top of page

A Mini-Chapbook by Vivian Wagner



Lost Causes


The glacier scissors through the valley,

but it’s a Baked Alaska, a flambé waiting its turn

to melt, a half-frozen Bananas Foster

preparing to go up in rummy flames and

fold into the crepe of blue-green mountains.


Birches hammer their roots home,

standing their ground, Bonnie and Clyde

in their last shoot-out, outgunned.


And here, over everything, is the sun,

its light a letter asking to be

forgiven for all it can’t help but do.





My dog stepped in the grass and

yelped, howled, his eyes terrored,

his fur pointing up, his ears wild

with misdirection, his paw limp.

Inside, I tried to find the cause,

tried to give whatever weak

comfort I could, not knowing

what had come between him

and everything calm and good.

As his foot swelled, I saw the

purple point where the bee’s

stinger had stuck, in that soft

space between pad and coat.

Now, a day later, healing, he

sleeps, curled into a tight ball,

a planet warding off meteorites,

intent and still, shrouded

from shrillness, longing for

nothing to happen.

Climate, Changed


The horizon bruises

after a strangely hot day,

pretending it’s an orchid,

and the sky meant for that

to happen, that color.

This is the heat of apologies

unspoken, of carbon building,

of skin aging under the eye.

This is the color of a king’s robe

as he sweeps grandly through

a hall he didn’t pay for.

This is the color of possibility

that cracks through a

poured painting, a

beautiful accident.

On Drawing a Wine Glass

Filled with Water


Graphite on a page gives

an illusion of clear,

the feeling a glass lives

in its own space, dear

enough, close enough

to touch. It fades,

though, disappears, a rough

approximation, made

of erasures and lines,

shading and sparks,

a magician’s fine

attempt, a lark.

This, the only hope of art.

This, a start.



"On Drawing a Wine Glass/Filled with Water"

Originally published in Making, Origami Poems Project



Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she teaches English at Muskingum University. She's the author of Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), The Village (Kelsay Books), and Making (Origami Poems Project). Visit her website at

bottom of page