“In Defense of Cat Ladies”


At a certain point you can

no longer keep up with the

decades: you didn’t see Shrek,

have only a tenuous grasp

on Pokémon, stopped

listening past Smashing
Pumpkins, still think of

Nirvana as new.

There’s only so much

a body can take, only so

much hype and excitement,

before everything

seems not pointless

but far too pointed.

You prefer the soft, the

slow: a cat’s timeless fur,

a robin’s eye, the lag of

a still-ticking clock.


“Air Supply”


Laurie and I loved

listening to Air Supply

on KIIS-FM’s top-40 show

on Saturdays, singing

“All out of Love”

and swinging our

hair with the kind

of wild abandon you

can only summon

at thirteen when you

see the sky for what

you hope it is:

infinite, a thing

that never will,

never can, run out.


“Time Traveler”


She leapt forward through a portal,

with its drama of stars and darkness,

landing in a room with a ginger cat,

a cup of coffee, and a slow morning, kids

no longer kids, off in their own days.

Then she went back to a distant summer

morning, making pancakes, managing

the constant din and flux of children

waking up, a place where the cat had not

yet found her: another now, all at once.


“Operation Fortitude”


Every day’s a small battle,

a minor victory, a launching

of boats onto distant sand.

The women in my chair

yoga class are foot soldiers,

breathing oxygen through

tubes, moving their arms,

twisting their spines, and

finally going home, where

the real fight begins, to

lift groceries and play

with grandkids and stay

alive—yes, sometimes that’s

the best you can hope for,

the best you can do.

“Feline Monitoring System”


He curls on my bed,

part rabbit, part fox,

fur soft and red,

ears twitching,

high-tech antennae

on a far horizon.

He’s asleep, as he

almost always is, but

remains aware of air.



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).

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