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Brett Warren


From the window I saw a red-tailed hawk, perched

in a tree, eating one of the neighbors’ chickens.

I’d seen that chicken before, standing in the sun

next to her sister, new grass and clover

beneath their feet, while the neighbors worked

on the coop. I knew they might shrug it off,

say, That’s nature, bound to lose a few.

But if she had been mine, I would want to know

what had happened. Someone over there had cared

for her, fed her, maybe petted her feathers.

I decided to leave a note. I started to write,

She seemed like a nice chicken—quiet, demure,

winsome even. Then I stopped myself.

Best to stick to the facts. At the end, I added,

So sorry. I left the note in their mailbox.

Walking back, I saw a burst of feathers

below the branch where the hawk had been.

Some of the feathers had a little curve to them,

like a chrysanthemum tricked into early bloom,

perennial though the flower is gone.

These Days

When I get up, it’s still dark. I feed the cats,

set the coffee to brew. To oats soaked

overnight, I add cinnamon, candied ginger,

blueberries, a sprinkle of split cashews.

I imagine the hands that dug the ginger

and cut it into cubes before my hands

cut it into smaller cubes. I sit by a lamp

and read a poem in silence. I listen.

Beyond the burble of coffee dribbling

into the carafe, I might hear howling wind

or the no-sound of snow falling. Maybe

a late owl or the neighbor leaving

for an early shift at work. I think of you,

so far away, out west where I once was,

coastline eroding into its own majesty,

hazy valleys sprawling under geometries

of light, asphalt ribboning the land

with traffic that barely lessens overnight.

I wish you could be in the same blue

as me, this darkness blue as blueberries.

Wish I could roll it over mountains

and canyons to you. My friend,

what do you do to sustain yourself

these mornings, these days?

Losing My Mind

I started losing my mind again.

But then I wondered why we say

losing my mind, when it’s really

being submerged, engulfed,

consumed by mind. So I revised

to losing myself to mind. And then

I wasn’t anymore. I was thinking

about thinking, choosing distance

without losing anything. That night,

I was lying on my side, a question

that might never be answered,

when the disruptors arrived,

clearing four stairs at a time,

chirping from the darkness

of their throats. One curled

into the cradle of my belly,

where a baby would’ve been

if I’d ever thought to have one.

The other pressed himself

against my back, facing away,

bones of tail along bones of spine.

The three of us dissolved

to listen for the first bird

of morning, which never lasts

but always comes again.


Brett Warren (she/her) is the author of The Map of Unseen Things (Pine Row Press, 2023). Her poetry has appeared in Canary, Halfway Down the Stairs, Harbor Review, Hole in the Head Review, ONE ART, Rise Up Review, and other literary publications. A triple nominee for Best of the Net 2024 (Poetry), she lives in a house surrounded by pitch pine and black oak trees—nighttime roosts of wild turkeys, who sometimes use the roof of her writing attic as a runway.


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