wendy vardaman photoWendy Vardaman, Madison, WI, has a Ph.D. in English from University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Engineering from Cornell University. Her poems, reviews, and interviews have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals, including Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes, Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory, Letters to the World, Poet Lore, qarrtsiluni, Nerve Cowboy, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Women’s Review of Books, Rain Taxi Review, Rattle, and Portland Review. Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and was runner-up in 2004 for the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Lorine Niedecker Award. A former university English teacher, she works for the children’s theater company, The Young Shakespeare Players. Beginning in 2009 she will co-edit with Sarah Busse Wisconsin’s only all-poetry journal, Free Verse. Her first collection of poetry, Obstructed View (Fireweed Press), is forthcoming in 2009.

Poetry on qarrtsiluni: en.wordpress.com/tag/wendy-vardaman/
Interview with Iranian poet, Farrideh Hassanzadeh-Mostafavi: eclectica.org/v13n1/vardaman.html
Review of Modern Life, by Matthea Harvey: raintaxi.com/online/2008summer/harvey.shtml

Mother Contemplates the Apocalypse

Some days are like that—everything
means something:
two parallel pits in fresh snow, filled with black
ice and surrounded by sediment, by rock
in eruption; a perpendicularly driven bread
truck gliding down the road’s middle
while traffic in each direction scatters; four dark contrabasses scuttling
up slick stairs
without a missed beat; little knots
of black-shelled figures
at every corner waiting with the same expectant faces,
each gaze pinned
on the horizon, with a regularly-timed
pulse of eye
to wrist to road in the measure of one hardly-noticeable sigh;
the bus that never arrives; the runaway dog;
the lengthening knives hanging from every roof’s edge.

St. Catherine of Siena’s Day

Fifty daffodils, one hundred
last fall produce
only a handful of half-way resurrections:
limp wings on weak
necks emerging from a cracked
tomb—the wrong
soil and a long
winter of low
temperatures without insulating snow.

Content yourself with this:
a few lines, less
than you conceived
by the time they arrived—
scribbled on the back of something else; almost forgotten
between their thought and the interruption
of children, practice,
questions of dinner and the day, cookies
for tomorrow, the last
burned inedible—
and their retrieval;

or with dandelions—too many
to count—bright as any
daffodil but longer lasting, cheerful,
less temperamental,
and a neighbor’s sign: Free
Daylilies, already
tall, fresh dug, ready to return
to bad soil like saints to heaven.


I try to ignore the window
washer leaning against me; he strokes the sheet
that separates us, blocks my light,
my view of construction across the way,
but ignores me, too,
when our gazes accidentally intersect,
a moment before we recalibrate
our focal depths. Then he becomes the window

through which I glance, groping for the next
word, hand hovering above this blank, while I become
the glass that reflects his form,
a form he doesn’t even have to watch
in order to sustain
its perfect rhythm’s line.