Thursday, September 11, 2014


Photo © 2014 Jennifer Wagner

artist point
how a mistake can still be
so beautiful

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

Above is a photo I took this summer at Artist Point in Yellowstone National Park.  The location got its name because it was widely believed that Thomas Moran created a sketch there which he used to create his famous 1872 painting, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  In 1890 photographer F. Jay Hanes published a park guidebook with the name and the title stuck.  The location Moran actually used is now called Moran Point. 

I was trying to convey the essence of that history in the poem, as well as another message which I think has a connection to artistry of any type: poetry, photography, painting, motheringsmilesetc. that, even if it may not be perfect, it can still be pretty beautiful.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Light, Interrupted

In one season
life can

its own color,

every inch of ground

in death
brewed from

an age-old

leave the path covered
with skyjacked shadows

of nearly
three thousand

who died from the spread
of the disease—

but as shadows

light interrupted,
they are not then, nor now,

light forgotten.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

Saturday, September 6, 2014

magnitude of creation (1)

Photo © 2014 Jennifer Wagner

the chickadees
and nuthatches

clap their wings
against their sides

zip, dip
from the feeder

and dip,
snip again

fly       a          w         a          y

and a moment later
back again
all day long

by inch 
we get closer, to the window

watch them
watch us
watch them

face to beak

and learn
in some small way

how each
small thing

is never

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

This summer I visited the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.  On display were some of Tony Fitzpatrick’s drawings The Secret Birds.  He says his grandmother used to say, “For the price of a piece of bread you can hear God sing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

On Dead Dragonfly and Giant Mushroom Trail

It’s on our lips,
we’re whispering the change of time
while the ear tips of trees
are burning orange.

Seven and I
pick and eat blackberries,
just a few, though—
as the bulk have not yet turned
from green,
to red,
to purplish-black.

Not far away
charcoal is smoldering
and the scent of
grilling hot dogs
keeps summer alive—

we pause,
as much to watch
a rabbit watching us
and then bounce away,

as to hold on
to the end
and the beginning.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

“Seven” refers to my seven-year-old.  There is a trail near our house we often walk on where he found a beautiful dead dragonfly and where a giant mushroom grows sideways out of the trunk of a fallen tree, therefore, the title.  Happy changing of seasons!

For OLN at dVerse

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cleaning House

In my thrift store psyche
the ghost of you sits
in a ring of dust
on a table not quite antique.

I keep check on it
every now and then,
making sure you haven’t reappeared

midst blue and gold gilded vases,
LP’s with faded jackets,
and hand-me-downs.

New stuff gets added
daily, weekly, monthly. . .

and some things find other homes, too—
like you.

One day I’ll dust,
after the clutter clears,
and then
even your memory
will be gone too.

Until I find another thing
that reminds me of you.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

Sunday, August 17, 2014

(Out of) Focus

Broken, I was
in a thousand fifteen places.

Broken, then
in two hundred twenty-eight.

Broken, now am I
in ten plus seventeen.

And more—but why do I only see
the broken parts of me?


© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Never Stop/Taking Me Home

On the train from Chicago
we are all colors, flavors—
caramel, dark, light.

A young couple, clad
all in red and white, waits near us;
soccer fans
heading back from
Liverpool FC v. Olympiacos.

I had noticed them earlier
on the way in—
laughing at photos on his phone,
their tan legs, intertwined.

And across from us now
an even younger couple,
dark chocolate skin, laughing, electric—
their delight in each other
making me feel like grinning silly,
floating too.

Young love
makes a strong point:  never stop flirting
with the one you want to keep.

She grabs his hand, massages,
notices a scar.
I catch a snippet of what
he says, there’s a story behind that.
Let me tell you

And I drift away
to the conductor nearing our seats,
hear you say, I lost our other ticket
blew onto the tracks

Don’t worry about it, he says—
waving your money away
with his face-consuming grin.

And we are on
to East Chicago,
where the roots of you grew—
leaning my head
on your shoulder
that for 16 years
I’ve trusted
to take me home.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

photo © 2014 Ian Wagner

Monday, August 4, 2014

recipes for hemlock

recipes for hemlock

Excited to have a poem of mine in the first anthology by Boston Poetry Magazine.  Editor Mike Jewett did an excellent job putting this together.  Click image to get your copy and check out some poetry from the dVerse community as well as the talented voices of some others included in this anthology.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Our waitress
takes us down
to tour the cellar

added after
they bought the place.

They set it up
for private parties now
at Valentine’s Day.
President Bush (she doesn’t clarify which)
celebrated his birthday here once—she says

—and in
the close space
I contemplate
the smallness
of powerful men.

we walk—
up, up
the staircase
to patrons
clinking glasses
and slicing
into crab encrusted steak.

We imagine
the horses
out back, back in the day,
as lovers
now sit
in the courtyard
sipping cabernet.

we roam
the upper level in quiet,
look out onto the street,
the mist
of history
in the air.

Your voice
a half-whisper of awe,

it must
have been so cool
working out
of a station like this.

We descend
to the door,
to the sidewalk

and rain
greets us, pattering about
like a welcome home.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

Enjoyed our trip to the Chicago area, where my husband was born, to visit family and to celebrate our anniversary and birthdays.

Photo © 2014 Jennifer Wagner
(click link if you want to know more about this historic building)
Photo © 2014 Jennifer Wagner


Friday, August 1, 2014

Slice (Cinquain)

photo © 2014 Jennifer Wagner

deep dish
vine ripened plum tomatoes
fresh mozzarella and flaky, buttery crust
fork, knifeMalnati’s is a Chicago-style smile in
a slice

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner