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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

When You're Young You Don't Care About Appearances

dandelions are weeds they say
but to me they
are summer
and a fluffy snowflake
mixed-breed mutt who made a beeline for me
when i lay out on the kentucky bluegrass
of home
needing love

Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Wagner

I'm pledging to be a little less grown up today--and to link up with those amazing poets at the dVerse Poets Pub for OpenLinkNight #90!