Sterling Warner

Random Imaginings

Bus stops become welcome wagons
liquid lunches replace baloney sandwiches

art deco skyscrapers jut out boldly
like mushrooming steel mountains

awaiting eager bodies to stuff cubicles
fill empty chambers where employees

embark on clandestine endeavors, 
redact top-secret studies, emphasize

transparency with lime-colored highlighters;
dutiful stiff necks click like ratchet wrenches 

as eyes lower, roll, seek deliverance
from cold Starbuck’s coffee, dull #2 pencils,

white-collar sweatshops’ minimal work ethic; 
tie-dye sweatbands absorb teardrop perspiration

while thoughts drift from inner-city turmoil
to the marine layer pushing mist over cedar forests,

saturating reddish bark, dripping down
peeling crevices, clinging to blue-green needles 

like a damp grey comforter surrounding 
conifer pyramids—random imaginings 

that fall intermittently like deodar cones 
on steamy metropolis wayside streets.


So, where the hell did my better angels go? 
Only questionable voices spirit me onwards 
encourage acts of dead faith, meager virtue,
weak character. From early hours when
               robins peek out of straw-woven nests
               till late night where bats flee belfries,
               the bad angel on my shoulder subverts
commendable instincts, corrupts honorable
intentions, convinces me my own blood
matters more than righteous causes 
championed by good angels a long time past.

Virtuous and depraved mal'akh lurch on my clavicle,
whisper salacious advice, enjoy exceptional vantage 
points to debate enumerable merits of all my actions;
but, oh! Traitorous Lucifer, haughty Mephistopheles,
scholarly Jophiel, flying Beelzebub capriciously stir                         
               the darker side of my wayward conscience;
               there goodness’s swept into guilt’s dusty corners
concealed since religious instructors forbade me
to speakxx or proselytize about Seraphim or Dominions 
unless referring to sizable choirs dancing on pinheads
& Gabriel blowing horns on New Orleans crossroads.

An award-winning author, poet, and Evergreen Valley College English Professor, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies such as Danse Macabre, Poetry Life & Times, and Otoliths. Warner’s poetry/fiction collections include Rags & Feathers, Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Edges, Memento Mori, Serpent’s Tooth, Flytraps (2022) and Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories. Currently, Warner writes, hosts/participates in “virtual” readings, and enjoys Washington retirement.
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