Monday 13 March 2023

Five Poems by Sterling Warner


Shapeshifting with Louise Erdrich


Louise, I searched for you in shadows,

behind brass edges of a jacklight’s collar

flickering beacons of burning oil

stripped your apprehension, lured you—

a breathing doe—into familiar clearings,

make you pause on frozen fields,

consider existence as my spiritual wife.


Selfish desire transformed my essence      

into a pining vegan windigo destined

to come for you and haunt your

compassionate impulse, piercing

that “breastplate of clawed, roped bark,”

shielding your soul from sexual longing,

keeping my transcendent love medicine at bay.


Smoke masqueraded as change on the horizon,

defined roles blurred into various reversals;

I, an urban hunter, once embraced misery

compelled to wander, cursed to pursue

thoughts you birthed inside my being.


Actions advised, decisions nurtured, you

blessed me with freewheeling courage

to hop freight trains in a runaway romance

bound to derail within hours or days whence

I’d acquaint myself with your familiar loneliness

as mysteries connecting solitary spiritual bodies

ceased to touch our union’s corporal relativity.


No longer a pillaging Fleur, Louise,

since shedding my icy coat, rising up a wakinyan,

you feed on my thunder, press your white buffalo

moccasins in snow freshly fallen—lifelines I follow

never questioning your mystic tracks.


Now, we raise our heads, smell the breeze,

hoping to capture lingering fragrance

of sour barley, sage incense, and patchouli oil—

earth mother’s tracings we’ll carry with us,

give face to the invisible, recall in a heartbeat

on mornings we wake in separate beds.


Always together—apart, unphased by distance, we

endlessly bewitch each other like antelope messengers.


Wood Winds


Magic flutes resuscitated dead air as they

began to play; spellbound we listened as flat

& sharp notes mingled, pierced the air

shook skies louder than Thor’s hammer,  

Mjölnir, thunder clouds clashing,

rumbling, rumbling, rumbling;


a cacophonous coral chimed in as nature’s

percussion session continued & voices

harmonized like a morning star choir

snapping fingers, tapping feet, balancing

on lofty pin-heads, joyfully singing & humming…

spiritually immersed in enchantment’s phrase;


like unforgettable ear worms, wavering flute tunes

struck hearts young and old, male and female, day

& night on creativity’s anvil—inspiration’s sculpture—

tempo goddesses look to Euterpe, melody’s muse,

removed from nod at counterparts perpetually engaged

transforming mythic music through space & time:



Inked Opus


Glenda’s dragon tattoo stretched

from petite feminine shoulders to her

ample bubble butt, and came alive

after showering—its curved scales

twisting about her waist, then resting

like Fafnir’s tail wrapped around a treasure trove. 


Before soft shadows draped over

Glenda’s shoulders like a blue-black cape,

she’d sun her naked supple flesh, absorb

welcomed warmth and deflect harsh rays

her serpentine torso ever alive, eager,

prepared to flaunt excess. Proudly. Often.


Between sweltering days and dew crested nights,

Glenda inked untouched arms and legs, waited

for throngs of admirers to express approval

fawn over numerous tats, piercings, painted nails,

gratified to dream about her body art courage

secretly longing to be clothed in Glenda’s skin.

Autumn Nuts


Crunchy acorns litter park walkways

where tourists & locals stamp their feet

doing the Golden Gate soft-shoe

imitating Mr. Bojangles, imagining

Shirley Temple matching taps & steps

without a hitch, moving down lanes

harbouring oak tree fruit that dances

in the wind, drops off curled branches

rolls down cobblestone footpaths,

collects on grassy knolls & corrals in curbs,

feet unintentionally husking kernels

delighting blue jays & grey squirrels.


Daze & Nights


Deirdre spent her weekends

strolling harbour city shades

long before years allowed entrance

into taverns where salt water sailors

convened to drink, swear & fight.


Puckering like Angelina Jolie

purring like a Siamese cat   

Deirdre painted her lips

with Kanka Mouth Pain liquid

aestheticized middle school boys

with French kisses, a skill she

practiced & perfected at sleepovers

exploring tactile possibilities

with girlfriends who buried

their faces in feather pillows

& rehearsed tongues twisting

techniques…soft & inviting

numbing minds & maws

lifting spirits, fulfilling voids,

expressing fleeting passion

without restriction as focused

as a full powered claw machine

clasping a stuffed animal.


While boats rocked in their mooring

Deirdre’s waterfront presence blossomed

pushed shadows aside, remained

the heartbeat of a marina where people

old and young yearned to be felt.


Sterling Warner - is an award-winning author, poet, and former Evergreen Valley College English Professor, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in many literary magazines, journals, and anthologies including Danse Macabre, Trouvaille Review, Lothlórien Poetry Journal, Ekphrastic Review, and Sparks of Calliope. Warner’s collections of poetry include Rags and Feathers, Without Wheels, ShadowCat, EdgesMemento Mori: A Chapbook Redux, Serpent’s Tooth, Flytraps, and Cracks of Light: Pandemic Poems 2019-2022 (2022)—as well as Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories. Presently, Warner writes, hosts/participates in “virtual” poetry readings, turns wood, and enjoys retirement in Washington.

Sterling Warner’s Author Website 

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