Monday 15 February 2021

Three Poems by Sterling Warner


Middle Earth Blessing: A Dramatic Monologue


Ordained online by the Universal Life Church

I dressed like Gandalf to perform a wedding,

staff in hand, long stem meerschaum pipe in mouth,

I looked the look, walked the walk yet something—

the magic of Tolkien—seemed missing: language I’d 

ingeniously capture though select Elven phrases.


Elen sila lemenn omentielvo!” 

(A star shines upon the hour of your meeting),

an Elven incantation, kicked off wedding nuptials—

surprising bride and groom—then moved to

their preferred liturgy. “Welcome! Great &

honoured guests, devoted friends, cherished family.”


“May the north—the earth—make safe your voyage;

may the east—air—bring you joy amid sorrow;

may the south—fire—bring potency to your union;

may the west—water—make your relationship sustainable.

may this union be enduring, vows unyielding & love reassuring.

(I was killing it; I was remarkable; I made their day enchanting.)


To refreshen the Middle Earth wedding’ mood,

I added, “Nai aurelya nauva mára!” before they

exchanged vows: Granted, “Have a Nice Day!” the

literal translation, may have been inappropriate—

possibly crass—but all wedding guests nodded solemnly, 

mispronouncing, yet repeating, my words—earnest eyes closed.


When I noticed people yawning, I drew rites & vows

to a close. “By the power invested in me by the old goddesses

& the new, I hereby pronounce you wife and husband:

two loving voyagers embarking on an uncharted

quest as one. Let your lips a holy tabernacle be,

KISS & seal this ceremony salaciously.”


Bride & groom departed from the evergreen grotto,

all eyes fixed on me—the marriage rite concluded,

but guests remained seated—then somebody yelled,

“Gandalf, please leave us with an Elven blessing,”

expecting either to stump me or roll with more entertainment; 

modest, inventive, resourceful, I didn’t disappoint & crafted a reply.


Austere, enigmatic, pensive, bold—without hesitation,

I uttered, Dartho guin Beriain. Rych le ad tolthathon,”

then lowered my staff, moved it left to right over their flickering

torch lit faces, beaming & wallowing contentment complete;  

to this day I wonder why participants never questioned the

insubstantial Elven depth of my last-minute benediction:

Stay with the hobbits. I'll send horses for you.”

Courting Anxiety


Fear casts tall shadows like a skilled undertaker—

a sometimes gentleman—wretchedly wandering in


pitch black funeral fatigues, always at work digging,

lowering, burying, praying…twisting, turning convulsively


in light, his self’s shadow side & most sacred shade secretly

take umbrage against an inky semblance of an animated eclipse:


the astral dim assists while he fancies himself orbiting other planets as

both sun & moon, revelling in lunacy’s penumbra, carefully safeguarding


curious corners, nightfall’s gloom, where honourable darkness

dwells unperturbed by body politics or historical dramas—just 


staccato sounds succinctly trailing ebon stars of sight-blinding

silhouettes, piquing, flashing with dusky mortician earnest.


Clarion Call


Sirens wail as wallflowers fade,

melt into the environment

like winter warriors wearing

ice fringe camouflage fatigues.


Like a cat-o’-nine-tails,

violent night air lashes

over manicured arbours

and grounded noisy aviaries

where meadowlarks mix

with ravens, eagles, and ospreys

vying for an upper-branches

and small wooden porches

inside wire mesh enclosures

offering minimal flight options

fuel natures riot squad grievances,

with counter culture cries.


Bewitching tunes alter in an instant,

seductive warnings withdraw—

make room for other mantras, other voices,

other madrigals, other champions.


Yet long before their tempting lure

becomes consciously mute, they

cajole and tease outsiders,

pretenders, crusaders searching

for sacred grails or leprechaun fortunes,

eager victims choose to listen with ears

wax empty tied to stable masts,

social moorings anchored to steel girders

and ivory towers, eerie Siren arias

insinuate that they may pursue Christ’s  

silver chalice or chase infinite pots

of gold at rainbows’ end forever.



A Washington- based author, poet, educator, and Push Cart Nominee, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as In the Grove, The Flatbush Review,  Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape, The Fib Review, the Atherton Review, and Metamorphoses.  Warner’s has written five volumes of poetry: Rags and Feathers, Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Edges, and Memento Mori: A Chapbook Redux. His first collection of fiction, Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories, debuted in August 202. In 2021, Warner’s sixth book of poetry, Serpent’s Tooth: Poems is scheduled for publication midwinter in 2021.




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