“Lady of Shalott,” oil on canvas, by John William Waterhouse, 1888.

Modern Witchcraft: A Business Meeting

She barks orders to the men
Mezzo voice raised only to win
An argument had over again
Hurls logic, her powers ten
Times the size of her candescent body.

She bursts, like birthing waters,
Ideas a womb for daughters
Whose issues, the only ones slaughtered
By Calvinists, an ideology fathered,
With purpose, to keep the resilient out.

She negotiates, proves able
To withstand every name, label
Cadaver pages thrust over tables
A grimoire aged into fable
Once magic now lost in enlightenment

Oppression’s cauldron, she pulls the spell
That eases pain she’s endured so well
Giving in not up, her soul she sells.
Yet inside the buzz grows, she can’t repel.
With hands bound her fire takes to the sky.


Ode to Procrastination

I polish my laptop screen
to delay the morning
with Windex, with towel, with squeegee,
thinking I’ll see the screen clearer,
without streaks masking words,
and somehow the writing will get better.



Your door was open and I imagined that you were sitting at your desk, waiting to hear my keys jangle as they bounced off my hip, hanging from my maroon and knotted lanyard. But of course you weren’t there, you wouldn’t leave hundreds of fingerprints on your glass table, you wouldn’t let the chairs sit ajar.

I sat down at your table and I wrote. The words came, that was all that mattered. Then, for you, I pulled out those wet Clorox wipes, the ones that leave your hands feeling sticky, and make you go into that private bathroom to rinse them off.

I erased the traces of intruders. I moved the chairs—careful to space them evenly between each other in their rows, line them up in columns. A table for your table.


Symptoms of a Brain Injury

Amnesia in children
often caused by seeing their fathers without facial hair
a complication of surgery
Moving cross country
Seeking help from family members
who are better left in the dark,
Moving to a hotel,
Moving again
into the family business and living out of the break room for a night
Moving to an apartment
Moving in with your grandparents,
Building a house
so that things will seem okay,
Lost jobs
Building another house
because things are okay
Another lost job and the house
Losing your childhood
Losing your sense of self
caused by studying the brain in college
Other brain injuries
(These will be without cause)

Your neurologist won’t tell you
brain injuries are hereditary

Ashley K. Warren is author of the chapbook Today’s Body. She also writes fiction and nonfiction and her work has appeared in various publications. A graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program, she has taught creative writing at Montana State University, Billings and in Billings public schools through the nonprofit organization Arts Without Boundaries.