Friday, July 12, 2013


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Even within the shadows of a vast and jaded heart,
there is a spot of soil where light turns inward,
waiting for the wind to deliver a nascent seed.
We may become vintage, devolve into sepia reminiscences,
yet Love remembers we were once bright and bold, 
when we knew we still had wings.

These Tender Mythologies

Those whose words are brutal, 
carved thorns hidden within contrived gardens,
will one day reap the wounds they've caused, 
weep our sorrows upon their own sleeves.

Those whose words are vulnerable, 
primed by wisped slants of light pouring through an open portal,
will some day know the softened silk they have inspired,
the moist whispers engendered by their constant murmurs.

Leaves curl beneath the onslaught of a sudden storm, 
swift ascents of laughter emboldened by the coming rain.

We are nascent within this womb, arching 
toward the sky. We seek 
these tender mythologies 
pastel with courageous song.

this woman I know

               — for Melissa

she is lovely, kind, funny and wise, 
pays attention to details that matter 
and gives credit where it is due 

she recognizes brushstrokes and patterns
hidden within the weavings 
of intricate tapestries of silence

she pauses for just one more moment, 
as her jagged, deep inhalations memorize

each aspect of this undiluted world, 
this crazy, unzipped life

where wings are frail and transparent,
too easily bent or broken, 
but if you are careful, 
they will carry you far enough
before you fall

she comes and goes, 
waving farewell without a sound - 
she changes her name until it fits, 
she weeps, she dances, she hums

then revolves,  
goes back to an awful beginning
she cannot seem to forget, 

where words once seduced her 
into the latticed lateness 
of an empty morning
without coffee or bread to bind her wounds

small sentences held her hands, clasped together
as they shook through thicker shades of night
she never quite believed were possible

beneath bridges she once burned,
she sifts through soft gray ash, 
seeking bones to bury. to ask forgiveness, 
a wretched ritual of penance none of them require - 
there was no offense remembered 

but oh, 
she is warmed by a single notion 
that one day they might sing her sinew slowly 
into a different place, 

one without boundaries
and unjust rules

beyond horizons of barbed wire,
she sees unsaddled horses grazing 
and smiles

there is a boxcar sitting,
still on the track, 

quiet, open and waiting
for her to run, jump, 

settle inside the early dusk
and fly far away 
to where dreams are shaped
and reborn,

loosened from the long list of madnesses 
decreed by a mundane existence

where words don't seem to matter much
or mean so much, she cannot speak - 
her eyes turn black, 
shining wet with ink

apologies kick off their shoes
as bare toes squish and stretch, reveling 
in the last days of summer's lush green

leaves turn, crisp and drift,
briefly ablaze with fiery, vivid colors,
her cheeks reddened by an unexpected breeze

they become new reminiscences for her to tuck safely 
between those sacred folds 
of her stitched and mended heart

anticipating another journey
to somewhere else,

where she can simply breathe

The Sexton

Your fingers paused, 
tarantulas crawling haphazardly across a wind-swept dune
before deciding their course - 
tumbleweeds toss themselves nonchalantly toward a slim horizon.

The coroner was on call, awaiting a final word
from the death-administering doctor who constantly checked your pulse
for signs of life. You denied him his due,
wretched as he was about his cold hands, 
his rank breath as he bent over your soon-to-be corpse.

You were still, perceiving the hollow pains of labor, 
not yet pregnant, but expecting. Your breathing was shallow,
diving into the depths of the surge; doomed, still hopeful
that the saving would be yours to savor.

You spilled ink in shades of democracy, 
your politics uncertain.
You sang in your sleep, unaware.
You martyred your self, unbecoming what you once were,
what you never would be again.
How you trembled, wise and unknowing, 
dipped in dripping wax of burnt candles.
Your silhouette carved itself into shards of gray light.
You conjured the brutal beast from shadows, 
sure you could tame his ferocity.

Your fingers hovered, 
crawling sideways like a crab 
that once drifted on a wild tide, lost all direction,
but still felt the beckoning of a darker breeze.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Upon the Forgotten

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Your eyes, the shade of untrodden grapes 
before wine spilled into an ancient, wooden vat.
Your voice held their close, musky scent.

The past stretched before us, 
an unmade bed, tangled in memories.

We knew we did not belong to the world 
or to each other -
stilled in silence, we tried to stake our claim. 

Was it rebellion or spite that made us kneel 
in that unending darkness?

We wrapped ourselves in thick textures of bark,
burrowed beneath soiled dreams, 
trying to find roots and a reason 
to ascend into sunlight.

Through those misted windows, 
we heard muted music,
but we could not sing.

Was there ever a moment, 
as I poured through your fingers,
that you needed to catch me? I never knew.

Unremembered are those soft cotton sheets 
wrapped loosely around my thoughts 
as you dressed quietly, to be sure I slept.

You never wanted to awaken me,
and you never really did.

Wet Tendrils

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

I gathered wet tendrils,
separated strands (captured sunlight, you said) -
gold, copper and silver from beneath the soil,
auburn leaves' rustled whispers,
felled wings of dark hue,
gray mist from distant shores.

I combed as quiet ritual shone in your eyes,
unable to resist this fragrant bouquet.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blind Tides — Inspired by Pablo Neruda

Swallowed by indigo night,
small sails whipped and torn as ocean swells 
in wild movements, demanding only stuttered circles 
and jagged angles instead of granting us blessings of true north, 
where you wait, counting undiminished moments, 
pale and weary from dawn's incessant weeping.

Invisible are curs├ęd stars we would navigate by — 
this sextant, merely a worthless invention held in indignation, 
taunted by an unforgiving grasp of torrential voices
calling to us, secret whispers from beyond the veil.

You there, far from searching eyes, bent by distant winds, 
an ancient archipelago battered by violent seas,
your scars borne proudly as pale ribs heave 
yet another breath in murmured prayer — 

your quiet endurance is insufferable, 
unbearable in its grace, an unwilling sainthood 
none of us deserve.

Even dreams of death are unending 
as storms of sorrow brew and rise in the east. 


Author notes:

Inspired by the following excerpts by Pablo Neruda:

"singing has the color of damp violets"  

— quoted from "Nothing But Death" by Pablo Neruda, translated by Robert Bly

"Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain"

— quoted from "Carnal Apple, Woman Filled, Burning Moon" by Pablo Neruda

"You, my love, still asleep in August,
my queen, my woman, my vastness, my geography
kiss of mud, the carbon-coated zither,
you, vestment of my persistent song,
today you are reborn again and with the sky’s
black water confuse me and compel me:
I must renew my bones in your kingdom,
I must still uncloud my earthly duties."

— last stanza from "Still Another Day: I" by Pablo Neruda, translated by William O'Daly