Punctuating Space

The comma’s a furled
fetus waiting to uncurl,
pausing for pre-breath,
drawing energy
from what’s been and
what’s to come.

China Lake

In that secret desert place,
beige buildings stood
among sagebrush and
rattlesnakes, dusk-purple
mountains watched from
the distance, pickup trucks
raised clouds of dust,
and trailers huddled close
to the valley floor,
everything waiting
for rapturous flames that,
like peace, never came.


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).