Six Poems

by Vivian Wagner

Southern Sierra

It’s a rust-colored apocalypse,
piñon needles browning
into nothingness, beetles
just doing what they know,
everything warming up to
the idea of a dead habitat.
My childhood place is
unrecognizable, trees dying,
mountains sagging under
remnants of memory,
mutilated edges of granite
speaking of lost second chances.
We build cages like this, sometimes,
out of the warping branches of trees
we love, trees we thought we knew,
trees that are no more.

Dropping Off

At the airport, a swift sparrow
flew across the asphalt, on its way 
somewhere else, escape and 
homecoming in every faint 
flap of its brown wings.
So we leave, and so we return,
and so flight can feel, 
almost, like standing still.

Snapshots of a Hurricane

A red eye, twirling
across a blue sea, yellow
wings flapping, stretched wide.

A view from above
of clouds darkening, pressing
screaming winds forward.

And in Ohio,
a faint breeze, whispering of
land and pines and waves.


Curiosity roves across the
red desert, looking for something.
Life? Meaning? Or maybe
just the ways that this planet,
with its sky and sun, its
dust and tire tracks,
looks suspiciously like home.

Emily Dickinson Goes to the Moon

I like the Quiet of the Place –
there, round the bend of the
Crater, see the grayness, stretching?
Not difficult to be Alone, here.
There is, I hear, a Man who lives
in this crust, looking toward
Earth, his cousin long lost.
I search for him, still,
hoping for a Companion, yet
dreading the dusty Society.
We live in the middle, always,
Astronauts, just landed,
wondering at our fate.

My Dog Narrates Our Morning

Get up already. Okay? Get up.
This way, that’s right. Over here.
Food. Please. Food. Please. Please.
Thanks. That’s good!
Now, walk? Let’s go! Walk!
Are you going back to sleep?
No! Walk! Now! Over here!
What are you doing? It’s time!
Yay! Walk! So many smells,
so much, so much, so much.
Pee. Pee. Pee. Pee. Let’s go!
So much, so much, so much.
This tree, I love this tree, always
plenty of messages here.
Okay, wait. Wait for it, wait for it,
wait. Wait. Wait. Done!
Let’s go! Over here? There?
Not the same way, not
exactly. Just a little bit
to this side of the alley,
or toward the woods. Let’s go
further this morning, further
than we’ve ever gone before.



Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she teaches English at Muskingum University. She’s the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music, and a poetry collection, The Village.

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