothing mends his world
like tomorrow’s waiting dog.

Brenda Warren 2013


Visit The Sunday Whirl

Jonesy’s Monkey

Jonesy wished for a monkey.
to run chutes and ladders
through her veins.

Riding away to wonderland,
she’d lie in the valley below,
sailing through nothing but nothing,
waking with no urge but more.

Brenda Warren 2013


Miz Quickly says “Change your name and one other thing about yourself. Begin a poem “(your fictional name) wished”…whatever this new person would wish for.

I changed my name to Jonesy and became a burgeoning heroin addict. Kind of a dark nursery rhyme of sorts.


staggering in the marrow of her addiction
she misses the moral of every story told
brief snatches of coherence
sorrow flows through her broken blood
humming the songs of her life
dancing inside the worthy morrow of Neverland
where her children lie buried in yesterday’s dusk
while she mates her life to a needle’s destiny
forever sunk in dreams half sung

Brenda Warren 2012

The Sunday Whirl words pulled me to a dark place. I am ever thankful that this is not the life I live. It is day 8 of NaPoWriMo, and thus far, I’ve made it—a poem a day. It’s been a fun journey. Thank you for dipping your toes into my river of words.