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.

Pinot Wordled

for The Whirl

Sometimes, when I drink almost too much wine,
but never quite enough
I view hamburger soup like it is a gift from the goddess—
sacred and blessed with little hot pepper demons
added to spice up the broth that the devil swims through.
With elaborate intention, he burns holes in my throat
and makes me want to scream “Holy Shit” right out loud
in the middle of red burning river of esophageal spasms—
indigenous to this damned old body’s caverns
with its spirits that demand luscious spicy food,
all the while loathing its later rising summit.
I eat it in ritual cycles with generic pink ranitidine
intended to soothe the acid that corrodes my gullet
pink pills nullify acid like Pepto Bismol without the chalk
I wash them down with a second glass of pinot noir
and a string of ideas cultured on this screen
using words lined with significance
a condiment to my spirit flagged soup
spicy soul food
feeding my psyche
humbled and enriched with a fine glass of wine
pouring through these words I know you’ll read
on Sunday at The Whirl.

Brenda Warren 2012


It amazes me that a group of good writers continues to grow and gather at The Sunday Whirl. You all inspire me to keep writing every week. Writing every day in April was a challenge. But it’s The Sunday Whirl that kept me writing once a week, every week, for a year, April 2011-April 2012, and that feels good. We’ll keep plugging along every week at The Whirl. A dozen or so words can inspire great writing. Several Wordlers accomplish that each week. Thank you for being my writing community. You all rock!

hope & chance

Hope is a dance with chance,
flashing its cobalt emerging,
vibrating your heart’s feathers.
With a wink and a song,
you’re hooked.
It’s clear.

Grab on and align your spirit
as you grind out the contrast
between want and do,
connecting the dots
that spill across life’s vibrant print.

Brenda Warren 2012

Check out The Sunday Whirl.

Fight Zone Sestina

A sea of students ebbs and flows through lanes.
Four minutes define time from class to class.
Frenzied, dramatic, intractable time.
Chatting, drinking, peeing, primping, passing.
Concealed smart phones spread rumors and pictures.
Pushing and shoving and venom and threats.

Not all of you students fall prey to threats,
principled young people flock through the lanes.
Contrasting shoves in live streaming pictures
cameras remember your kind decent class.
Orwell’s future is more than thoughts passing.
Since 2005, those cameras keep time.

Privacy’s squandered; recordings hold time.
Serving a purpose, Big Brother eyes threats.
Threatening you who cast them in passing,
threatening you with the truth of the lanes.
Evidence gathered on fighting’s dark class
indisputably fisted in pictures.

Cameras catch all the angles in pictures
stripping dishonesty, showing true time.
Fists with panache saving face with no class.
Status posts start to make good on your threats.
Teachers lose control of flow through the lanes.
Green tiles bisect white alleys for passing.

Last Monday, I monitored first passing.
Hands yanked hair in, as witnessed in pictures
students formed circles in clumps in the lanes,
I pulled at the girls, and screamed to stop time.
Heeding my call, aware of the fight threats,
Mr. Doans, like lightning ran from his class.

He shot down the hall a racer first class,
he rammed through the girls straight in one passing.
His movement so quick, exploded their threats.
Some students snapped it in cell phone pictures.
Down to the office, and not their first time,
we escorted them down separate lanes.

Beatings before class, fist moving pictures
lightning fast passing, made pewter in time.
Hair left like threats lines the alley’s scarred lanes.

Brenda Warren 2012

Process Notes:
I promised a piece about a fight at school, and offer this sestina. The form itself (along with 12 words from The Whirl) played a large role in the direction this piece took. While the form can be somewhat free, I followed a 10 syllable per line rule. While the piece is not what I set out to write, and doesn’t capture the essence of the fight, I like it. Forms open doors to content, it’s surprising. You never know where you’ll wind up.

Each fight at school has started due to public fights on Facebook. The kids then feel a need to save face, and do it publicly at school. I tried to pull these girls apart, and could not. They pulled each other’s heads into punches with their hair. When I yelled for help laughter rose among the ranks. I am grateful for that laughter, because it truly had to have been a spectacle, and it provided brevity for me all week. Students have named the area right outside of my classroom “The Fight Zone,” as they occur there, even though we have a schedule for monitoring. The initiators come from the bathroom at just the right time, and iump their target in the hall. These two girls were taken out of the building in handcuffs. Their faces were pummeled. Both of them.

Another piece of brevity. After each of the girl fights, hair has been left behind. The colleague who saved the day says, “We should collect the hair: To the victor go the spoils!”

Sorry for the long post. This sestina consumed my day. I’m posting it for NaPoWriMo 28. Which means I still need to write something for Sunday.

Go to The Sunday Whirl. Read what some amazing people did with these words.

purging dragons

Origami dreams flash
in exquisite black shapes
that spangle dark the sky.
A cacophony of folded forms
flutters aches behind my eyes.

Ethereal dragons,
not faced in abstract dreamscapes
remain shelved to ferment
and later climb my throat’s slow rise.
Night eats them alive.

Outside my window,
in undulating blankets of blackness
a murder of crows caws a coda,
a dirge to the dragons
that color dark my soul.

Brenda Warren 2012

NaPoWriMo 22, 8 more to go

Visit The Sunday Whirl.

in harmony

Her sweet flexible voice
animates the air,
exchanging silence for glory.
Flushing grouse from fields of sagebrush,
her energy rises richer than the horned owl’s call.

A young fox flames through the field—
its breath yaps a cogent beat
until their forceful voices blend.

Fox and Girl.

During a dramatic pause
they glance at one another,
then sing out the morning
as branches push buds open green,
and soft breezes carry hints of sage
to trick her into thinking
that spring is really here—
unaware that next week’s snow
will break branches with its wet heavy depth.

She shifts into a minor key
following the breezes,
while fox gathers food for the storm.

Brenda Warren 2012

NaPoWriMo 15
We’re halfway there–15 out of 30 poems are complete at undercaws. Caw! Caw!

For this piece, I pictured a young woman who auditioned for my school’s variety show, singing outside over a Montana field in the spring.  This girl’s voice is distinct, it spoke to me on a physical level, like being outside in open places does. The snow imagery came as we’re expecting sporadic snow here over the next several days.  It can devastate leafy branches, as the leaves provide a foundation for heavy snow. Snap!  Most springs here, there is at least one storm that leaves (no pun intendend) branches scattered in the streets.

This piece marks 52 pieces for my prompt blog, The Sunday Whirl. I’m proud of the community there, and our persistence in chasing words.


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.

2 for The Sunday Whirl

peace out

string me along for a song
I’m your twelve trick pony
whisper like a horse shines
and taste that smell like there’s no tomorrow
you know what I mean
and if you say you don’t you’re lying
so yeah
either way
shine on
or wish your paw
wasn’t some lame ass dog
digging holes to make points
it’s time to pack my bags
and shape something new

Brenda Warren 2012


dark red string

“paw’s up for whispering smells!”

every paw lifts, as weasels glance round the room
remembering that dark red string
that wound its way through last year’s rank and file
it emanated this smell
this smell that carried a peculiar taste
and whispered through packs of weasels
lined up with nose points almost touching
(shaping colons to punctuate connections)
weasels became that string winding through them
evoking wishes for flesh
warm and quivering
something they could hold down with their little weasel paws
while their sharp weasel teeth shredded flesh in a frenzied feast

they hunted later that night

tonight as every weasel paw rises
warnings of humans and reminders of last year’s weasels
culled for “pets”
leads to chitter among the ranks
until a dark red string whispers through,
quieting weasel stories

lined up and touching
weasel noses follow its progress
and the hunt begins

this year, sixteen weasels
are lost to the hunt

Brenda Warren 2012


Process Notes for “peace out”:
I played with the words late Monday night after receiving them as a contribution from Richard Walker to The Sunday Whirl. This piece came quickly. I read it aloud and edited slightly. The meaning is unclear but each line seemed to feed the next line, and it feels like it means something. The title was initially the last line, but I moved it. The ending seems more optimistic to me the way it is now.

I wish I could read it aloud to you, to me the voice drives this piece. It’s fun to read aloud, and the meaning of paw changes. I like that about it.

dark red string” notes: The one wordle word I didn’t use in any form in the body of the poem, “trick,” could be a synonym for the dark red string.

The Alchemist Masseuse

She sprinkled his acid remarks with nectar,
then used his moans to gauge the supple acumen of her craft.

She soothed him.

Advancing alchemical reactions,
her oiled hands heated his shoulders
until juices from his acid tongue
dripped holes into the yellow linoleum
below the healing table.

It quieted his tongue.

Ameliorating pain
her fingers manipulated knots—
vibrating and tenderizing acid into
sugar’s sweet joy.

Holy smoke spiraled yellow
dissipating as it swept his body’s length ,
while the alchemist masseuse
impeded his pain, humming as she
pulverized knots and acid thoughts,

then sent him into the world,
where without thinking,
he tipped his hat to a passing stranger
while humming the lines of her hands.

Brenda Warren 2012

These words kept twirling into darkness, until I set them in the hands of a masseuse. To see where other people took the words, visit The Sunday Whirl. You’ll be glad that you did.


Process Notes
Generally, I save process notes until the end of a piece.  However, this piece has a rather graphic / brutal ending.  The first piece came easily, and left me wanting to explore the character more fully, so I wrote the second piece.  After that, I challenged myself to take on the person who had attacked the woman in taffeta. I used the words to guide each of the pieces. In all of them, the word sister was the hardest for me to incorporate. The piece is not autobiograpical, but was inspired by a dozen words offered up at The Sunday Whirl. A friend’s voice said, “Don’t censor yourself,” so here is a trilogy of perspective.


“Are you okay?”

Like an ashen story,
whispering its scattered urges,
she lifts her blackened eyes
lined with kohl and scalded,
and whimpers her reply,
“I have no knack for charm
my instincts are in shards.”
She sighs and drops her head
into the black pool of taffeta
around her ravaged form,
a faltering white flower
against the sisterhood of elegance.


The Taffeta’d Lady

ashen instincts ferret pathways through the broken shards of my soul
my charms failed me if ever they existed at all
and every urge I ever have again,
will be suspect
faith in my sensibilities crushed
Last night, my knack for blackness
actualized its existence
and now this lady,
this lady asks me
“are you okay?”

(may my sisters’ whisperings scatter my story in the wind)


The Perp

whispering voices offer a litany of ashen curses
as scattered urges piss him off and instinct forces the hunt
leaving scalded piles of spiders in his wake
searching for black dresses
searching for his sister
memory pushes shards of steel
through his heart
driving his pursuit
fueling his story

he charms a bitch that thinks she’s got it all
black taffeta
hair mirroring the tangled mass
he keeps in a box
his sister’s hair

this bitch has it coming
he has a knack for leaving them crumpled
and loves to hear them cry
crushed, spent,
deflowered like the little whores they are

Brenda Warren 2012