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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

5 poems by Miriam Sagan

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Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon). which just won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement this year. Her blog Miriam’s Well (http://miriamswell.wordpress.com) has a thousand daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in two national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and A Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.

 

T or C Ghazal

 

We went out seeking, wanting to look

For the river’s bend, in Truth or Consequences

 

Submerging, and looking to shift the self

But how, and in what direction, with what consequences?

 

Leap like a fish into air, koan into dream

Even emptiness is pregnant with its opposite

 

This moment wants nothing for itself, is here

For you and me, for everybody else, in consequence

 

The wine glass may be plastic and covered in spots

Yet God appears in this line like your face in the mirror

 

Simple cause and effect is called karma

Hot Springs, New Mexico becomes Truth or Consequences

 

You are named for a saint, cousin,

And for the god of the sea, consequently

 

I’m jealous of the beauty of your names

Yet I’ll answer to my own and tell the truth.

 

 

***

 

 

 

Zendo

 

 

it was not a very long journey

it was a very long journey

 

ephemeral

kalpas (eons of time)

 

peeled like

tissue paper

of past-present-future

 

black zafus

like rows of mushrooms

 

it was like leaving home

it was like coming home

 

it was like a Buddha drum

it was like a parking lot

 

it was like a story of what had happened

it was what had happened

 

and might be

happening

again

walk

bow

sit

 

legs crossed

mind

on its rampage

 

it was like seeing your ghost

it was like not seeing your ghost

 

it was like what I’d expected

and it was like…

 

bow

get up

walk

 

big bell bowl

smaller bell bowl

invisible bell bowl

 

strike and

 

it was like a sound that filled the universe

and it was like complete silence

 

it was like taking a picture

it was like being in the picture

it was like not having seen the picture at all

 

yellow orchid

incense ash

 

this was no kind of

haiku

 

this was very large

you could put it in your pocket

it could put you in its pocket

 

pebble

Buddha.

 

***

 

 

Valley of Fires

 

 

something was missing

at the edge of the lava field,

enough shadow

to photograph,

or something

simply vanished,

intimate,

(like your lost

earring).

 

gnats in my left ear

buzzed as if

trying to alert me

to the sound

of form colliding with emptiness

(and Robert Oppenheimer

in a fedora

turned away from me

as if embarrassed).

 

black door

in the earth,

cracks deep in pahoehoe lava,

cooled to abstraction

the curve and bulk

of an expanding universe.

 

how you die

in some geography

you’ve lived in–

a bridge you crossed

from one place

to another

always hoping

to catch the next ferry.

 

immigrant, pilgrim, or refugee

butterfly over black lava

or dark crow flies

from Trinity flat

to Hiroshima–

and we parked and slept

in the little van

dreaming of

this, and that.

 

***

 

Sutra

 

I see the name of the boy who jumped

into Taos gorge

and did not float

on air

but fell

 

written in black on a slip

of white paper

folded on the altar

 

and a bowl of ash

to contain

incense stick burning

to ash

 

and also I saw

what I thought

about all this.

 

***

 

Mudra

 

windmill

water tank

green bronze

bodhisatva

dried grass

flagstone

ants

stone lichen

dharma wheel

swingset

  1. francis

picnic table

wild gourd

notebook

windless

cabbage moth

touching the earth

gesture

touching the earth

 

***

 

 

 

 

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