The Drowning Sea

Beneath water’s churning load,
eternity splits into pieces of
before and after.
Waves tunnel caves of grief
through a crazy chattering frenzy of ocean,
swallowing villages,
indiscriminately scooping
anything into its roil.

Frothing beaches melt into a sea
that belches a mass of debris
shattering a wake of absence
with its own broken pieces
cut from before
heaped into after
moonshine and foam.

An invisible sense of delivery
from evil
giggles up from the bottom
of the deep blue sea.
Dark and alluring,
it waits.

Brenda Warren 2013


Visit The Sunday Whirl.

Lake Vermilion Vacation

for Len

Missing link
No honeymoon
No one-on-one
Sans kid, sans time

Marrow to marrow
Bow to stern
Under stars, under moon

You navigate me
I navigate you
Loons pitch calls across the bay
Ululating in the wake of our sway

Sink me tender
Make me swoon
Administer triage
Swathe life’s wounds

Missing link connected
We climb on deck
Railed toward home
Anchored in each other’s port

Brenda Warren 2012

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.


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

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.

river dream

The river’s tumbling current
pulls me deep into a turbulent dream
where I snatch glimpses of a girl
snagged on branches
like so much debris.

I wake trembling,
disconcerted by the river
eating children in my dreams.
Its growing appetite
swallows spring.

Brenda Warren 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 14
14 poems in 14 days. 16 more to come.

eternity’s edge

In a green metal bed on the edge of eternity,
her long white braid rests in her lap.
Its end returns to days
she had a kitchen,
a husband,
a fullness of life,
a daughter.
Now she’s left with nothing but shadows
of her still. dead. life.

A nurse’s aide admonishes her
and balks at her twisted fingers
while bitching about braiding her hair.

She shivers, forever coatless
in this white-halled end of life facility.

Her woolly visions of how it might have been
drowned with her family
in the blanketed waters of Lake Louise.

Fingering her braid
she rubs its end between gnarled fingers
lost in the reverie of that last morning.

Her daughter braided her hair
while her husband watched deft fingers
weave a line down her back
connecting eyes in the vanity
of a suite in the chateau,
husband / wife / mother / father

Unaware that Louise was eating her family,
she bought her daughter a teak box
at the chateau’s gift store.
When they didn’t come back
she cut her braid and coiled it
into the dark of the box.

Her knotted hands with scissors
gnaw the top of her braid
until it breaks free.
She coils it like a cobra
deep in teak, then winds
the preferred braid
on top.
Proof of a life
where love shimmered
in strands of braid
trapped inside a teak box
on a bedside table
next to her green metal bed
teetering on eternity’s edge.

Brenda Warren 2012

Visit The Sunday Whirl.