Eden’s Promises

Apples hold secrets like forests hold trees
deep in the husks of their seeds.
Secrets like cyanide can become lethal
and exile desires to breathe.
Screaming for freedom, secrets are stories,
peering up from beneath our dis-

Three blind spiders spinneret nests
and cosset enigmas in spirit,
piles of promises (cradled arachnids),
clues to secrets’ deep web,
like cyanide in apple seeds
buried in flesh
through stories wrapped round in red.

Brenda Warren 2013

Process Notes: The first two lines are from The Soul’s Arsonist, a poem I wrote in June. After writing about three blind spiders, the piece stopped.  Clicking on the apple tag in the sidebar I found apples and secrets in two lines of a piece, and started over using them for this week’s Whirl.  It was nice to see the spiders spin in again.  Little pieces can form bigger pieces. Eden’s Promise is best served aloud. I like it. I didn’t use the words rash or claws from the wordle.


Visit The Sunday Whirl


Words are bullets.

Letters, spit by storm clouds, fill puddles,
inhaled alphabet soup, garlicky red,
dimming Count Dracula’s Transylvanian charm
as graphemes drip from his fangs.

He turns his eyes toward Beethoven’s fifth,
it bloody well always grabs him by the throat,
catching his breath in the snow where
the untenable touch of a thousand tomorrows
echoes blood’s thunderous pulsing
as he walks into the light of day.

Chuck watches,
hoping immortality will one day be hers.

Once his ontogeny recapitulates its phylogeny,
she will chop off his head.

The dish runs away with the spoon,
splashing through red graphemes,
while Chuck shoots words
at morning’s fading moon.

Stepping in front of the Count,
her words ricochet back in
garlicky red puddles
uttering messages,
dressing April in words.

Brenda Warren 2013

Weird. It came from an aside Miz Quickly offered up during NaPo. It was stranger than it is now before I tweaked it away from the prompt a bit. If you check out the prompt, you might get an idea where this came from, but I’ve butchered its beginnings. This was a fun one. If you’re stuck, give it a try. Come back to it later… Tweak the bugger.

It’s funny.  The entire piece started with a metaphor.  Words are bullets.  I chose it to reflect the cover of Billy Collins book, Ballistics.


Caw! to Miz Quickly for being there last month. The prompts you provided wove their way through me to undercaws.  Caw!

Fish Food


Warden is married to his keys –
keeps them on a cord
snaps them back to hip.
Chink, step, chink, step–making rounds.

Twenty years, I worked these walls.
Last month, finished a forest,
a world blooms in my cell.
Swirling clouds cover my sky.
Branches beckon above my bunk.
Eyes of squirrels and other critters
peek from the umber of brush.

Chink, step, chink, step.
Today I rise. Warden pulls his keys
unlocks my cage.
Back to hip.
Sending me home—
Sending me where I began.


Forest insists I visit.
In twenty years,
pine trees stretch,
trails disappear.

Tracing paths on Ponderosa’s skin,
I place my cheek against her sturdiness,
and beg for answers to time’s sweet passage.

Considering all this forest holds,
I course through memory.
A snort disrupts my reverie.
I feel eyes upon my flesh.

Never losing contact with Ponderosa’s trunk,
I turn.
Rising up this she bear towers–her broad head
bruises the underside of branches
until she knocks something loose.

Maybe that’s all she wanted.
On all fours she turns,
and lumbers deep into dense dark woods.

My breath whooshes out
as I settle in a crumpled heap at the base of the tree.
The sun’s light draws my eyes to the ground.
There–what the she bear knocked down.

A key.
A skeleton key.
The skeleton key.

My laughter resonates through every tree’s being.


Twenty years ago, I climbed this tree.
Twenty years ago, I hid this key.
The key to a secret chest I’d stolen
from the cup on my brother’s desk.
The cup with
Don’t Touch
(this means you Bitch)

scrawled on its side.

When confronted, I told him
I threw it in the lake.
At that, one hand grabbed the back of my neck,
the other engulfed my wrist.
He half-pushed, half-pulled me to the lake—
a back and forth waltz to the shore’s rocky edge.

“Get it!” he said.
“Make me!” I dared.

He danced me through the icy wet
until water lapped at my waist.
“Where is it!” he screamed.
No answer.
“Where is it!”

He grasped my hair
in both his hands and
shoved me under.
I struggled to hold onto
the limited air in my lungs,
letting it out in stops and starts.
I tried twisting, turning, kicking.
He jerked my head back,
and got in my face.
“Where is it, you little bitch?”
Nothing but heaving gasps with time for one deep breath.
Under again—I forced myself to open my eyes.
Mossy stones summoned through the muck.
My hands felt for stones with substance.
My hands felt for stones with sharp edges.
I let myself go limp.

He yanked me up.
I swung behind me.
A crack of stone on skull
punctuated the morning air.
He let loose, stunned,
blood dripping from his temple
and slid beneath the surface of the lake.

I held him there, under the water
until his bubbling ceased, thinking
he’d become part of the lake, and
nourish its fish with his blood.

This prose poem is my first contribution to Open Link Night at dVerse The Poet’s Pub.

Process Notes:
The first draft of Fish Food was constructed from an intense prompt during a writer’s workshop I attended two years ago. The prompt was delivered an image at a time as we were writing, and the story unfolded from each image. The prompt was designed to explore Jungian archetypes. The images included key, forest, cup, bear, and body of water. The person who delivered the prompt had us close our eyes, and paint each new image into our piece mentally before writing. I revised this piece last summer, but still felt it was unfinished. I cut about 20% tightening it up today. This may be the final draft…but who knows? It just might beckon again some day.


Rojo plays a banjo
his talons pull the strings
and every time the music starts
young Maria sings.

Rojo learns a new song
as Maria combs her hair.
She hears a twang of sorrow
from a bird inside a lair.

Maria feels the pain he plays.
She slowly lifts the latch,
then opens doors and windows
setting free her catch.

Rojo looks her in the eye,
his pupils shrink and grow.
He says hello.  I love you,
and then he says Freak Show.

She closes up the windows
and she closes up the doors.
She loves Rojo, he makes her glow,
he snores her papa’s snores.

Rojo plays a banjo
his talons pull the strings
and every time the music starts
young Maria sings.

Brenda Warren 2009