Monday, October 29, 2012

Night Witches (Nachthexen)

They flew in the cold,
in the pitch-blackness of an evil sky,
riddled with bullets.

No radios.

No parachutes.

2 bombs.

Engines cut
on the Polikarpov U-2,
to creep
up on sleeping monsters,

to visit their dreams
with light,
and bring the Reich and Reign
closer to hell.

Started them up
in mission, resolute,
crawling out on the wings,
on a limb,

for the rest of us.

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner


Did you know women flew airplanes in combat in WWII?  I didn’t until I visited the Flying Heritage Museum recently.  The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was made entirely of women who flew the PO-2.  They would sneak up on the enemy by cutting their engines, drop bombs, and then restart their engines to get away; even crawling out on the wings, mid-flight when necessary, to get the props going.  And then go and do it all over again throughout the freezing night.  Truly heroic.  The Nazis began to refer to them as Night Witches because of the terror this tactic inflicted.  Seemed like the right time of year to write about them.

The photos:  (top) a few of these amazing aviators.   And (right) the PO-2, the tail number honors the 23 who earned "Hero of the Soviet Union" citations. And (left) the lettering on the fuselage translates into "Revenge for Dusya," a tribute to the first Night Witch to be killed in combat.  30 of them were lost in all.  If you click any of the links here I recommend the "Revenge for Dusya"...really some fascinating reading from the book A Dance with Death.

Linking up to OpenLinkNight at dVerse, an amazing site for poetry.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


cobwebs thick upon your hands
dirt underneath your nails
embedded deep


you feel the crust
of tears and dirt
stuck to your lashes
            your nostrils

you make shallow breaths
repeat your name

you are

not                   dead                 yet

remind yourself
to come back
to the living

keep scratching and clawing


someone will need

your survival story one day

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wild Peaches and the River

 She tucked me into bed,
wrapped me in
an age-worn quilt
and I slept like the baby I nearly was.

When I woke,
I pulled the quilt around me
and tiptoed across the old wood floors
covered with braided rugs.

Rubbing sleep from my eyes,
I entered the kitchen
and watched her sitting at the farm table,
with a cup of steaming coffee, slicing a wild peach.

Her hands were still strong then;
and even now I never see a peach,
smell one, taste one,
without thinking of her.

She laughed, her mellow way, eyes crinkling,
when I said how much I liked the sweetness
but not the fuzzy skin which poked
like a prickly moustache against my mouth.

Overheard her saying, later
that she ‘got tickled’
when I’d said the pigs rooting in the pen
looked like they had ribbons in their tails.

When I’d trailed her
to the rabbit cages
and saw a mama rabbit
eat her own baby

she didn’t shield me
from the horror of it,
but let me ask the hard questions
and answered them, best she knew.

‘Fascinating’ is what I’d called it,
when asked about it back home.
And she was, too,
though I never said it.

Except at the cemetery overlooking the river
when I wished her back
to see me enjoy the sweetness in my life,
to bring lightness when it poked;

and because the questions
have only gotten harder.
But mostly, to hear her ‘tickled’ laughter
one more time.

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner

For Grandma.  Rest in peace, we so often rested in yours.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Troll Bridge

facing the winter
of a hearse driven life
you soldier on
with skeletons in the closet
clacking along

the last frost covered leaf
curled and brown, laced with silver,
blows away in the wind

the wind,
there to bite you
sting you,
 remind you

of regrets and demons without, within—cackling
in the still-deadness
where your still-living questions
ask if you have left
them behind

they pick lustily
at your flesh, with tempting,
at your mind, with amoebic doubts—
troll-like, in a present-day quagmire
on one side of the bridge; whereupon crossing
you hear a voice
which says to Call This

The Bridge Where You Rename Yourself

                                                    And Forgiven, And Worth

                       Overcomer                                                                        Being

Names like                                                                                                                  Loved

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner

Inspiration: Isaiah 62, Revelation 2, and a dream that woke me up

For the prompt at Poetry Jam and for  Poets United Poetry Pantry

*Note: this piece doesn't read right on most hand-held devices.  For accuracy read on a larger screen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Baiting Hooks with Luke

At 9 years old
it’s funny how
half the bait slips off the hook
before it hits the water.


A lonely barely-bit of bait,
not worth a triploid trout’s time, really—
makes it
into Rufus Woods Reservoir.

He shrugs, though, good enough—
just to get it out there,
sits down on the dusty rock
and waits
for a pulse on the line.

He owns this moment
as I watch him
smile a bit,
flick his foot in the water,
and gaze at the opposing hills;
while I wonder
what he’s thinking.

No more than half a minute goes by, and

‘Got one’ he says, not surprised, at all—
and begins reeling;
the rest of us look at each other,
shake our heads,
and laugh a bit in disbelief.

Something about
the faith of a child
to know you don’t have to
be perfect,

sometimes fish
are just hungry.

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner

to be linking up with the amazing poets at dVerse Poets Pub this week

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Inconsequentially Rotating the Ball

yoga, green tea, SUV
pop culture, church, reality TV
and don’t forget trips to Ha-wa-ii
raining down words
while sitting fat
like Jabba the Hutt
on a throne
of carc-ass-es

children of the same god

Mother Teresa should send us all to our rooms
to think about it

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner

i like some of the things i’ve listed here, so this is not meant to offend anyone if they like any of them too…it’s just thoughts about what’s important on this big ball we live on and what we do, and don’t do, on it…

Monday, October 1, 2012

Never Lose the Ability to Get Lost

blonde and brown
heads bobbling
with energy
they, like arrows,
pierce the earth
with exuberance
never losing
their silly, boyish grins
as i watch them
jumping, bouncing
wrestling each other
on the trampoline
where they forget
brotherly offenses
i hope they never lose this
ability to get lost
in the moment
with laughter
and forgiveness
like dollops of rain
drenching the
thirsty onlookers
and me the memory of it

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Wagner

my boys and how they work things out, my favorite people to watch…meant to link up to Brian Miller’s people watching poetics prompt, 6 Billion Others at dVerse, but got busy and was too late…so I’ll be linking it to openlinknight