Sylvia and I


Sylvia and I sat in opposite corners, 

she, a person allowed visitations 

only with a chaperon

her aunt 

needle eyed harpy

as ancient as 

Babylonian gardens, 

forgiving as any vigilante, 

knitted Costa Rican quilts as we spoke,

weighing our words with the 

measured precision of a medieval apothecary

just waiting for glances or vocabulary to censure.


The living room rug between us got old

while Sylvia’s passions blossomed into 

Catholic girl intensity and earthy devotion; 

I, a lone figure of guilt, contemplated opportunity,

in fascination and terror, watched

traditional cultural values tossed aside like old clothes, as

Sylvia celebrated assimilation among San José’s populace,

subdued by the same magic as Miranda’s

brave new world wonders.


After buying me Surrealistic Pillow,

the metaphor and core of our romance,

she’d sneak out nights wearing 

a long coat and boots, 

pelt my bedroom window with pea gravel,

signaling a successful household break; primed to

meet in wooden tract home frames, we’d

revel in the shadows, rolling amid sawdust,

scraping against metal socket slugs, 

staring at stars through unshingled roofs, 

walking home in different directions,

one categorizing details for this week’s confession, 

the other leaving Rome even farther behind.





Circus of the Sun


Beatles in Las Vegas, 

LOVE takes shape, masquerades as

Cirque du Soleil theatre:

Arms catching arms,

legs linking legs, the fab four  

back to life in 2006, 

forty years after the

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club

shook rhythm and blues at the roots,

bedrock British invader’s   

concept recording inspired

countless other albums, artists— on

both sides of the Atlantic—that   

hit or missed like

flying trapeze artists out to entertain,

catching swinging bars at the last moment

without regret, 

without net.


The Circus of the Sun

cradles spellbound spectators

revitalizes the past, 

conjures Liverpool apparitions, 

John, Paul, George, and Ringo, to an 

palatial present venue, 

showcases their likenesses,

weds original choreography to

weeping guitars and timeless tunes

—“Norwegian Wood,” “Eleanor Rigby,” 

“Come Together,” “Let It Be”—

remastered musical might, transforms the 

Mirage, home of white tiger illusionists, 

creating a future mop-headed legacy where unified, 

global audiences depart shoulder to shoulder, 

singing, “All You Need Is Love,” 

sans exotic animals,

sans Zigfried, 

sans Roy.




Zim’s Femme Fatale


Like Mata Hari, Nico—

The Lady from Shanghai—

Entered Zims shrouded in 

Mystery, misery, and malice;

Wearing seven North Beach veils, 

San Francisco’s Salome danced 

Over to my meager dining table,

A ceiling fan breeze jostling her

Loose hair like a halo.


She sat down like she knew me,

Dampened fingers in a water glass,

Made circles around its lip ‘til it 

Began to sing as pure as a crystal goblet.

Exotic, distant, enticing, the 

Kohl around her eyes seemed lifted from 

Theta Bara’s Cleopatra, while silver scaled

Asps enclosed arms—mystified a bedroll carriage

Befitting Gold Mountain’s homeless femme fatal.


Ah, but she’s gangsta, streetwise, 

Sorely convinced her siren whistle and

Bling-bling would bend my knees

Pull me in her corner, make me

One of Circe’s swine—sever

My allegiance to common sense,

Favor daring escapades— her 

Husky inquiry resounded a clarion call,

“Do you have a sleeping bag?”


Caution checked curiosity 

‘Til with one quick coy wink, 

Her false lash freely fell from an 

Egyptian framed eyelid; then

She let out a banshee’s battle cry, a

Wail that shook all Zim’s patrons

Like a San Franciscan earthquake before

SF’s Salome stormed the bathroom; I paid

My bill in double, escaped a crooked desire. 


© Sterling Warner


Bio:  He is an author, poet, and educator.  His works have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as IN THE GROVETHE FLATBUSH REVIEW, STREET LIT: REPRESENTING THE URBAN LANDSCAPEAMERICAN MUSTARD,THE ATHERTON REVIEW, and METAMORPHOSES. His poetry collections include: WITHOUT WHEELS, SHADOWCAT, EDGES, andRAGS AND FEATHERS