Monday, April 29, 2013

Tread Softly

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Entangled by the feast, we forget we are spirits
meant for better things than separation.

I imagine your dark eyes
as they crease in silent, restrained laughter -
we become warriors against a clear blue sky,
standing undivided by circumstance; we seek each other
with ferocity, a subtle edge of guilt frayed by doubt.

The weary sun has settled into the landscape's embrace;
it has been parched for centuries, it seems.
The moon weeps effervescent tears in streams of pale light -
shrouded by fog - her ache is palpable.

We are ferocious in the pursuit of this folly,
purchasing mere moments by the handful,
spilling our dreams upon the page.

I stutter with surprise when the sun rises
without my bed accepting the weight of weary bones
as I bend over this daunting desk
to listen intently for truth's most tender tremblings.

Hollowed by lonely wrath,
your brow arches as it furrows in thought,
your voice as smooth as the finest sapphire silk,
as rough as raw gray granite
when you are moved to passions
no tide can fully savor or discern.

Yet, here we meet and melt,
melding stained glass that swirls in shadows;
distant shores surge between our songs -
still, the wind carries wild whispers aloft.

I am haunted by the absence of your touch,
bereft of beauty.

I am worn to bare bones,
traveling on the casual dust of dismay.

I whisper your name into borrowed slumber;
as a new leaf turns,
a chrysalis glistens beneath morning dew.

Your voice is the color of dusky sky
anticipating a canvas of sultry stars ascending,
the smoky glow caresses our eyes with possibility.

I shudder only once, casting off hungry shadows,
folding sorrow into a forgotten drawer
as your hands flow through my hair like subtle currents of the sea.


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

There comes a thawing when burgeoning seeds burst,
tethering roots to dark soil, ascending into ungathered blooms,
their perfume scenting night air, soothing sleep when it finally comes
from a weary counting of stars. 

The moon swells, pregnant with contemplations of mercy;
it commands tides to surge and writhe their beautiful ballet 
beneath its shadow-struck surface, 
easing, then erasing shores of ancient memories.

Sudden tithes of laughter arise,
burrowed beneath bent, aching bones, calls them to dance
unabated by storms, never heeding dense droplets 
which cling to freshly-dewed hair, swirls of sheer joyousness 
for breathing, for being here to witness this wild, unkempt rapture, 
slow silk unraveled by a beloved's distant gaze.

The fragrance of bread unrolls from the oven in waves,
promises of sustenance, of ravenous hunger's deep, empty spaces
becoming filled with delicious comfort, with simplicity's tender touch.

Blankets quilted by legacy's hands, origami pieces unfolding 
into caring thoughts combined, to soothe the arrival of dreams 
with stitches of truth, burled and bundled beneath 
the inevitable onset of winter's wrath, 
of striding forth into restless, yearning spring.

Dear You, — Dangling Conversations (ongoing letters with Elisa Wei)

Dear You, — Dangling Conversations (ongoing letters with Elisa Wei)

                                                — Photographer unknown

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Siege: Inspired by Emily Dickinson

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

These wings shall reap
only consequences of silence since wind has left
such inconspicuous domains bereft.

Our siege is over;
swift currents will turn torn hearts
toward another. Hollow spaces unfilled by fire
will not survive to breathe another day
undone by madness, unkempt with glory.

Forage for faith among these ashes, if you must -
profusions of dry dust will pallor your song.

Festivals of unweaving will take place
in an unmarked square with no one in attendance
to deliver this coup de grace, this fait accompli,
the strange signal for brutal banquets to commence.


our paths suddenly weave and spin,
constructing tapestries, webs, 
echos moving in the wind
toward sunlight's crown

we are each of us libraries, 
infinite pages left unturned, 
innumerable words left unwritten

with mortar and pestle,
mortar and brick,
we lay this fluid foundation, 
then hope our volumes remain intact
long after ash has flown

seasonal leanings

anguish comes, abrupt with fire,
yet remains nascent in seasonal leanings
towards light

we are stilled by what has passed
before our eyes, unopened

we are bestowed by beauty,
ripened by her quiet touch

caterpillars cannot imagine such rapture, 
what may rise from innocent dreaming,
what visions may beckon 
from following their small paths of leaves,
their appetites both delicate and voracious

once defined by our gifts and misgivings,
we look not ahead but behind,
our wings stiffened by an ache of remembrance

little rivers flow slowly from our bent fingers,
reaching for an ocean we cannot see - 
we can only believe it is there, waiting
for waves' swift, determined return to shore

In the Mourning, We Shall Rise

Beneath the veil, 
sorrow bends shadows 
upon her chatoyant silk drape
as she furiously grasps a pendant 
sculpted from ancient stone.

A candle weeps in silence.

First Snow

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

In the small span between hours' passing,
the beautiful redhead lost her lustrous leaf-locks
to brutal gestures of a cold northern wind -
left suddenly bald as though having endured
a cruel and unexpected session of chemotherapy,
her now-naked branches shuddered, then stilled.

Winter came earlier this year than last, which came early as well -
it invaded Autumn's one brief month of glory, delivering dull dread.
The axis, having shifted again, tilted the world in spite of us,
ignoring our pleas for warm colors and the more gradual accumulation
of comforting sweaters and simmering stews, plunging our hearts
into its heavily-iced waters, where we founder and flounder in disbelief.

We cannot trust our eyes always,
but our wretched bones know the truth of it all,
even when instincts are indecisive.

The blue sky turned gray in a moment, clouds thick with intent.
Behind its dark mask, stars pulse their wan, ancient lights,
wanting to not be forgotten.

Yesterday, an omen of birds flew back and forth across rooftops,
crying out a scattered feathering of confusion and fright,
predicting this dire day of blinding whiteness,
fallen and sinking long fingers into unready soil,
covering the tenacious green that remains.

The Sound of Letting Go

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

There is rarely a discernible sound of release,
no whoosh or pop as bodies bend away from each other.

Only silence hears the songs of bones creaking, cracking - 
the suction between souls unmistakable 
as they separate themselves from awe.

Shuddered hearts, shattering, make no noise - 
they only break slowly from beauty's bereft ache, 
an unwilling backward glance,
a keening far too quiet to draw attention 
to these uttered moans,
these inward wailings.

there is music rising,

although we shall no longer dance together,
but apart, 

wild inside this wavering mist.

we were once titans

           — Inspired by "What the Living Do" by Marie Howe

the ocean is rife with forgotten shipwrecks,
their rusted blood drained long ago;
their metallic carcasses clutter the seabed,
these dead machines, now odd homes 
for creatures far below.

the sun remains on the surface, laughing,
dancing in strands until music fades.

navigation by stars
can only be done on clear nights;
when fog rolls in, we drift indecisively,
refusing to admit when we're lost. 

we perish from the inside out,
our memories now apparitions
we cannot seem to recognize.

we will not make new discoveries
when we continually avert our eyes.

truth cannot be avoided - 
it can only be denied.

your blue arms reach for me 
as I gasp, each slow stroke an effort,
knowing the world is an unattainable curve -

my footprints fade as I pass,
sand swirling in my wake, 
erasing existence,
gathering alms.

To Rise

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

            — Inspired by "Soul Plexus", a painting by Vladimir Kush

Beneath this slow surface lies a suspicion of wings 
that haunts each awakening, kept secret 
within these folds of furrowed skin - 

our ribs curled in remembrance, thrumming hearts deny 
the direness of gravity as we long to rise, to rise -

volcanic songs erupting from our swirled depths, 
an ascent from beyond perception of precipices aching, 
arching in the distance under our swiftly-forgotten feet.

Beguiled, we drift into a dawning realization,
cast away from quiet shells,
shedding once-precious perjuries of fragile flesh...

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Like the sky, tenebrous -
I split, spilling remnants of song.
Wet bouquets gather into my arms,
dense language reminiscent of loam.      

Categories defy mirror's soliloquy - 
labels, obsequious without a discerning glance
for what comes seeking wind,
finding flame, instead.

quiet screams of angels

          — Inspired by Anne Sexton's poem, "Angel of Clean Sheets"

gathered by rough, grasping hands of descending dusk,
wild hair knotted, tangled, tumbled in wraths and wraiths of darkness

succumbed, surrendered to horrors unknown to a naïve, trusting child, 
no matter how many grim fairy tales had shivered into flesh,
heard only through dim, drumming noises of a courageous, terrified heart

not all monsters lurk 'neath the bed or in the closet
but all come out at night

waiting for a shocked, silent wail
they know will not be answered
or remembered when light finally returned

On the Beach

His sense of duty long fulfilled,
he returned home to the arms
where he belonged, a half-circle finally completed.

Horrors of the past could not be wiped from his swollen red eyes,
his face wet with dismay and recognition of those sacrifices made 
not for love, but for the betrayal of all love meant.

Quietly weeping, she held him close, 
somehow gathering his fragments,
weaving him whole again
right before the moment came
when nothing else mattered.

On the beach, they swam in each other's currents, 
suddenly undone by the initial chill, 
then flooded with warmth.

There would be no other night to court
this spark, this flame snuffed out 
by man's final cruelty to his own barbaric nature,
an act of cowardice cloaked in bravado.

The echo of a child's bright laughter
sailed across the deepening blue, 
fading as everything slowed 
to a final dream's pulse, 
then stopped,
including time.

Night Crawler

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Your stagnant voice crawled beneath my flesh,
rotted dreams fermenting fire.
You thought you were God’s gift,
but you were merely penance
for an unacknowledged sin.

Slither back into the tall grass
that hides you from sight,
your advantage point for pouncing
on the loneliness of others,
those who are too vulnerable 
to distinguish between a compassionate gesture
and your leering disguise.

Memories of Nesting

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Inspired by Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies"

Memories of nesting rise into dream, 
a knowledge of something sacred, lost to the morning mist; 

the child within mourns far beyond this veil of ascending sunlight,
remembering the onset of shadows, 
keeping what treasures remained hidden. 

For the shroud does not discriminate - 
it engulfs young and old alike. 

A child feels this certainty in her bones, 
although knowledge cannot be bartered
and questions burst forth 
without answers truly being sought.

No one ever tells us anything, she sulks, 
wise in her gratitude for this omission of guilt. 

Everything that dies matters to someone, she thinks, 
still selfless and bold in her innocence. 

Even baby birds must be grieved as they fall 
away from their cradled sanctuary,
unable to fly, not yet aware of their wings. 
She had crept from her bed as cats prowled nearby, 
loving their contentment, appalled at their searches for prey. 
She would hold the tiny fledgling as it took its final gasp 
and acknowledge it as song. 

She would perform a memorial of silent flowers fragrant with dew, 
swaddling their final bed with her tears,
weeping for their loss of sky. 

There was a boy who rode his new bike 
as if he was challenging the wind to unseat him 
from his shining throne. 

Hair flying behind him, 
he never felt the car that hit him, sending him into an early grave 
as his parents tore their hearts for giving him this gift, 
this twisted receptacle of his final dreams. 
The girl who had admired his courage and speed saw him

laying diminished in a wooden box.
She never spoke his name again, not even as she aged, 
for she was sure he never had, and waited for her still. 

She saved the tiny rabbits from their inevitable demise, 
carried them home in a cardboard box layered 
with new-mown grass 
and poked full of holes 
so they could breath fresh air,  
confident she could raise them to their intended height 
so they might understand 
the fields beneath their padded feet. 

All but one survived, 
her unspoken favorite, who lay stiff without ever knowing 
the subtlety of a flower's caress. She planted him in the garden, 
sure he would still bloom somehow, 
although the adults would not, could not understand 
her wailing for something so small and insignificant.

Everything that dies matters to someone, she thinks, 
still selfless and bold in her innocence. 

Soon, she was too big to kiss her father, he said, 
pushing her away into darkness where she stayed, curled 
into a small corner, thinking she would perish 
because he no longer loved her, if ever he had. He turned in silence, 
contempt curling his lip with cruelty. She never forgot 
this appellation of terror that furrowed her brow, 
that caused her to tremble whenever a stranger 
tried to touch her, for it is our fathers who teach us 
how to love and be loved - 
or not. 

She was pulled into cavernous churches where empty shells lay, 
bereft of shining souls that once dwelled within those borrowed bones. 

She never knew them, she only knew it was "our duty to show respect" 
for these anonymous creatures, who someone had once loved. 
Everything that dies matters to someone, she thinks, 
still selfless and bold in her innocence. 

With her mother's voice calling, she would run 
to gather bouquets from their garden to decorate 
someone's resting place and she grew tired 
of the ceremonies never attended by life. She once declared, 
"When I die, I will simply disappear from view and no one 
will even notice I'm gone until it is time for work to be done 
and there is no one left to do it!" 
then quietly cried when she was beaten 
for speaking the truth in an era when children 
were to only be seen and never, ever heard. 
She never was.

Creeping slowly and stiffly from her bed
and cradling her warm cup in her aching hands, 
she recalls these incidents from so long ago, wondering why 
they have come back to her now, when age has set in, 
has made her more comfortable with the idea 
of terrors in the night that have no shape or definition. 

She has known the warm blanket of love 
her husband wrapped around her, providing a solace 
she'd never known before he came to her door 
with purple tulips wilting in his well-traveled hands.  
He carried her away on a northern breeze, setting her free 
into the clarity of a cloudless sky, a kite without a string 
to bind her to the earth. He knows my heart well, she thinks, 
smiling at his tenderness and bravery. 
When the chill settles into the room at night 
where she sleeps, or tries to, 
she knows her fear is boundless, 
and fathoms deep, 

for the shroud does not discriminate - it engulfs young and old alike. 
She has finally grown up, and old