Two Poems by Vivian Wagner

The Railsplitter.jpg


None of us knows
what we’re doing.
We’re all making
it up as we go, trying
to find equilibrium
between stilettos and
whiskey, dying and love.
The ranch house we’re in
looks like a hotel or a
jail, depending on the light
and the time of day and
how hungry we are.
We’re begging the world
to remember our name,
but we barely remember it
ourselves, as we rush
toward the dissolution and
ecstasy that have been
our inheritance all along.

On Edge

An earthquake rocks my hometown,
knocking books from shelves and
confidence from minds, spreading
fire and anxiety and plumes of dust
from landslides to the valley floor.
The desert quiets, only to shake
again and again in small reminders,
and everyone’s waiting for the
Big One, or at least the next
one, the one that will bring the fire
and lava of end times, when scorpions
will start to speak and crows will
flurry into the sky, cawing too-
late warnings, and swimming
pools will swirl into sucking holes.
From a great distance, in the middle
of a slow-moving continent, I watch
and wait, knowing that though it
seems stable here, in fact the woods
are growing too quickly into a CO2-
laden atmosphere, and the mean
temperature’s becoming even more so.
We’re all writing our own revelations,
all concerned with the many minor
apocalypses happening around us,
and maybe the only thing to do is
listen to a robin chirping
about grain and worms,
pet the cat’s for-now soft fur,
and take deep breaths of whatever
air, at the moment, presents itself.

Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she’s an associate professor of English at Muskingum University. Her work has appeared in Slice Magazine, Muse/A Journal, Forage Poetry Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Gone Lawn, The Atlantic, Narratively, The Ilanot Review, Silk Road Review, Zone 3, Bending Genres, and other publications. She’s the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington); a full-length poetry collection, Raising (Clare Songbirds Publishing House); and three poetry chapbooks: The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press).

Image: “The Railsplitter” by ©Chuck Miller

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