Friday 5 May 2023

2 Poems by Maryfrances Wagner


You are now like the creek

funneling behind the path I walk.

I remember days I dumped

your cans, scrubbed rings

from tables, the drift of flat beer

trailing me to the kitchen

like your breath before your

glazed eyes settled into red holes

in dim light, your silhouette

hunched like the dying elm

outside, reaching out beneath

the moon. As you stared off,

with one hand you tapped

your fingertips, and with the other

you dragged your sock across

your ankle over and over.


Becoming One of the Invisible

At first, I spoke up. Hey, I’m standing

right here. See me waving? Then I realized


this was like hiding. We can sail down aisles,

slip between cars, and no one stops us.

We can stare like our mothers said not to do,

shake our booty, float off like maple seeds.

We’re the empty seat in the audience,

alone in the crowd watching sky. We raise

unanswered arms clunky with bracelets. The last

donut or slice of pizza never gets passed to us.

With my date last Saturday, I watched

how his fingers floated in the air when he talked,

in between steak bites, wine sips, the type

who could scuba through schools of parrotfish

instead of trying to catch anything, the kind

not needing anyone there since underwater,

the sea is mostly silent. As I started to tell him

how I floated unseen across parking lots, through

flashing minnows and dodged barracudas

sulking by, I saw his eyes sink into dilated marbles.

Behind his nod, the fixed smirk. That’s okay.

I’m thinking of my next disappearance. I won’t need

darkness or a mask. I won’t have to make excuses.

Even a rock in a shoe serves its purpose.


Maryfrances Wagner’s newest books are The Silence of Red Glass, The Immigrants’ New Camera, and Solving for X.  Her newly reissued book Red Silk won the Thorpe Menn Book Award. She co-edits I-70 Review, serves on The Writers Place board, was 2020 Missouri Individual Artist of the Year, and is Missouri Poet Laureate 2021-2023. Poems have appeared in New Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, American Journal of Poetry, Poetry East, Green Mountain Literary Review, Voices in Italian Americana, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, et. al. For more information, check her website:

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