The Tint of Sounds


Thunder, iron-hued, while a collection of dancing turns in field clearings. Alabaster breath, leaves pull west and fill.

A look, melic. Morning billowing like sea smoke, the universe reflected in your bearing. I see who I will become by the way you favor talking with your eyes. By the heaving of bark and twig.

We tear hue over electric strain, depth dripping silver, while I cradle my spirit, among other things, brush thudding around us.

And rain, clinking as it blues across

my cheek.



The last few months, I've had the pleasure of collaborating over some art with Chris Behnen (check out more of his films over at Pinstripe Productions). Take a look at his latest film below, titled "You and I," which circles around the conceptual exploration of relationships. "Gather," a poem I wrote to pair with the film, also centers around this concept. If you're not familiar with abstract art, one of its major points is to evoke ideas and questions. We want you to push deeper. We want you to ponder, and we encourage any conversation or wonderings you might have.


Gather by Lauren Bernhagen

Constellation of face—what holiness is this? White sky, four birds left, layer skin on skin on breath on lake on that small organ pumping in your hand.

Morning loch fog-caked, and you, glass for eyes, leaking a glare all over the harbor. Ice chipping communion across drift.

A crack and this deepening. Snow—careful sink. I look, note one thousand portraits hang on the walls of your mind.

Lionheart ache. Doesn’t everyone want to walk off, holding hands with the fiercely gentle?

You small thing. Smoking shard, distance blurred. With soul growing toward water bottom in a rush, you hide to shatter the deep.

We curious people, nervous, filling with grace.

The Murmur


It will be how they remember us. There is glass over dirt here, clouded overImage with the voices of ten thousand souls. I see straight through that window after a regular scan.

In the white clearness of an afternoon, the blankly moving people walk around with their souls scraped clean.

Half of themselves.

We only look to the dropping of the sun, so we can sleep it off or press our organs, dipped in ink, onto a page.

(How brilliant could we grow?)

I’ve taken to drifting off in public places, and once even prayed myself to a cycle of REMs that barely ended.

A whitewashed tomb, this reckoning is, and us.

Cold air seeps, and then, a breath toward the sea.



sunshine,vase,window-24bb3d27dfec7961125053eee06a9c69_hLike a clot in the back of my mind, molassesleak, watery haze, I wade through an aurous-lit kitchen. Idle statues through windows, chalked, flushing vermilion in this early morning rise. We would lay our heads in the trees, under the heaviest of pillows, just to sleep.

Mechlin lace folded, the wood table, a sweetness still hangs. Scent of cloves. We can’t keep it back, clouding over like a hum in our hands. Carried like stars, it glows up and over our ears, until all we hear is light pouring across the sky.

This is the reflection of tears: mirror undercurrent, quivering water in the brain. Not amniotic, but gradually, a thawed constellation.

Shading over everything, we bow without watching to gods who aren’t watching.

How to breathe with all this quiet filling my lungs? Faces like soil, our skin leaking rivers.

The Valley


Streets, thudding with the beat of light,billowing pale, worn fires off the side of roads. A summit in the back, brown rain from prayer dust circling the hordes, their holy shawls. I left the black behind, worlds screaming with leftover souls. We hunt to feel a calypso pulse, anything like pressing water to our faces.

Sole of my cracked heel scratched with the heat of withering blood, on their hands, dead mist. Their eyes, hollow, watch while I do not fear.

Rippling, the tar hammering hues, you've always known I'd come. Deep, the water breathing out like a lung, at the edge of the lake, it flickers; rolling novas in a sea-flushed forest of color. Everything we came for. And then,

the sheer-hushed ivory morning, lacing our eyes up to the sky.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2012

A Collection


I’ve been rolling up the ink- stain tears that you left thrown everywhere – on the trees, the tea scraps, my palm.

I will save them for the day when you can open the cupboards to let some air in and recognize my face.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2012


Indian Winter.


My heart beats in a circle, and I wait for the drum of grey in my chest cavity to hush and see.

This is how we live our days, charging everything into light sockets while the bread turns black and the window sky outside dampens into a cold husk.

I don’t want this to be about the winter or how my soul is all of me, how I just can’t catch it yet. This is how the blue hue, seeping from an outside sun, leaks.

Bodies were made to step along, like the sheerness of water and light. Where the air warms and nightbirds sing.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2012
Photo by: Kike Besada


We are them in many ways,named for past lovers, who fought each day with their spirits lit up in a flare of revel to keep it all close. (There is nothing new under the sun).

I pay homage each time I see you in the hall and when I sit with my back to the bedpost and reach up to hold your hand while you pass from throb to thought.

This room has been walked in before, and the walls ache just like the rest of the world. It is the freeze of the death; the mourning of blood from our thoughts.

This is a hotel of hearts. Choose carefully, choose nothing?

I walk until I reach the dawn.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2012

The Crack in the Atlas

On 94, I thoughtOh, the states are two planes, and I am driving up the shape of the border. (We are only colors on the map.) Did you know city lights sink loudly and pulse because I leave the house? Well, they do. Now I am in the flat part where the buildings are cold and look like a semi-truck should be parked out front.

In this hollow car, I am waiting to be chipped into a batch of ice, so I can be the bright puddle of home that I was in the month of the bells.

At the top of the world is the face of the lake where the water looks at a dark sky and remembers.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2012

Terra Firma.

These vents of ocean that I seal up, often, are what’s made this room inside me dark and folded over.

Smut steeps, clamped into shapes from my fist, and the light hue in the corner only catches at the golden cow when I watch carelessly.

If I flip the latch and the metal inlet swings open, this room                       changes. You said you loved me with many doors, and I asked how that was possible since I’ve ripped all the frames into slips of paper and lodged them in crags and under the geologic fault lines.

But I see now that the earth is simmering joy and you love widely. This night is only gauze we can carefully sling back and wind around our wrists before it aches.

The tallest trees have roots in the sky.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2012

Above Us, the Thaw.

With two days in my palm, I’m starting again in the blurry heat of a cold winter night on the back porch.

Pull back the shade from the sky so I can see the status of the atmosphere unrolling.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2011


The sea flush shudders with thefractures of bone or animal husks, the lost furs. Only the edges uneasily cover themselves before the sweep of water. There is a dark space at the base of the tree, after the sand, where the hollows were found, and I treasured the blank, glazed leaves left over from a flare of a summer. (We shift to pitch the green.) The ash on the doorposts softened at noon, so I massed the arrowheads together, took down the flags, and brought the buckets meant for rainfall and other things back inside. There is a maturing of the deep, the soil is creaking an aged bond. We can’t help but pool the lake in our pockets and carry this hurtling reservoir in heaps past the branch cavities to the door.

What I buried is pressing to light.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2011

If you're going to walk on the white.

I've been seeking truth in several areas regarding the Lord and His love as of late. I've felt pretty cushioned by the Holy Spirit this last month, like I have pillows on all sides of me. There's really no other place I want to be right now. I know this poem is loosely tethered, but my heart is very much in this place. Trying to aim for truth. If you're going to walk on the white side of the curb, by the gutter, and search for deader plants behind the sewer grates, slowly, then I will wait. I guess. I halted in this frothy glasshouse, damp before it was silent, but still deadening in the weight of its sliding sheets of pale or thin light. I sat between the vines to be in the state of the glorified libraries and the tilting cathedrals with their fallen doors, the basilicas that have torn down their own wallpapers and repainted curious images of antiseptic gods on insubstantial sanctums. We could always see through the fake beams the modern chaplains innately rooted like boorish trees that snake through the Amazon. Looking up the curved, impressionistic dome toward the keynote core that leveled the force of the angels, you told me of how it used to be, how it really is - deep - rumbling down through the stratums of the ocean and latching on to both sides of the continent (and we are covered still). It is an exquisite following. The smell of the hickory pew and melted candlesticks is what I remember the least.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2011

crows & locusts.

The fields are bleeding.It's been seven years, they say. The foxes ran through and set the wheat on fire after the ruling and the tribes melted into their armor. I drop this pottery in the dust by my feet, and it breaks and scatters before I can gather the blue-hewn chips into neat, small piles with my hands. The burnt powder on my forearms was always red and dark, ready for hotter deserts or a more sacred harvest, so I will stand under this tree even if this tree doesn't want me. The women are still there with their baskets. You told me my hair was like rain or looked like I had stolen something in the afternoon light, and I vended the rocks you left just so you'd tell me to stop. Even so, you unhitched the smoke-dried knots and pulled down the fastened arches between the mounts. Everything was flooded then. Now, we walk on brittle land and crack whips without thinking.

The fire is coming down.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2011

"I could have stretched forth My hand and stricken you... and you would have been effaced from this earth. Nevertheless I have spared you for this purpose in order to show you My power..."           Exodus 9:15-16

onion, lantern, money.

Nights too, it seems a risk to sleep;I remember you walking by the cathedral, head down, a bucket of clouds and oil smeared above. You were waiting to be strewn by my brush or hand, rearranged and altered in the white spaces. But it never worked, really, Or at least that's what you said.

It was strict, the way we walked; only your shoulder remained obscene, but I never wished that or our perforations away. And now you sit on my bench under the spruce, a cup of cold water in your hand that you won't look up from.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2010


The locale of forests changes with each window,one eyelid shut signifies a deadness of character.

I wonder what it feels like to be curled up in that eggshell, anywhere but here. We always sleep and then suffer splinters from wooden sills.

Collecting debris-filled nights to throw out with the garbage has become a full-grown habit; or rather, we've always piled them in heaps outside the window.

This laying in the dirt never really helped you see the lighthouse in the shrubbery. The curtain creases are still sewn shut.

The space between the sheets could not grow wider if you yelled at me. (You saw what I did through the shutters).

We can never rest in this train of a bed that sinks through the floor; superimposed on the temporal lobe are the trees I stamp out in brain shapes.

The roar of the iron mine can still be heard from the bottom of the mattress. Apertures in the wall show strings we untied from branches.

Victims of unraveling quilts and alliances rarely make it these days. The frozen glass panes are cracking from the inside.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2010

No, You Must Still Sit in Gardens

It's always a daunting thing to be gluedto the roads that we walked. You can make your hands mark the street lines for four hundred paces, explaining. Rehearse that road with me, I say from behind this lovely, rusted patina. Mesh your hands with the yellow paint. Explicate, recollect. We children often bury cars and trains in this deep earth but are never found in mounds ourselves. Except for these days. In this interval, the pines still turn. In this interval, the cracked wheat of your fingers is sifting through the picture box, each armoire and empty dollhouse, the swing bellies and tire treads. In this interval, the houseboats, low in the bloated green water, are still leaving port. These portraits of where we stood are delicate.

This is not how your tired arms wanted to rest, cleaning your own spilled milk in the street and eating with only one lamp on. My tiny name, still written in the dust on the coffee table, neighbor to the house fern, will remain in your mind as the houseboats, stationary and moving - - silt and tokens in your mourning robe pocket, preserving and preserving my return to the root of it all.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2010

i place my hand on this drift.

This scene is what it is: acquainted. I rest like old rusty coins at the bottom of that lake.

Burrowed into the bottom of a mechanic's jacket,

but that's not who gave it to me

(this is not a love story).

It's novel and fitting like our professor's leather suitcase

but with the latch unbuckled and flapping as he walks.

I could lay on the back of the couch this afternoon,

feel the back vertebral column synchronize my spine

and be still.

Yesterday, when I sat stroking the skeleton of a fan,

I remembered the pearl cufflink I found on the windowsill,

rare like an owl feather.

O keep us from the flash of the world.

Unbend, unbend, and hinge;

This pleads raw and organic and unconcealed.

a lone bulb wrung from a power line,

shattered under the weight.

But the shards have a pulse.

They're beating on the ground.

© Lauren Bernhagen 2010


The shingles are flying off the roofin one line like a road you have to walk. Please don’t scratch your hair until that section of your mind underneath disappears. Stop pouring your tea into air vents and the potholes in the street. You have a jar of cold water and a bag full of cranberries, exactly twenty-one. I’ve tied names like Astrid and Ingrid with twine to my steering wheel; and really, there’s only a year and a thousand miles between all our wooden chairs and yours. I wouldn’t worry.