Deborah Ager


Afternoons were spent on the stoop
eating mangos drenched with Tabasco sauce

and listening for the pop pop of guns.
Neighbors nodded at the Guatemalan
selling bootleg merengue tapes from a car

and knew to skirt Bus Turnaround Park
where October pumpkins were bought  

to see who slices the best grin.
Cars sucked uncollected trash in their wakes.
Curtains moved like red water in the windows.


The night brimmed with maybes.
Sharp leaves shuddered in September's
rickety wind. There was a heartless cat

that carried a katydid in her mouth oh so gently.
There were autumn nights that slipped away
in displays of red so fiery I wished the world

could roll away with the sun⎯just like that.
One time a truck grazed the sedan's door,
then⎯scent of rosemary sauteed in oil,

something my sister said that flattened wind,
curls of wood smoke, angles of January light
flooding rooms where sleep strayed, restless.

No one wants to hear stories of near misses.
Those who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge
and lived never wanted to try dying again;

they claimed to have killed the darkness
and to have risen into a second, better life.


Let it be Miami, Baltimore, New York.
Let fruits of the osage-orange tree crack.  
Do you smell their acrid perfume soiling air?

Let wind shovel the clouds aside
until they grey the west with rain.
Let it be the city of love, of heartache,

of longing. Let rain pelt me.
Let sidewalks buckle under you,
and I will ask what is it like to die.

Let me introduce this husband
I love. Let me show you this son
who is not to be. At night you're here;

the shadows move in the corners,
and I believe in them like a god.
This is the dark. This is my hand

extended to touch your arm,
passing through your ghostly body.

Deborah Ager
Deborah Ager's writing has appeared in The Bloomsbury Review, The Georgia Review, New England Review, The North American Review, Talisman Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and is the founding editor of 32 Poems Magazine (



Current Issue
Contributors' Notes

Deborah Ager

Karren Alenier

John Allman

Anne Becker

Mel Belin

Bruce Bennett

Doraine Bennett

Cliff Bernier

Doris Brody

Trina Carter

Grace Cavalieri

Norma Chapman

Maritza Rivera Cohen

Yoko Danno

Barbara DeCesare

Donna Denizé

Julie Enszer

Colin Flanigan

Roger Fogelman

Martin Galvin

Barbara Goldberg

JoAnne Growney

Sarita Hartz

James C. Hopkins

John Hoppenthaler

Laurie Hurvitz

Donald Illich

W. Luther Jett

J. Ladin

Diane Lockward

Jason Maffettone

Judith McCombs

Louis McKee

Larry Moffi

Miles David Moore

Yvette Neisser

Brent Pallas

Lee Patton

Hilary Tham

Rosemary Winslow

Kathi Wolfe

Ernie Wormwood










Email this poem

Printer friendly page






Last Updated: Sep 16th, 2007 - 08:34:32

Copyright © 2005 - 2006 Cook Communication.