Theseus’ Protégé

Lost in a maze, I search for cotton
fibers leading me to the entrance
of an abyss portending danger,
dead ends & dissembling minitours
who snip yarn balls, block my
progression, muddle clear perception,
shade glimmers of light & obscure
paths to an ingress promising relief
from granite walls that sweat
like subterrain caves unexplored
for eons & best left undisturbed.

Midway to the miniscule mouth
of the maze, I step in fetid puddles
where I sink to my ankles
in marshy wetlands deterring
advancement before freefalling
down a chasm, landing in a marble
quarry at the foot of a hillside, thrilled
& relieved by a Salmon Moon rising.

Butterscotch Tabby

living room
hutch’s cabinets
the feline fatal glances down
at silk flower baskets, inspects it for slinking snakes,
silver-dollar-size cock roaches,
chameleon lizards,
mice, any

Bigfoot Legacy

Pushing past cypress, fir & spruce,
tuffs of coarse hair cling to foliage
a neckless head rests on Joan Crawford-like
shoulders, wood knocking trees, tossing rocks,
lodgepole pines mark territory
crisscrossing saplings, weaving designs
fashion modest, bipedal humanoid nests
less intricate than architectural spiders;
Yeti smiles, winks & sighs at its cousin
through Himalayan blizzards & Pacific tempests
acknowledging both must remain invisible
to perpetuate enigmatic blind devotion.

Howls, squeals, grunts & screeches bounce
off forest walls, reach out to other solitary nomads.

Northwest passageways part like conifer
Red Seas when Sasquatch approaches, its
daily exodus sparks mythic curiosity
activates imaginations, teases Olympic Mountain
tourists whose cellphone cameras flash night
& day attempting to photograph glimpses
of a legend—heartbeats hidden behind a hoax—
promoted by “Bigfoot Crossing” street signs
encouraged via Tillamook giftshop memorabilia:
dashboard figurines that glow in the dark,
plaster of Paris casts of immense ape-like toes,
pungent-leathery musk oil to masque tracker’s scent.

Sand Effigies
For Phil Lange: RIP 2021

Chewing seaweed like tobacco, spitting slimy
green kelp into each series of waves crashing
onto the shoreline, Phil fashioned sculptures
of naked women in the sand, faces to the sun.

He pressed Irish moss around the skulls
resembling roaring twenties it girl bobs;
accenting nipples with periwinkle shells,
creating pubic hair out of sea gull feathers.

Men strolled down Capitola Beach, nodded
their heads in approval, women noted
Phil accurately captured their anatomy
and children giggled at his nude effigies.


Examining palms, searching for lifelines
children pretended they could divine

each other’s futures, delve into past actions,
or pompously insist their proclamations

could temper present judgement, create
allegiances, control their teachers’ minds.

Jessie too claimed visionary clairvoyance
and begged peers to read his palm for proof

yet dirt caked his skin like filthy crepés, covering
his pores, hiding palmar flexion creases,

leaving Jessie outside daily hand reading peers
climbing jungle gyms solo, fortune telling alone.

An author, poet, educator, and Push Cart Nominee, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in such literary magazines, journals, and anthologies as THE FIB REVIEW, BEWILDERING STORIES, ANTI-HEROIN CHIC, THE EKPHRASTIC REVIEW, DANSE MACABRE, POETRY LIFE & TIMES, and THE GALWAY REVIEW. Warner’s volumes of poetry include RAGS AND FEATHERS, WITHOUT WHEELS, SHADOWCAT, EDGES, MEMENTO MORI, SERPENT’S TOOTH, FLYTRAPS: POEMS (2022), and CRACKS OF LIGHT: PANDEMIC POETRY & FICTION 2019-2022—as well as MASQUES: FLASH FICTION & SHORT STORIES. Currently, Warner writes, turns wood, hosts “virtual” poetry readings, and enjoys retirement in Washington state.