manic chasms


Purple Scaries are swing events. My girlfriends and I used to swing side by side, holding onto the inside chain of each other’s swing as we increased our arcs. When we got high enough, we’d swing our legs toward each other until we could lock knees by crossing our feet. Then we’d let go of each other’s chains and alternate our swinging until our swings twisted together. We called this activity Purple Scaries; we’d twist until we couldn’t keep it going, then put our force into untwisting, only to twist our chains up even tighter the next time, then we’d use our bodies to untwist, pulling our heads in as the bars grew closer, twisting again in the other direction, even harder—over and over again.

Thrill seekers, we were lucky we didn’t smack our heads against the swing set bars. Purple Scaries plague me still, but I don’t share them with my students. I can’t be responsible for the blind stupidity of a thrill seeker, and at 50, if I tried one, I just might puke.

The story about Tiff D in the piece is true. She knows her mother is in jail, but did not know what incarcerated meant until Charles Dickens taught her.


manic chasms 

Purple Scaries twist swings in my mind,
manic and laughing, chains twist round chains,
winding childhood back and forth.
A dizzying affair
hewn from my neighborhood schoolyard,
fused through the halls of today,
annealed in my teaching
manic and persistent.

Tangents wax tales, chased and connected
back to basics.
While the subject verbs the direct object,
we fork through the fodder of our lives,
some of it forlorn, like when David Copperfield
teaches Tiff D that the word “incarcerated”
does not imply reward.

Sudden realizations open chasms to our soul.
Purple Scaries.
That’s what we fall into, that’s what we explore.

Clashing understandings open possibilities for discovery
while manic sand drips through the hourglass
onto the playground, beneath the twisting
swings that drive me to a place
where fear and desire collide
panicked and consuming.

Lunch duty and I find myself
looking up at the Montana sky.

Can Tiff D’s mother sense them from her cell?

Brenda Warren 2012


Visit The Sunday Whirl.



Thunder comes to earth
when metal shifts against metal
and childhood flashes its inheritance,
swerving vows into curbs.
My breathing stops,
then starts again when
Thyra’s open eyes meet mine.
We survive, forever joined
in this world shrouded in chaos.

The other driver screams his fucking anger
into dusk’s falling face.
Neighborhood men calm him, as two squad cars arrive.

It starts to feel like some sort of Surreality TV,
when out from the darkness,
a tall white haired man rushes the police
delivering F-Bombs,
his chest stuck out, his hands fisted.
He is tazed, and we are dazed.
Thyra, Hopper, and I,
alive on the street
viewing the world through this umbrella
of unreality.

We stand there
watching events unfold as
excuses rub shoulders with lies
that run deeper than light can go.

That evening forms family stories
for all of us
standing on the corner of Fifth and Fourth
when a Stratus sent our Beetle sailing in a circle
through the center of the street
opening up a portal to a strange reality.

Brenda Warren 2012

This accident was the first of two accidents Thyra and I experienced together within 10 days of each other. She was the driver in the second accident, where we were rear-ended in the family van. That accident occurred last Thursday, and had an almost equally bizarre aftermath with the driver and passengers. It feels otherworldly to have experienced two such strange events so closely together. We received a fair price from the insurance company for Gladys, my 2000 Volkswagen Beetle, the one with U ROCK on her license plate. We’ll sink that money into a black Jeep Cherokee. The family van will run until she’s put out to pasture somewhere. Hopper is our beloved family dog.

For readers who aren’t aware, the F-Bomb is the word fuck.  It was overused that night.  I included it in my poem, as it defined both the driver and his father-in-law.  It was his father-in-law who charged the police from out of nowhere.

Visit The Sunday Whirl.

three more days

Water laps the sides of Cold Bottom, my family’s aluminum canoe, as I dip my paddle into Holland Creek and navigate her shallows to nestle against the logjam where turtles spend hours basking in the sun. I want to let them know. I want to tell them.

I want to be near them.

A school of minnows lingers in the shadows of undulating underwater foliage. Their little bodies shimmer in the shadows, flickering in endless currents. Tiny lily pads remind me of rusted round sunglasses, and I sing John Lennon’s Imagine, a concert for unsuspecting minnows. When I finish singing, loss runs its current through my solar plexus.

—Imagine there’s no people
or minnows, or turtles, or woodpeckers
or ravens, or ponderosa pine—

Halfway out into the logjam, three turtles rise, one after another. We sit and blink for a while, listening to the woodpecker’s tap tap tapping, and then, I thank them.

I thank them for inspiring stories of wisdom.
I thank them for their shells.
I thank them for their flesh.
I thank them for their blinking turtle eyes.
I thank them for being here year after year,
for grounding me on this planet.
And then I tell them that in three days,
everything we know will vanish.

Cold Bottom looks like a giant minnow from below, and the turtles think we are one. We will spend the end together until our home is gone.

Brenda Warren 2012

This piece was written for the Trifecta challenge, Trifextra: Week 23. Here it is:
For the weekend challenge, we’re playing the ambiguity card again and leaving interpretation up to you. Give us 33-333 words with this as your inspiration:

The world will end in three days.

Imagine ~ B. Warren / July 2012


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.


Blister hot highway sheens black
around glossy cracked sheets of rusty patina
sheer against the Blackfoot’s cool spitting foam
where the river salivates, imagining
slippery-limbed cliff jumpers
tickling its low places
as they eddy and weave
through its succulent flow.

Victoria provided an interesting prompt at dVerse Poets Pub. Visit the link for more contributions to the prompt. We were to use texture as a tool in our poems.