Lynn Wagner


Always a fan of Pablo Neruda’s great odes, I wrote the first poem while practicing the Anglo-Saxon line. “Zoo haiku” is a playful experiment – contrary to what you see here, I really don’t believe in following syllables as we bring haiku into English.





O you marvelous    maker of music
whose succulent Spanish    celebrated all
the ten thousand    thousand things
of our timeworn world    when you wrote
open-hearted    odes: knowing
songs on such small    and strange objects
as piscine scissors,    soft woolly socks,
y perro y gato,    plato y pan.
             Neruda, you never    knew a thing
you didn’t like.    Dutiful diviner of
unsettled sorrow    shaped as a guitar.
Childlike, you    charmed us, cataloging
joy in this or that    thingamajig; ever
weighing our wants    finding them wanting.
O wooer of wonder    what should we do?
Teach us,    the terrible materialists
to answer life’s    appetites with awe.
For nothing is simply    nominal. No,
a cache of love    is kept in common things.

Previously published in Chautauqua Literary Review, Spring 2006, 7.


Zoo Haiku

licks his lips and yawns
solitary tiger eyes
small boy / red balloon

the pink flamingo
dreams. Peoples his trim lawn with
pairs of plastic men

swimming in circles
the polar bear swears she’s home
in endless oceans

backstage the penguins
wish they could slip off their ties
skip the matinee

almost every
Sunday the tarantulas
carefully make love




Lynn Wagner has poems in Shenandoah, Subtropics, Rhino 2006 and 5AM. In 2004 she won the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award in poetry and has been awarded fellowships to the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts by the Vira I. Heinz Foundation. She received an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets prize in 2002. Lynn curates the Pittsburgh Poetry Calendar on and maintains a web presence at