there but for the grace of gods

The dead man chased answers to neurotically contrived questions
budding flowers blossomed, then withered in his wake
There were bugs writhing inside his skull
They ate pieces of his brain
He heard from inside out
Everything he remembered disappeared
Answers tricked him
riddles — forever

~bw 22

Day Nine asked for a nonet. 9 words per line, 8 words, 7 words  . . .


Your body was your temple of doom. Your body was your
crutch. Your body drove your death to the front of that
truck on Montana 200. I imagine you cackled as you
flew through the air finally cheating life of itself and

If the dead could talk would you whisper or scream?

Last night in a dream a song about angels fell from your
fingers and landed on Evel’s soft padded paw tap tap tapping
my face awake. Months have passed with no thought of your
life flashing before your eyes. Then a poem about bodies inspires
dreams of fingers and angels and somehow you are

~bw 22

Using Napo’s day one and day two prompts, I wrote this prose poem. From day two’s prompt, I used a word from Haggard Hawks’ Twitter feed for the title. Fleetings are animal tracks or footprints left in the snow. A bit of poetic license at play here. I thought about powdery snow and how quickly it blows away. And how my hand went to my cheek when the cat’s insistence woke me. And how the poetic process brought a friend long gone to a dream. Poof.

Unbidden Recollections

for Dave

Driving east on Montana 200,
Unbidden recollections spill over buttery fields.
Floating like ghosts between Square Butte and the Little Belts,
They swarm through the shadows of life’s early hillsides
Back there, where we worshipped no god but Now.

Passing Moccasin, your death
Breathes deep curves in the road.
falling into patches of darkness
As time sharpens the edges of forgetting
Who we were.

Brenda Warren 2013


Visit The Sunday Whirl

Visiting Heaven

When I arrive in Virginia, I sing
to the graves of my ancestors
resting in the grasses of Northside Park.
Over hedges, children race in gunnysacks
and sail in swings. The monkeys are gone,
but their castle remains. Its stone moat
protects us from the poo monkey ghosts fling,
screeching their protests sideways through time.

Later, when I stand on 8th Avenue
facing Grandma’s house,
my spirit jumps from my flesh
and spreads itself into the creaks and corners
of that old house whose arms
embrace the early days of me.
Steam pours heat into Virginia’s houses,
filling up wood pores in floors and walls
with its deep wet scent, wafting wisps of
ancient we.

Spirit filled with steam,
I turn toward Wake ‘em Up Bay.

Forsaken through years of dis-connect,
my aging body weeps as it enters the flow
of Lake Vermilion, rejoicing its reunion
with the waters of its womb. A desire to
float into eternity toys with my senses.

I picture heaven as a sauna in the sky
on the shores of an ethereal Vermilion
shimmering early days of me.

In heaven, Grandpa tosses cups
of the lake, dipped from a barrel,
and we watch water
dance its sizzle
on the pearly stove’s rocks.

Everybody’s here.

Len laughs and his eyes mimic the glimmer
in Grandpa’s eyes, two peas in a pod,
hyucking it up in the sauna.

Dave Arnott asks if we’re sure it isn’t hell;
it’s so damn hot in here.

Grandpa chuckles and throws
more water on the rocks.

The waters of Vermillion lap my back
and pull me back to the present moment,
rocking on the surface of my youth,
imagining heaven as a sauna
where everyone I love
jokes while Grandpa throws water on the rocks.

It holds my childhood’s blood,
this water,
this receptacle of story and time.

I pull myself out onto the ladder of the boat
and up into the rest of my life.

Vermilion drips down my skin ‘til it dries.


Brenda Warren 2012

Process Notes:
I wrote this piece for a Trifecta challenge. We were prompted to write 333-3333 words on any theme, in any style. Not counting its title, this piece is precisely 333 words long.

A week from today, I will be on a houseboat on Lake Vermilion with my husband, Len. We will have the boat for four nights. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve been swimming in Lake Vermilion. We’ll visit Virginia before we head to the lake. I have not been there for 17 years. This poem is my imagining of my upcoming trip with my husband. Lucky we!

We are going to a folk music festival close to the Mississippi River following our week on the water. Life is good. Yup.

Notes on heaven: David Arnott is a good friend who has passed already. Len is still living, but I can’t imagine that it would really be heaven if he were not there with me.


Windows open and close,
transposing dream into memory
while impressions impose their will on reality
and obliterate it on impact
fabricating shards that become
the stories of your life.

Everything lived,
becomes something else later.

Brenda Warren 2012

NaPoWriMo 17
This is dedicated to my friend David Arnott, who embellished more stories than I can shake a stick at.

Watermelon Train Wreck

to my dead friend dave

The emerald seasons, high on themselves,
glisten in shimmering mornings.
Divining life through pantomime
illusions, they rise and fall
greening bones bared during the fallow
void of winter’s faded balcony

where you sit forever locked
in celestial observation
flapping your quirky rhythm
in wind that jostles my car
on highway 87 near Moccasin’s
ominous edges.

The first stanza of this poem came, and then it changed into a poem to my friend David Arnott. After being hit by a truck on highway 87 near Moccasin, Montana, last November he lingered in a coma a few weeks before dying.  The title will remain obscure.  Dave and I always joked that our daughters were twins with different parents. They were born a month a part, and look like sisters. My poem, The Dead Woman and The Mad Hatter at Beyond the Bozone is the first piece I wrote for Dave.

Please visit The Sunday Whirl and check out some other poems written with these wordle words.  You’ll be glad you did.