Altar in a Barn by Margaret H. Wagner


dedicated to a cowgirl…

Torn ticket to a rodeo, stained
upside-down wooden raspberry basket,
teal, brocaded pincushion the size of
a child’s hand, dried bee balm bouquet.

Well-worn lasso, shredded and dusty,
rusted Campbell’s soup can
brimming with marbles, baby bootie
scuffed, eyelets misplaced.

A black silk stocking, lace on its ankle,
draped over rosewood branches
crossed to the four winds, silver
butterfly charm with busted clasp.

Hotel key yoked to plastic diamond shield,
letters faded, metal watering can
with no handle, yellow coneflower
sprouted from a crack in the soil.

The marks “n o w” in the dirt,
gray T-shirt with gold smiley face
hung over a hook, empty bottle
Jack Daniels, label scratched off.


Margaret Wagner is a writer, dancer, and artist who has written articles for World Screen and won three Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing. She has studied with Ellen Bass, Marie Howe, Jericho Brown, and Julia Cameron, in addition to conscious dance pioneers Gabrielle Roth and Anna Halprin. Margaret is the founder of WRITE IN THE BEAT™, workshops that pair mindful movement with written poetry and visual art. She graduated with a BA in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College and attended the public sessions of Dominican University of California’s MFA creative writing courses and the 2019 AWP Conference (Portland, OR). She has served as visiting faculty at the Omega Institute, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and Mount Holyoke College, and is a certified Open Floor and 5Rhythms® dance teacher. Her work has been published in Cacti Fur, Evening Street Review, Front Porch Review, Ghost City Review, I-70 Review, Perceptions Magazine, pioneertown, Raw Journal of the Arts, and Steam Ticket. Visit Margaret at: