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.










it was not a very long journey

it was a very long journey



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







legs crossed


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…



get up



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



this was very large

you could put it in your pocket

it could put you in its pocket








Valley of Fires



something was missing

at the edge of the lava field,

enough shadow

to photograph,

or something

simply vanished,


(like your lost



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.






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.







water tank

green bronze


dried grass



stone lichen

dharma wheel


  1. francis

picnic table

wild gourd



cabbage moth

touching the earth


touching the earth







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