Catherine Wagner




In the building where I work

I choose one of two diagonal paths


To one of a pair of identical stairwells

And mount to the same hallway


Cause I don’t remember

State, state my home


Or I advance into a garden courtyard

Where no paths cross, no one meets there.


I was required to think of myself and for myself

By the State


Trained to think critically

By the State


To keep me from joining hands

with my neighbor.


I hell/held hands with none of you

And none of us were me.


I will now stop forever thinking for/of myself

And stop forever being free.


I mean this unironically.

I will have no thoughts


While blowing home a Government

made of poem.


The poem nation-projector

proposed a nation


off to the side.

I was assigned a body


and food, a room to work in

What did I make of it?


Have been sitting in this room hours

trying to make, and frustrated beyond



return to the old project?


I gotta get out of here.

Fly Dome



If love is currency,

is now, and current,


there’s nothing not conducts it.

I press bad coin into your hand,


a vinegary smell.

In conduct reasonable


in heart unsure

loyal in secret


nervous, shy-tucked—

Aargh deerfly round my hat


fuzzdives—Biz off somewheres

I have no interest in your wares


Fly chased me from reverie

Why do you want to crash me


ring me spiral woo

Swing hat to bash you


You inaugurated doggerel

Stupid fly


I was talking of love like Emily Dickinson

or Bronte or Elizabeths several


or Vincent. Tough you fly.

You follow slow me, speed me.

The Sun-Went-Down Calamity



means go in.


Coyotes! on far ridge.

Mosquitoes. Run.


If you add up scene,

divide in half

to get the mean

you split apart the sun


and see inside tree.

Writing so much about sun

it will get tired of me.

See you round.


I feel blind —

bats, dark bullfrogs, crickets


outline valley.




CATHERINE WAGNER’s new book is Nervous Device (City Lights, 2012). She lives in Oxford, Ohio.