Monday, September 30, 2013

Mother's Portrait

In the room of no music
and unlit fires

she hangs between us.

Her fingers continue to pound
the keys in my head

of all her expectations on me,
her hopes in you.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

I’m a bit late, but this is for Margaret’s Artistic Interpretations at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads where she has invited us to concentrate on setting and mood as we write to images she took of place miniatures at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September Wish

photo © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

i know we’ll all
have our winters to face,
and for some, dark skies
may be just down the road—

but today, my hope is for light,
for rest on the journey,
and a place to sip sweet cider
with hints of cinnamon and clove

and autumn’s smile
to come and sit with us,
like a covering of colorful snow,
staying as long as it likes                    

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wrestling with Goodbye

At all the wrong turns
and times, and for the wrong reasons,
we vowed love
through false teeth.

You were looking for a mother
I could never be, an anesthetic
for your terminal sicknesses.
And I was hiding who I was meant to be,
afraid of myself.

I am sorry for the mask
and how long it wore me.
Still, I am not sure if you are as fatally sorry
for this headstone you’ve saddled me with.

No matter—
a dew dropped, more dark than red, rose
waits on the doorstep.
Take it,
I can live with your ghost no longer.

Plus, I’m learning what it’s like to be me    
without you
and how,
to like her.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

*A poem of mine was selected for the dVerse 2nd Anniversary Contest at Boston Poetry Magazine.  I’m thrilled to have had my piece be chosen.  Click here to check it out and read the poems of others who placed in the contest.  Thank you to all the judges and congrats to all the winners!  Great writing, all.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


photo © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

i knew it
butterflies do

in all shapes and sizes

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

Sunday, September 15, 2013

All Your Places

a blurry photo © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

say the names

and see them
like your eyes have hands
to touch them

say the names—aloud
of the places
where all your blood and bliss were sown

say the names

to your children, speak them,
so they can say them
back to you when you’ve grown old

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

Kim Nelson invited us to write a poem about The Places You Love inspired by Sherry Blue Sky’s poem Saying the Names with Love which was inspired by Al Purdy’s poem Say the Names.  I wrote three, but the other two I am still messing with so I am going to link this one to Verse First (very late) and to The Poetry Pantry.  I was really moved by Sherry’s and Al’s poems and when I had read them I immediately thought of a recent trip I took to the Grand Coulee Dam.  I learned that during construction of the dam the reservoir flooded many tribal lands and cultural sites of the local American Indian tribes as well as causing salmon and other fish to be unable to migrate.  I know the dam is very valuable because of the hydroelectric power it generates and irrigation it provides, but these words of Alex Sherwood in this photo from the exhibit brought tears to my eyes.  I kept going back to read them again.  What if my most favored places, the most meaningful to me in my history, were gone or severely altered?  Or, as I have been doing some reading on memory loss, what if it was me who was altered and could not remember “my” places?  I also love the personification Alex gives the river in his words.  His words are poetic to me.  These are long process notes for what is a short poem, so thanks for bearing with me if you stayed to read this long!  Maybe I’ll feel satisfied enough to post the other poems I’ve written inspired by this prompt at a later date.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Finest Thing

High Angle Rescue Drill, Firefighter Ian Wagner
Photos © 2012 Ian and Jennifer Wagner Family

On the deck
sipping the last of summer
from my glass of iced coffee,
I’m drenched in a moment
of luscious sunshine,
one of the few left before
autumn’s return.

I’m watching our youngest boys
with delight—
plastic swords and shields in their hands,
attacking The Alien, also known as
the small green sprinkler
with four arms
and a mind of its own.

A miniscule, slate blue butterfly
flits by
and then a larger one, white and clumsy—
meanders by too.

Does it know where it’s going? 
I like thinking it doesn’t,
it just floats along, discovering.

But I know as I watch
two crows
wave west over my roof,
looking so purposeful,
that there are jobs to do, of course—
and each one of us has our own.

A neighboring apple tree
is nearly full of green-gold apples,
three Asian pear trees are laden too—

our Polynesian neighbor
will fill sacks full of the succulent fruit soon,
drop them off on our porch,
with his brown-sugar fingers
and white smile, wrinkled.

My contentment spreads,
a drunken, giddy peace
in the listening to leaves rustling—
still clinging, green, to trees.

They will fall soon enough,
as time keeps its own pace.

I’ll savor this good day
with the gray day of remembering looming,
ashy, grating,
for the grief of
New York’s Bravest, Best and Finest
and all who fell too soon.

But real, too, is the spirit
of what is the best of us.

And that has lived on.

I know it
in the browned fingers of giving,
in the bright laugh of the innocent,
and in your mouth on my neck—

like a breeze,
like sunshine.

I am reminded,
here, in this moment,
not eclipsed
by any large, evil scheme,
that come what may,

some will continue to Give,



And that is still The Finest Thing
on any given day.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

Thursday, September 5, 2013


In the scablands
I was his sour rose

made from the brittle peel
of a dark and shriveled lime.

I wore heartache on Tuesdays
and stilettos on workdays—

cradling my rusted pride
with strength just enough to throw halite

on the trail of slush
left by his insensate heart.

He simply laughed, depravedly,
Corona spraying from his nose,

until the sting
and watery-eyed regret

saw my frozen eyes, obsidian, indifferent—
to his suffering of half-drunk burns.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

For Laurie Kolp’s prompt at Poetry Jam.

*Halite-aka rock salt, used to melt ice.
*Mexican beer and lime can cause burn marks similar to that of a jellyfish sting.