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!