Barrett Warner | The scenic route and more

Bare, I Come to You

I never had a green thumb.
It was orange, yellow, sometimes blue.
Plants died. Goldfish died.

On some mornings I enter
the kitchen to find dead roaches,
curled up papery worms,
spiders caught in their own silk.

Geese fall out of the sky
to land at my feet.
Corn and beans mildew on the stalk
and topsoil smothers the stream.

Bees have stopped dancing.
Every so often I suspect
the water might be tainted
or the air, corrupted.

I remember the way
my witch hazel and wisteria
used to laugh in their sleep,
even during a bad dream.


The Scenic Route

Knowing two people can make love
and come away in different moods,
like Tennyson, after taking it,
farms an eyebrow in the bathroom
while I find urges to pluck hydrangeas,
I realize how impossible to imagine
we could have the same picture
of Wachapreague, our dinner
of ham and oysters and bruised kale,
a sleepy midnight, walking around
town in the morning with love
and spit on our dumb faces.

Renting a small pontoon boat
we navigate the shoals, and here,
we beach, scurrying the plovers
and running across sands to waves
breaking like small madnesses,
until lost, and given over to the sea,
I look and call and shout like an osprey,
scenting lace caps, tasting the salty
distance between us. Tennyson
is in the boat, jerking the motor
to start, doing chronic ovals in the inlet,
jammed on the barnacle shoals.

A few things I haven’t confessed:
Hydrangea is a word that needs
four parts of the mouth to pronounce.
There are over 200 varieties.
Tennyson is not his real name,
and we have to reach Norfolk by dusk.

Barrett Warner is the author of Why Is It So Hard to Kill You (Somondoco, 2016) and My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014). His poems appear in Beloit Poetry Journal, Pembroke Magazine, and Southeast Review. He goes for a swim in the South Edisto River each evening to let the booze settle.

Photo credit: Jamie MacPherson for

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