Thursday, December 31, 2015


christmas eve 2015 © jennifer wagner

All the

all the

wishing you

all the

for 2016.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Harold Angels

When I was six
my grandfather, Harold, died--
though I never called him “Grandfather”
and definitely never “Harold.”

Grampa” was a much more suitable term
for a brown cigarette smoking, Hee Haw watching,
on-raw-hamburger-and-eat-it kind of guy.

So when I heard “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,”
I tried to picture it: all the Harold angels
up there,

I loved him,
but if you'd have known Grampa
you'd have had your doubts, too.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Love Poem Should Be Spent

When you write a love poem
on the palm of your hand,
the kind that's meant to stick,

and blow it away
like a kiss,

if it returns
on wings, crispy-black,
falls like St. Helens' ash,

that's when you'll know
it worked.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Poem I Choose Today

In the wild wood
there are poems everywhere:

forest grouse, bright berries, late blossoms,
little sounds our feet make
on the undergrowth.

In the streets
there are poems, poems everywhere:

cigarette butts, Christmas lights, hurried voices,
the scent of roasted beans
wafting from coffee bars.

But here beside you,
tangled breaths
like drenching rain,

are more.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to Write a Poem

Author Tania Runyan surprised me by requesting to include a poem of mine in her book How to Write a Poem.  This work is a companion volume to How to Read a Poem.  Both books are recommended for those new to or seasoned in the art of writing or the enjoyment of reading poetry.  Click on the book image above (or on the sidebar) to read more about this work and to order your copy from Amazon.

Thank you Tania and T.S. Poetry!

Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating!  Enjoy your holiday!

Saturday, November 21, 2015


He sat in front of me
in third grade
and turned and stuck his tongue out.
His mom later told mine
he had a crush on me.
I did not like either of these things.

I didn't know why
he called me
when his dad called him
from the drunk tank--
unsure and hurting, preteen boy,
abandonment in his voice.

When bullies
carried him
into the bathroom
I saw his scared/brave smile
trying to laugh
at this brand of middle school hell, and walk out,
hair wet and freshly “swirlied.”

I ignored him all school year long
then let him kiss me on a dare
in summer.
I could have gotten out of it.
Never told him it was my first.
Started dating his cousin, the next day.

Walking across the field
from the annex
in high school,
I heard the sirens, saw the lights,
knew it was him, somehow.

Weeks later,
peering through
the screen door at dusk, he appeared
needing to talk.

The overdose
had made him sober, changed,
at least for a while.

His sad, teary eyes,
that lonesome ache in his voice,
and could he,
come over tomorrow?”

No,” I said.
And had to say it again.

I knew it, then,
when my dad asked,
what did he want?”
Though I shrugged and said I didn't know,
I said to myself, “a savior.”

And learned
for the first time
that sometimes
you have to say no
as much for someone else
as for yourself.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


On the shower wall
this morning
I saw
a baby chick, mouth open.

On the other,
the curve of a question mark
without the dot.

I'm growing my hair out;
loose, wet strands land in shapes
of my own mind's making.

But you
may have seen something else

instead of these
unfinished questions,

answers not yet forming,
and time

the water cold.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Photo © 2015 Jennifer Wagner

If smiles light up rooms,
yours lights up a thousand
rooms in my heart-dark-need
for such a beacon.

Yours, my own little
prince of peace.
Yours, my own little
light of the world.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

After Suicide

He still goes over to his house,
sits in his room,
says a lifetime of goodbyes to ashes
--what's left
when the oxygen of hope thins,
choked out by the rasping fire-of-lies
believed at just-turned twenty.

Remembering often in stories,
as the living do
of the dead--
he laughs,
breaks, bitterly.

And when reads to me what he writes,
how it is to lose a brother,
memorializing what was,
he ends it
the only way he can.

You don’t know what you’ve done to me.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

At the end of August my son's best friend since he was 11 years old committed suicide at the age of 20. A crater-sized hole has been created, and though I know it is a pain that will remain for the rest of his life, I pray for it to lessen for him and for all those who loved Baily. He is greatly missed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Prince and me, circa 1977

He was puffy and fluffy
and rarely barked.

I was in the car
that ran over him
the night he died. Six years old

and sitting in the backseat
between my mom and Shirley
as we headed out for dinner. Louie’s Chinese.

Shirley’s husband, Harry,
was the driver. A sweet, adorable man.
A diabetic whose foot later developed gangrene.

He felt terrible, of course.

I felt indescribable.

How do you say
how you feel,
your first prince’s yelps
stinging everything?

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Moment at Twilight

This poem may not hold up
to the elements,
in fact it may
float away with the cherry blossoms,
bleed away with the swell of the sea,
wash away with the rain.
But I wrote it
and you read it
and for the moment
that is enough.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

I began this poetry blogging journey three years ago in May and it has been a most enjoyable experience. I have enjoyed the work of many talented poets, writers, photographers, and artists of many types and I am grateful to you all for sharing yourselves through your work, and for your support of and interest in mine. I'll be taking a break from blogging for a while and this site will be going into hibernation. My plan is to return some months from now. My email address,, will continue to remain active. Take care and enjoy your journey!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Upon Departure

He calls to say
he'll be late:

had a D.O.A.
at shift change

(paperwork still to be completed,
tasks to be checked off).

And I can't help but think
that is
how it is,

for the lady who succumbed,
for the sister, now, who had been taking care of her,
for each of us

one day.



© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Stretched out on the grass
looking up at the stars,
hands tucked behind their heads,
feet crossed at the ankles, bellies full--
fat for the sacrifice
of what lurks, stalks them
in the dark: werewolves, zombies, orcs . . .

While dragons skitter-fly by
on iridescent wings
they craft stories
from far away worlds
to see which of them
can scare the others most.

A fir wood fire crackles in the pit.
Marshmallow bits stick to their lips.

Can I have your room when you move out?”

Laughing, with brave faces,
their eyes in firelight reflect the wonder
of what it will be like to be the first to leave,
be the ones left behind.

A large spark darts skyward
splitting unspoken thoughts
and they turn back to stories of goblins, of ghosts,
on this warm night in brothertime,
shaking off the growing chill
of jitters a bit more real.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

For dVerse Poetics: Brothers/Brotherhood. Hope you come and join in the fun!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sailin' On

She has an oil tanker sized chip on her shoulder
and it's become the only thing I see.
But still I play nice,
though my loyalty is waning.

It's not so much giving up on her
as it is giving up on it: loyalty,
probably my best and worst trait
when it comes to those I love.

But, it's time,
because oil tankers are no beauty queens
while ugliness spills like the Exxon Valdez,
and because I am bound for fairer seas.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dear April

image © 2015 Jennifer Wagner,
photo of my home calendar

You don't fool me. Though
you start off that way.

Yes, you slosh rain
from infinity buckets,
but you smile
just the same
from the ground up--
jelly bean tulips and buttery daffodils
springing round
like long-lost jewels.

And even though it's time
for the bogey-tax-man,
you balance him
with a month of poetry
and the crack
of a bat and Big League Chew
(Original, Grape, Sour Apple, and Watermelon!).

So, you're not really fooling me, April,
as much as you think you are.

T.S. Eliot said you are
the cruelest month,” but
at least more often than in March,
there is guaranteed
one Good Friday
and a Resurrection reminder
(coming back from the dead
really can't be beat).

Plus, your flower is the daisy (my favorite)
or the sweet pea,
which always reminds me
of the song my dad would sing,
Oh, Sweet Pea, come on and dance with me . . .”
riding along with him in his truck--

after which he'd switch it off
to bellow into the CB,
breaker 1-9, this is Gladiator.”
No one's dad is as
cool and tough as a Gladiator, right?

you don't fool me, April.
I think you kind of like me.

P.S. I kind of like you, too.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

And, Happy National Poetry month!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Image by Karsten Hohmeier
Every now and then
a poem stays with me
or a line

gets stuck
in the groove of the vinyl
of my mind,

like you do,
and I let it play.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Poetry Pantry

Friday, March 27, 2015


Image by Dawn Hudson
I'm a patchwork sketch
with patchouli rest
between my breasts---
and you
press, indent,
your heart
around me.

And this,
keeps me here---clear,

as each window lilac breeze,
each fringe and tassel,
wisp of candle flame,
needs a frame.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Wedding Gift

The chime is engraved
with a lighthouse,
a harbor,
a ship on the sea.

It hangs from the eaves
above our deck

and has, for nearly
seventeen years,
sprinkled its tune
at every house
we've called home.

It fell
in a major storm,

was never broken, but
lay serenely
at our feet

ready to give light, melody.

And though
I tire of wind,
of storms,
it's taught me to listen,
                       trust light
play on.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015


Toril “Smells Like Rain”

Winter moans elsewhere ---but here
within me,
yesterdays roam,

Like spring rain. Staccato.

My poems are wet ash.
My skin, sand through hourglass.

I make
for shelter,
a grain too late---

in clouds of least favorable reflection.
And though I'm determined to at least pace them,

I know
I can never outrun
the rain.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

For Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Art with Toril.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

the best bouquet

smells like
            of glue

stuck to
            red tissue paper
green pipe cleaners

in a chubby fist

just below


© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

semper augustus

a garnet-streaked tulip, valentine,

in a field of daffodils
more yellow
than the newborn springtime sun

more welcome
than my favorite denim, softest sweater,
my cowgirl boots

and, seeming
like lace and pearls
by the bed, on the floor
come morning

is found,
           and flaming,

between us

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

a little bit of a late valentine...smiles. for ian.

the semper augustus was the most rare and valuable tulip at the height of tulipomania in the 17th century ($5,700 for a single bulb!).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cannot Stop It

It sickles out a living
when you're not looking,

takes a piece of you,
leaves a part of it
on you, in certain scars,
you can never shake.

Sometimes it's something
you hope you'll get
to sleep through,
like when the babies
finally keep bellies
full enough
for you to miss midnight--
your circadian rhythm,

But even though
you think
you're ready,
you're not yet ready-ready,
and tend to say,
it's coming, one day,

though you know enough
to know
it's already here.

© 2015 Jennifer Wagner

Title spun from Emily Dickinson's “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.”