Share this article

print logo

Poem of the Week: By Catherine Wagner

By Catherine Wagner

In the building where I work

I choose one of two diagonal paths

To one of a pair of identical stairwells

And mount to the same hallway

Cause I don’t remember

State, state my home

Or I advance into a garden courtyard

Where no paths cross, no one meets there.

I was required to think of myself and for myself

By the State

Trained to think critically

By the State

To keep me from joining hands

With my neighbor.

I will now stop forever thinking for/of myself

And stop forever being free.

I mean this unironically.

I will have no thoughts

While blowing home a Government

made of poem.

The poem nation-projector

proposed a nation

off to the side.

I was assigned a body

and food, a room to work in

What did I make of it?

Have been sitting in this room hours

trying to make, and frustrated beyond


return to the old project?

I gotta get out of here.

CATHERINE WAGNER will join poet Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and the media/performance art duo Flatsitter at the next Silo City Reading Series event at 7 p.m. Friday at the Silo City complex on Ohio Street at Childs Street. Her collections of poems include “Nervous Device” (City Lights Books, 2012), “My New Job” (Fence Books, 2009), “Macular Hole” (Fence, 2004) and “Miss America” (Fence, 2001), as well as over a dozen chapbooks. With Rebecca Wolff, she co-edited “Not for Mothers Only,” an anthology published by Fence Books in 2007. She is an associate professor of English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. This poem is from her collection “Nervous Device.”