Issue > Poetry
Noah Warren

Noah Warren

Noah Warren is the author of The Complete Stories (Copper Canyon, 2021) and The Destroyer in the Glass (2016), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he is currently pursuing a PhD in English at U.C. Berkeley.


The tattered patio umbrella
flutters gently its fringe

like a brown trout its gills,
slower and slower,

as your fingers tighten
into its belly—soft as bread—

in that moment after your father
growls Get it over with

and you crack its head
twice on the gunwale.


Put your head in its mouth, you said.
Why. You'll see. So I did, crouched

and straightened up into its shoulder.
My neck, crooked, stiffened; a purple
dimness hooded vision, my pupils

laked, I wobbled, gripped its tongue, my brain
shriveled as the tang rose up my nose,

burst coldly as cocaine. 
Outside I knew an iron sky
was tumbling down into the city;

outside, our fitful friend- and courtship
swung from joke to desperate joy

to use; but in the shell, as my breathing slowed,
from concentric tensions of its frozen form,
from stuffy silence, rose a slender moan
that a soft palm pressed perhaps would calm,
that I could barely hear, not knowing if I heard

only my blood's distorted roar, or
the whisper of a captive draft or—
a small true note, the hum

of local order.
Standing, cramping in its center

I felt minutes fade, then the sound,
and I had two bodies, two skins, I was
bell-thin, I tightened toward the coming blow:
then you climbed in.
Then you climbed in.

We are that we do not know.


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