National Poetry Month: Two poems by Larina Warnock

Stream of Consciousness

By Larina Warnock 

When dust settles over the settlement over 

the mountain towering between  

the lovers no one knew were lovers  

and the others no one wanted  

to know, a single-lane road will travel 

from the canyon to the chasm  

to the hell no one believes  

in, and they will say that road was paved  

with good intentions, and tent cities  

will spring up on either side of the road 

while someone loads trucks and trucks 

and trucks by hand, and they will say  

we’ve done all we can, 

and we’ll wonder if they’re loading  

ventilators, masks,  

or body bags,  

and we’ll pretend we’ve stopped worrying  

about who loves whom and how  

until now  

becomes a synonym for a history we bled 

dry by looking too far behind  

and too long ahead,  

and we will learn  

lies are still lies, secrets still secrets, dead still dead. 

The World is a Comfortable Prison 

By Larina Warnock 


They say the sun sometimes rises 

in Oregon, but all I see are cloud 

white walls billowing between  

me and the Cascades to the east; 


or west, snaking their way amidst trees 

that smatter the Coastal Range 

in green.  Sometimes the valley feels 

like feather grass tucked between 


mountainous seams.  They say days like today 

sometimes pass through volcanic cracks 

of chronology, expand perception in magmic 

streams, but my mind settles more like liquid 


basalt beneath a sun that refuses to rise. 

The scale of the earth is irrelevant— 

neither bigger nor smaller than all 

the I’s that ever looked at her  


and whispered, “Mine.”  They say smoke sometimes 

settles in crevices designed to hold 

oxygen, but drinking industrial plumes  

instead and just as easily 


transforming themselves into grandiose cells 

where a person counts their pennies 

and dimes without malice toward chains 

painted over their ankles, keeping them  


firmly planted in soil they’re certain they own.