Showing posts with label Ax to the Root. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ax to the Root. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


International District, Seattle WA
Photo © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

she felt just like
the used condom,
amidst the cigarette butts
and partially eaten food.

The refuse
stacked up,
lining the side streets
and back streets
of the insides of her,
piling up
on her chalk outline.

Wasn’t she
what had been done to her?

But the point of no return
to what               
she thought of herself
was the road less traveled,
            a cross in the path—
and the journey upward,
a process
with the things
she has chosen to leave behind;

and that has made all the difference.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

A little bit of a spin off Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Notes from the Bloodwater

What you don’t know is
the wolves came when I was much too young
and sunk their teeth into the deep of me and left a hole.

The surgeries to repair the damage
have not yet gone far enough,
and so I carry this wreckage around inside
where I’ve hidden them
and stretched Kevlar over the scars.

Sometimes I strip it off
and break things in half
to produce a rough edge
and cut the stitching open again
to watch the blood flow
down the shower drain.

Sometimes I make suggestive
remarks to a near stranger
and show a little too much cleavage
while gazing intently at their mouth.

Male or female, it doesn’t matter,
it’s a heart I’m looking for,
since mine is near drained.

I have this counselor
who loves me, I think.
Or else she is just really good
at letting her eyes well up with tears
when I tell my stories.

She says to not stop wanting connection,
to not stop looking to God
for love,
to safe people, for love too.

But God, I fear, allows things
I am still struggling to understand.

And safe people, well,
most days I think it is safer
to love the oil slick street after rain.

Jesus, she once said to me,
understands being bloodless
and mangled and left with holes.
And he wasn’t even repulsed by a girl like me.

I haven’t told anyone yet
but I’m beginning to think maybe I could like a guy like that.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Image © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

She grew up in Nixa,
barefoot, hay in her hair,
with a penchant for buttermilk
and married men.

Now I ain’t excusin’ nobody,
ain't judgin’neither,
just tellin’ it how it was
there in the sweltering heat of a late-July June.

She drove a charcoal-painted Mercury Comet
with a side window
busted out.  Never fixed it,
said it was because she liked the sound
of the thunder rain coming through,
like horse hooves,
at full gallop.

A tube of lipstick in a gaudy orange-pink shade,
rolled around on the dash,
its contents melting in the sizzling sun.
One time, as I sat shotgun and bumping along dirt roads,
the smell of the sweet, warm earth in our noses,
I asked her why she kept it there—
the rattle of it being a continual poke to the nerves.

She said it was on account of how it reminded her
of the dog who’d  bitten her and blotted out all her suns.
I always thought it was a joke I never understood,
but would
when I hit that magic year
when things adults said became clear.

She always drove barefoot,
tossing her boots in the backseat,
and pulling her flowered country dress up
while slipping down on the pedals,
a jar of sweet tea between her knees.

The winds of change were coming,
she’d say, and get that far-away look
like she’d seen her last blue Missouri moon.

The day she burned out,
I’d felt it. 
Like being stranded
in a float tube on winter’s river.

She’d gone to Springfield to catch a glimpse of her little boy
playing in someone else’s backyard.
A woman came out and was applying a Band-aid to his knee,
he’d called her ‘Mama’.
And that’s how one word can break your heart.

When we knew she’d met the fate of comets,
I ran to my room to bleed myself onto paper;
to write dreams of life lived violently, cursedly, and then
of green grass and white daisies,
and things that never end.

And to cry.

She’d left the lipstick tube for me,
on my scarred wooden white-painted dresser,
with her empty jar,
and 3 sets of  Newberry’s dime store earrings
in the shape of mini stars, moons, and daisies.
I drank the tea in 3 gulps,
slid the tube in my pocket,
stuck the star-shaped earrings through the holes in my lobes;

and then with all the voice I could muster,
I vowed to keep my sky,
that no dog would blot my suns,
and that he’d have to kill me
he could ever take my heart.

Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

Monday, March 4, 2013


Image by TheFoxAndTheRaven, via The Mag

what does it say about you
that i’d rather be here
huddling in rain

Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

A haiku written for The Mag 158 and for the Real Toads prompt 'Today We Scream’ brought to us by Susie Clevenger in honor of the Woman Scream International Poetry Festival to raise awareness through poetry about violence against women.  My poem refers to the domestic variety.

Image:  Woman Scream Internacional Poetry Festival