Three Poems by Maryfrances Wagner

High School Lunch Hour

Girls, heavy-breasted in halters,
hide behind the stadium ticket booth
with tank-topped boyfriends,
cup the hotboxed glow
of fat humped joints,
watch for the principal.

They favor talk of burrito supremes
and ways to skip sixth hour
over the Type A macaroni and cheese lunch.

They point to a jerseyed arm
flying a yellow box kite
from a third-floor window.
They know the tight pull
of a good kite string
before it’s suddenly gone.


About Missouri Clay

Wanted to ride
the meanest Hell’s Angel bike
gripping the belt loops
of a man who could
drink turpentine for breakfast.

Wanted to steal
my brother’s Tropic of Cancer,
hitchhike up Highway One,
hang ten at Hunnington Beach.

Wanted to be
a Mick Jagger groupie,
hang out backstage,
hump so long even
Mick wouldn’t leave.

But I followed wooded trails,
wrapped my legs around Missouri clay,
kept busy
saving it.




Someone has left open
a mailbox fronted
with barbed wire
twisted into a nest.
Six vellum notes lay
stacked and stamped.
A spider’s web,
woven across the wire
like a torn door screen,
has captured a fly, a moth,
and a hornet still thrashing.
Who will reach in there?

I didn’t cry when I watched
my father sew together
where barbed wire
tore open my dog’s throat.

Atop the mailbox,
a starling eyes me
and tilts his head.
The air steals breath.
Gum trees toss spiky balls.
Last year, they caused
my dog and me to fall twice.
Worry, no more certain
than a torn sack hanging
from a bush, cannot save us.

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