Monday, December 24, 2012


                                                The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Dry dust will not claim this marrow
until I am ready to forsake the eternal greening of my heart;
restless moments of rustling leaves will not tame me,
nor will feast or famine sway me from this path.

The sea will surge,
coming ashore with its remnants
of another life to quell quiet moments.

I shall not weep any longer.
The world has depleted too much strength as it is.

Let flowers rise under another's tears,
if they must. Let them curl their blooms
beneath a mournful moon. I shall not care.

I am preoccupied with swirling
under a pale sun. I am ferocious
and wild beneath layers of solicitous laughter.
I am a nascent seed,
discovering the depths of soil as I take root.
I will not return this legacy of harvest. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Forest of Your Smile

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

They shimmer bronze, like a summer breeze.
Your hands describe curves of the moon.
Orchids rise upon your breath, stems curl as lips in laughter.
I whisper, “How green are my eyes tonight?”
You tell me leaves turn over when rain comes near and birds are silent.

Love Answers Pablo's Grief: Inspired by Neruda

Your sad eyes weep, sweet salt flowing upon my flesh 
as rain is softened by the fall; as dusk descends, 
it covers the mountains with remnants of fire.

Your melancholy takes root, lifting my boughs in its wind.

We could never lose this moment, as it is enshrined 
deeply within our hearts, my Love - how can you not know the truth 
of this gift, these everlasting memories which shall not tarnish or fade?

Our reminiscences of this day, this night, become currency we shall not spend 
frivolously, even in our diminishing years. I am never far away from you, 
never disappearing into the mist that surrounds you as you moan.

I shall gather your hands to my breast so you might feel its thrum, 
the constant rhythms of one who pulses near you, who remains within your sight 
if you will only raise your head, turn your eyes outward, draw me closer 
than your sorrow.Your blue sweater is wrapped around my shoulders 
as I pull you into a warm, liquid embrace - a river, surrendering itself to the sea. 

The shore may be hidden by the fog, but it is there, Beloved. 

We are standing on its fluent, moving currents, our feet planted 
in sodden sand, shimmering sculptures of quiet rhapsodies unveiled;
we shall not sink below the surface - our unfurled wings shall keep us afloat 
as we murmur within these slow waves of song.

A Moment With Emily

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

My columns on a variety of subjects

In Amherst,
there is a quiet house
enormous with history.
She watched the world expand
through her narrow window there,
perhaps never realizing how generous
she would become.

Her gifts remained largely unnoticed 
in the business and busyness of people living their lives
as best they knew how, not understanding
she held the key to secret, unseen doors
where perception might grow as large 
as the wisteria she tended with merciful hands.

First in black, then white,
she strolled softly between burgeoning branches,
sifting fruit and petals alike with pale fingers
holding her lace shawl on her shoulders bent with accumulation.

Often, she would soothe her hounds 
as darkness descended, lost in mysterious reveries
none could explain.

Under candle’s glow, she would read the classics,
and writing far beyond her breadth,
outmaster them all with a redolent stroke of her pen.

She could not have known
the ancients would shudder and thrill the starlight,
thoughtfully gazing through her portal
as time was severed from its leash
and night grew dim.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Creativity (Updated 11/26/12)

my newest poem

song of crisp leaves

My poetry site author's page

My poetry author's page

Update: four new columns posted now

one on the photographer Imogen Cunningham, one on Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, Naomi Shihab Nye and the latest column is on Jane Hirshfield.

(arch - graphic artist unknown)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Autumn's Glisten

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Winter performed a mighty glissade,
keeping its balance with vulnerability and valor
hedged against the tender pall.
Hibernation became my wise reckoning.

Spring taunted me with burgeoning buds
and whispered with incessant insouciance.
I felt the greening within, 
long before its warmth settled upon the nape of my neck 
as the horizon moaned its awful ache.

This inviolable landscape shuddered swiftly
and arched into Summer’s rage of fiery breath,
stealing my splendor of song, its slow echoes lost.

I waited patiently for the onslaught, the oncoming vortex - 
soft wind loose, then tightened into smaller circles
that cautioned a confluence of chill chaos.

Autumn arrives now, its welcome hearth
resplendent with the solemn solace of flame.
The ardor of leaves as they scurry within the lane
brings humility and comfort to bones ever weary for rest.

Redolent with harvest, 
sinuous storms will follow.
I gather a gradual, cautious bouquet of silence
from branches bared with knowing what lies ahead
while September begins to compose 
its crisp and brilliant symphonies.

A More Solemn Letting Go

Melodies unweave crisped notes above loosely wrapped, confused flesh
to help soothe and subdue them into their darkly-writhing graves - 
even the newly dead require a rite of passage, 
a more solemn letting go 
than a mere scattering of petals would imply.

They feel the weight of a clouded sky pressing down,
the force of gravity constraining their brittle bones beneath the soil
as they still remember the warmth of sunlight 
upon their now paled, gray faces.

Do not speak unkindly or step over them without pause,
for they will know the depths of your presence soon enough -
you will not be able to plead or barter your way out 
of these evolutionary circles, 
away from this binding, terrible truth.

So I am wandering looking for new deities,
sweeping dirt to and fro, seeking a softer place to kneel
than memory will offer this gasped grinding of grief,
this swift severing of halves from wholes,
this etching of echoes carving caves into heaving, heavy hearts
that know of no better place to release their barbed-wire laughter,
their cautious aspects of mourning, each stuttered step acknowledging 
such fiery, distant drums.


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton


The shore defined the reach of the current's ebb and flow.
We stood on the edge of yesterday and tomorrow, lost in the moment 
as our eyes discovered two souls searching for each other.

Fragile in our knowing,
we leaned into an embrace that remains, even now.

Suddenly, we fell upon the sand,
laughing at time, stunned by our mutual surrender of balance.

You sighed gently, your hands tangling in my hair
as you showed me paths built of starlight.

The waves echoed the rhythm of our hearts
as we gentled the night with a kiss.


I linger softly between each line,
torn between anguish and ecstasy.

I spill my soul's ink upon this lucid parchment
with a passion that will not be silenced or denied.

Within my tempestuous thoughts, moonlight tarries,
whispering star-songs into my dreaming eyes.

Why must survival be so harried and cruel,
when the beauty of life is so sublime?

I pause for a bitter moment to drink my fill of sweetness
as though perilously parched 
before I scatter myself across a multitude of horizons,
longing for nightfall in sanctuary's keep.


Among the elders, I search for the perfect tree,
a solid branch to hang my hopes upon
without concern for storms' splintering wrath.

I seek bountiful boughs to shade me,
plentiful leaves to sing their autumnal songs.

Along the landscape I have slowly wandered,
spending long years lost within this quest.

Breezes sigh softly through bared branches,
subtle movements against the night sky
between gently dancing leaves.

Shadows murmur across the horizon, hiding intentions of light,
burrowing beauty beneath chiaroscuro echoes,
unveiling dualities.

We are silent within this radiant realm
as passion's purity unfolds inside our hallowed hearts,
origami birds suddenly come undone.


Time carves its solemn memories
into stone softened by sorrow.

Joy etches its presence upon these rough-edged pillars,
insisting on its rightful place within the sacred cycles
of weeping water and borrowed sun.

The Anasazi came and left without leaving any clues
beyond their abstract disappearance;
only the silent cliffs remain as witness
to mark their existence among us.

We are all only fragments of dust, 
gathered into wild bouquets,
until the wind returns.

2 a.m.

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather 1922 by Imogen Cunningham

The night is fluent and deep.

Your breath, 
a pastiche of rising tides, 
awaits my immersion.

You gather me like fragrant leaves 
even as you sleep, pull me into your dream 
until we are wrapped together within these boughs 
and dream of fall, ablaze.



I might have believed 
in a destiny that swelled between us,
a wave so wild, it beckoned,
although I longed for shore.

You etched wingless eagles into my eyes,
wove bitter butterflies into my belly,
stitched sorrow deeply into my soul.

You were far too beautiful
for the ache you accepted too willingly,
the agony you feasted upon with such hunger,
calling it harvest. 

You offered me a taste 
of this harsh liquid,
calling it mead.

By candlelight,
you signed the words "I love you"
because the words were caught in your throat -
you shivered when I kissed you;

I tasted the salt of your sweat and tears,
confused by the savoring
of an exquisite moment made painful
by the tenderness of your touch -
you silently withdrew
and left me moaning your name.

You wounded the heart of me
when you swore to vows
you would never, could never keep.

I shook at your deception,
curling into the small warmth of shadows -
your false light was anguish defined.

I sought the healing sculpture of language,
unwilling to perish from loneliness,
unwilling to die for your sake
when you would not live for mine.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Norma Jean

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Inspired by Marilyn Monroe's poetry

Norma Jean, 
your sinuous vines were meant for more
than bearing fruit, for gathering wind in your leaves,
curled against the storms.

The soil shuddered beneath your feet,
swaying within the onslaught of unrepentant tides.

You were golden, 
a kinetic glow surrounding your skin
too many longed to touch, and tear.

When the wind grew too fierce,
you burrowed beneath your slow blankets of flame,
surging, trembling. 

we are sustained by your tragic warmth,
restlessly drink from your wild vintage.

For Anne, Who Knew, But Sang Anyway

                                                                                      Inspired by Anne Sexton

You aligned your inked soldiers 
gray with cavernous yawns gleaming bright,
black anthems marking their despondent trail.

With shreds of evidence, scrawled ransom notes,
just how much proof of life did we require beyond
the gripped grinding of your bones, the harsh tremolo
of your caustic voice before we finally realized
how far you'd fallen, how deep you'd descended
into those aching crevasses carved by chaos?

How much brutality must one mortal frame 
be subjected to, endure, before the structure gives way,
crumbling into severe shards of glass, 
misted clumps of dust?

You screeched and scrawled 
until ears turned deaf, eyes blind,
neglecting the density of your sorrow 
until you could bear no more beatings of your breast - 
you stilled yourself so gently, the slight rippling of torn wings 
could not be heard.

We wept for this grave loss, unkempt 
and fevered with contagion such madness leaves behind,
a wake we could not consciously attend without shattering
our own brittle reflections in antiqued mirrors 
we'd so long ignored, snared as we were 
by a placid existence.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nape Sauce

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

My love weaves threnodies beneath my flesh, lifting
sensation as feathers thrust into darkening mapled skies;
his ink dips brightly into the hollows of my throat,
gathering new songs.

We are the sum of bad math gone astray,
gone into the woods of our own making
where creatures frolic and dance
within wavy subdivisions of marbled waters
that know no shame.

My love exhales the cooing of doves into my hair, twining
as branches rise up to meet the sun;
he twirls his fingers in the tides of my touch,
sounding like whales in the deep.

Dolphins click and weep into darkness of swirling seas
as oil makes its ugly surface rainbows, a travesty of lies 
told sweetly to children as they tremble under their covers, knowing 
nightmares are forming in the closets of imagination
and the grim brothers wait outside the glassy-eyed window,
their curtains drawn.

My love ascends, his words a horizontal purpose protruding 
through masses of clouds that would turn wind's soft breath into howls
of mediocrity and destruction; he sows his seeds understanding 
the imminent threat of droughts, of floods - still, he watches 
the soil for tenderness after blood recedes into dusky distances, 
his flute offering apologetic ballets of better days aloft;
there are glistening epiphanies beyond this hill,
awaiting archeologists eager, small shovels.