Sterling Warner is a Washington-based author, educator, and Pushcart nominee for poetry. Warner’s works have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as Poetry Life & Times, Street Lit., The Ekphrastic ReviewAnti-Heroin Chic, The Fib Review, and Sparks of Calliope. Warner also has written seven volumes of poetry, including Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Memento Mori: A Chapbook Redux, Edges, Rags & Feathers, Serpent’s Tooth, Flytraps  and  Cracks of Light: Pandemic Poetry & Fiction (2022)—as well as. Masques: Flash Fiction & Short StoriesCurrently, he writes, turns wood, and hosts virtual poetry readings.

Lava Lamps

Entering my apartment ten to twelve
an arctic air blast air hit me as I opened
the door, followed by an ebon pitch—

except in the corner where my lava lamp
distinguished itself among all elements
and inanimate items, casting muted light

with its ever so fastidious lava churning
making remarkable shapes that appeared
as apparitions one moment and blobs

of energy even Steve McQueen would
appreciate the next; random sized
forms morphed into mythic creatures

as the night grew darker and minds took
lava lamp leaps of faith finding imaginative
impressions—a carnival of painted faces

or a crown of thorns—sights that became
more absurd yet distinct as we listened
to Pink Floyd…understood the moon’s dark side.

Listening to Nakai

Wooden throated flute song
winds no horse trainer can harness
travel back and forth soothingly, lightly, like
downy feathers floating 
breeze back in spring, settling
nowhere, just filling a void
rising, fading, reappearing on horizon’s forehead
slapping watercolor granite mountains, bouncing
back into the valley invigorated,
reinvented, falling into Dawn’s cupped
hands, liberated from nightfall’s silent embrace. 
Nakai, I hear you, like
whispering reeds, notes bunch together
only to push apart. Bear
walks between us, claws bark from
imaginary trees—I shudder, the
cacophony sending me to smoky
dens, iniquity’s stepchildren,
elders cross-linking
saplings and bone to fortify structures
shaping today’s creations, a balancing
act framing future losses . . . still listening,
listening to fluttering birds on wing,
sunlight’s noon advancement,
twilight’s amorous fan,
starlight’s flirtatious wink,
spontaneously accepting the
wavering wooden flute voice
nakedly shaking like a nervous lover,
clothes falling to the floor apprehensively, yet
in perfect accord with the moment.

Blue Collar Elizabethan

Mom bought me a work shirt
embroidered a facsimile
of Queen Elizabeth I on the back
expecting me to wear it
when I’d go out to Friday night
middle school dances held
in a gym—I obliged…still,
a conversation piece I didn’t need;
dark corners where we’d discuss
the Vietnam War (code for making out)
left little time & even less space
until late fall when I felt
perfumed hands trace knotted
lines & needle points; I can’t
remember her name—only
that she claimed to have been
Elizabeth Regina in a past life;
she thanked me for my patronage
& disappeared in the girl’s locker room;
I waited—futilely—expecting her to emerge
with arabesque precision & renaissance
glory, exalting an Elizabethan mystique.