Friday, May 31, 2013

The Color of Sand

            — Inspired by the poem "Beyond the Pane" by Greg Hewett

Infrequent gazes of heavy boughs descend
into, beneath glances of suddenly sprung oblivion; 
we are unknown to ourselves, 
beyond comprehension and greed.

Is tomorrow an open promise
or an inevitable threat?

One never knows 
where solace may be found, 
when music could erupt from a throat once closed
from night's insincere embrace.

Wildflowers gather slowly, gently cloistered by dew; 
we bend and shift positions, trying to align
all the dying stars within our eyes.

A porcelain bowl gleams at daybreak,
waiting, perhaps wanting, to be filled 
with either sustenance
or silence.

A Simple Weed's Worth

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Courage hovers;
dandelion's lace is soaring,
a casual embrace of golden dreams.

Endurance is rewarded by songs from soil,           
a lucid ovation from wind.

Be bold and bright,
be a beautiful child
who understands this simple weed's worth
in a world filled with complicated hybrids. 

Renting Space in Tornado Alley

           — for those of us in the Midwest who know ...

When I turned 16, 
emancipation was my proclamation - 
I was in the process of becoming. 

I rented an apartment on the ground floor - 
no stairs were available then. 
It was small, dim, barely room enough to move
without bumping elbows, crashing knees.

I bought inexpensive lamps and covered
their shades with colored scarves to filter the light, 
hung bright tapestries and bold posters, strung fishnets 
with intricate patterns etched onto thick stucco
as though a tide would pass through those tepid walls,
providing translucent shells and perhaps, supper.

My stereo and books were my only companions for a time
as I settled in, sinking roots and plumping pillows,
cushioning this new solitude with hopes for abundance and flavor.

Reminders to eat my fruits and vegetables 
were pasted on an avocado refrigerator door, 
even though it echoed with definitions of hollow.

My only window faced an open field, 
just this side of an interstate, where cars would surge
both north and south, unsure of their destinations.

I watched with keen eyes as birds hopped 
nearby, weaving their songs, wondering 
where instinct would lead them next.

A spider spent its entire day building its web 
in the open metal frame. Later, as dark clouds loomed,
it reached out with spindly legs, gathering its silk, 
folding it in as if it was playing an accordion. 

What had taken hours to construct 
required only a moment to pack 
as it fled for safety somewhere,
anywhere away from here.

When tornadoes roamed wild paths, 
greening and graying the skies,
I'd bang on my elderly neighbor's door 
to warn her, then run and cling to a single mattress,
burrowed inside my closet, flashlight
and crackers in hand, as though to ward off hunger - 

whose, I wasn't quite sure, 
but it seemed to engulf the terrible waiting.

An Ethereal Purchase

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

There is butterfly dust descending everywhere - 
it is tangled in my hair, my ears, 
my eyes, the creases of my mouth 
it covers everything with its glistening shimmer, 
memories of flight resplendent with subtle rapture. 

The heart's cautious creations of memories 
hasten wildly their melancholic ministrations, 
their radiant ridicule of rejection 
responding without knowledge; 
sorrow slides slowly underneath your skin, 
its savagery sustained. 

Time holds no gradual gift of meaning 
when one is grieving, unkempt grace 
shining beneath shadows; 
tenacious within ferocious fog, 
fragile with fingers trembling, trying to grasp the silent air. 

I keep your touch tethered to the darkness 
of my anguished song as these bitter storms rage, 
shivering flesh and bones suddenly, secretly buoyant with bravado. 

The delicate whispers of history 
are almost too beautiful to bear - 
they murmur magma with their forgotten wings, 
wild with their fragile fluttering. 

Without a sound, you stole this silence. 

Your eyes retrieved my dreams from the abyss, 
laughing as they shattered into numerous shards of light, 
kaleidoscopes ascending within the fragrant breath of summers lost.

The Rage: for Sylvia Plath

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

The rage consumes all in its path,
a veritable wildfire of wonder
in its brutal determination.

This fury cannot be contained -
it eludes capture with agonizing precision.

It is a miracle to survive the onslaught,
let alone ride the wave all the way into shore.

I am amazed at my presence here,
assured that angels
surround me with their finest wings -

there is no other explanation
for remaining alive
within this sorrowful storm.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Songs of Neruda

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Flowers remember with tender bitterness
the wild and willful pleasure you found in a moment 
composed of only roots and stones, neglecting 
their fragile scents with your broad hand,
your brimming eyes. 

They have forgiven you with songs of unfolding silk; 
dusky petals drift fragrances slowly 
across somber soil embracing you now.

Within the Garden

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Quietly, I enter your temple - 
you have become my new religion,
provoking prayer, inviting illumination.

Burled branches bend from your sway,
a plea for wingéd things to soar.

Buds ripen beneath your gaze
as your mouth offers tender evolutions.

We are smooth shards of glass, fitted neatly, 
our edges melding,
reflecting translucent moments -  
dusk is forgotten now.

The murmuring wind beneath your hands
lifts my skirt slightly 
with the subtle promise of fledglings.

Forests may fall in silence;
still, we rise from folds of their ash,
shuddering with fruition.

When Dust Finally Settles

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

We swathe ourselves with gestures of grandeur,
attempting to believe that we are so much more
than parchment-thin flesh and boiling, roiling blood.

We are loosened souls
trapped within arduous skins,
struggling to rise.

We wrap ourselves tightly to protect us
from sulphur visions, fiery essences
that rage beyond nightfall's edge -
we whisper fragrant phrases,
lost in the pretense that life is all
about finesse and endurance.

We dance lithely upon the surface of a surging sea,
ignoring the deep, unfathomable dank brewing below;
we sail swift, bitter currents -
eloquent purges tremble beneath every breath.

When dust finally settles,
we are only remnants of music - 
these silent, beautiful bones, bereft of memory.

Your Halcyon Gaze: for Emily

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

               — Inspired by Emily Dickinson

Your halcyon gaze veiled Vesuvius beneath 
the wave-swept shores of flesh 
composed of both delicate lace and tempered steel.

You rebelled against the commonplace, 
dwelling in Nature’s kitchen immersed in ambrosia and herbs, 
gathering heliotrope bouquets to share,
intent on a generosity of Beauty.

Wildernesses flourished within your trembling hands of fire
as you paid homage to greatness of Spirit 
with a whispered echo that spans generations.

Berries frolicked inside your fertile fields, chased by fluttered wings 
of laughter suddenly erupting into songs of tender blue, 
then descending into the quiet gloom of a day’s demise.

Anarchist of convention and style, you chose your path of purity 
with a singular devotion, a steadfast faith in the unknown 
as you devised your definitions, your deviations 
and rearranged the boundaries of your Soul.

Upon a Foreign Beach

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

            — Inspired by an excerpt from "On the Beach at Night" by Walt Whitman
                and the movie "On the Beach" with Armand Assante, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown

He laid near the shoreline, a subtle trail,
understanding he was wounded beyond repair; he searched 
the rugged landscape around him, fascinated 
by the sight of his own blood seeping into the sand, 
a different umbered hue - 
as the tide approached, then receded, 
he felt warmth and wondered at this soothing, 
this sudden clarity of all things previously unknown,
both innocent and wild.

He had no thoughts of such nonchalant brutality, 
the immediate severing of his life from this earth,
the gentle pulling to whatever might come next
and found an odd peace 
swirl into the slowed rhythms of his heart
until he finally gasped in utter awe, eyes widened 
at the joyfulness of flight, 
the determination in letting go of what had held him here.

He grasped his memories - his love of everything and nothing
lifted with him on this journey toward a newborn sun.

uncharted waters, unseen shores

a sapphiric ache surges within,
brilliant fires arching just beneath the surface
where dark memories linger, 
their syrup rich with shadows and light

unspoken agonies, untrilled joys
push against each other, seeking space,
merging where time fractures
into less than a lifetime,
more than a moment

innocence and wisdom woven together
as the child recognizes the experienced adult
and the adult acknowledges the adamantine child

so many soliloquies remain unanswered,
interior monologues cast aloft into night's unfurled sky —
only darkness believes the shallows and depths

where were we then?
          where did we think we were going?
                  where are we now?

there are wounds to prove the path,
deeper cuts stitched together to bind the whole 
into something more than random pieces 
wound around a skeletal frame's raw echo, 
a solid place made buoyant by liquid tides

where beauty, laughter and tears swell into ascension,
where sorrow, bowed heads and loss dwell below descent

we exhale those dreams unspent, those visions left unveiled


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

                   — Inspired by "That One" by Jorge Luis Borges

Nights we spend in pensive thought lost 
beneath moon's somber glance are innumerable; 
luna's lexicon is indecipherable - her geography, gone astray - 
her tears, a trail of mournful mist, 
remorse for unconsummated love of the sun.

Without a single fervent touch passing between them,
only a residual gleam of memory, they will bear no children,
leave no kin behind to immortalize their path, sing their legacies aloft.

They decry those lovers who praise such solitude, 
for their pens spill such passion 
which the sun and moon long to know, yet know they cannot. 

As one rises, the other descends, catching only a glimpse 
of each other as they fill the sky reluctantly with their presence.

They would barter for oblivion just to have one long, slow dance - 
to hold the shining silk of rapture between them
for only a moment.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


                                              "The Soul of the Rose" by John William Waterhouse

I shall not build a shrine for you —
oh, no — not yet —
you are not gone from these woods.

The fire on the hearth is slowing its heat, 
but embers still shine beneath graying ash;
memories are vivid, not yet pale.

We were caught within epochs,
strayed from paths we were meant to follow —
how else could we have met,
creating this melody together?

You are stilled by the years,
yet your shadow dances against the wall —
there is music in silence, too.

Do not pine away or offer regrets
for what was left unsaid or undone —
miracles occur without our assistance,
without our prior knowledge or approval;
be glad if only for the greening of grass,
the gentle lilt of springbird's song.

I am quiet, yet my actions rise up in protest
against the coming of dusk;

I do not accept the inevitable with any grace,
I will not listen to the scythe slice the wind
as it comes ever closer to our threshold. 

Be warm beneath the cloak I wove for you 
of words, of sighs, of murmurs.

I shall lean all my weight against the door,
going without sleep, never pausing to rest,
in order to keep the dark one at bay.

Tapestries of Light

This swelling sea I savor; 
the immeasurable depths of your bold blue eyes
became my true-north mirror, allow me to drift far from shore, 
reflect the clarity of who I am, who I long to be — 
not who I once believed was curling beneath frail bones.

Your every breath is a slow, sweet sonnet recited sotto voce;
bassundo winds exhale shadows into chiaroscuro obscurities, 
calm pastels as they gently brush their sculpted sunsets.

You unbraid my hair with songs of tenderness, unravel my protests 
with untamed promises of life unrestrained by terror, only bright love declared; 
we are poems borne of wings into dusk's wide and darkening sky.

Lifting Them Beyond

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

When a butterfly perishes, 
will it become a fully-fledged angel? 

For wingéd things are not meant to lose 
their patterns of flight, only their mortal shapes. 

There have been dreams when they whispered 
such secrets to me in song and when I awoke, 
I couldn't remember their lyrics, 
only the music they wove into light - 

yet, humans cannot seem to understand these frail truths, 
only the strength of wind rising beneath them, 
lifting them beyond...