In Memory of Miriam Bobkoff

My friend, sometimes known as “the other Miriam” died yesterday in Kingston Residence in Santa Fe, attended by friends, caring aides, and Ambercare Hospice. She was a librarian (in public, community college, and tribal libraries), an ordained Zen priest in the Soto lineage, and also a lover of poetry and editor of the e-zine “Santa Fe Poetry Broadside.”
Here is an incredible poem she wrote based on what she called her “communal past,” that speaks not just to an important part of her personal history but to that of the city of San Francisco’s. It is about the famous drag queen, activist, and local personality Hibiscus.
If you knew Miriam Bobkoff and this is your first notice of her death, the team that cared for her will also be sending out a group email of a more personal nature. Also, feel free to write me at msagan1035@aol.com.

Unexpected Elegy

When I wrote him off he was famous
in his fashion,
a caricature of all the people who had imitated him,
whole audiences of them,
the screwy drugged-out Angel of Light making only the
occasional flight
in the theater he created.

Afterwards he died of ‘gay pneumonia’
before so to speak there was such a thing as AIDS,
as if he had invented his death, too, and all the others have
imitated him.

“I heard that Hibiscus was dragged screaming in chains
down the middle of Polk Street,”
said Jilala or Ralif or someone else who would have heard it
at the baths,
and we all disapproved.
I could see it plainly, the nineteen flowing layers of garments,
the wreath of real flowers in waist-long hair and the
glitter in his beard, writhing in oil and broken glass
under the feet of buses and cars and the aunties of Polk Street–

right then I forgot him for ten years,

whom only now I remember:

he showered us with rose petals, my first lover and I,
coming through the velvet curtain between his room
and mine, scattering handsful over our bodies
as we lay there making love

he called me Garance sometimes, and once when the commune was
in a crisis too ordinaire for his delicate self
he handed me a note and fled the house,
I have the paper still:
‘Garance — Never mind. The moment is past.’ Baptiste

he came from New York longer ago than that
(I was a model, he said, my specialty was looking sullen)
the beautiful boy who wanted to sleep with me
when I was still
living alone in a carriage house and had never slept with anyone,
and he was still George Harris the Third.

1/2/89

3 Questions for Glenna Luschei

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

1. My mother said I used iambic pentameter before I could talk in words and my children remember that
I spoke to them in rhyme when they were little so I guess I use it as basic and fundamental.

2. I think I bottle up words in my body. The name of an early book was “Back into my Body.” so I definitely feel I use my body as a storage shed. I feel I am at my physical peak when I am writing or on the tail of a poem. Having a book published is a let down which makes me feel restless. I need to get going again.

I get good images when I’m walking , even better, running. Best yet, swimming.

3. Sometimes I wonder why I have given my life to something so obscure but I like the hermetic life, too.

Glenna Luschei was born in Iowa, educated in Nebraska, and has been a poet all her life. She was a
corn detasseler in Iowa who graduated to raising avocados in California. She has lived in South America and in the American Southwest. With her PhD in Hispanic Languages from the University of California at Santa Barbara she has served as medical translator for migrant workers. In the year 2000 she was inducted as poet laureate of San Luis Obispo, California, City and County.

Since I’m getting on a plane, here’s a short one.

Flight Haiku

So much joy in life
I will be forced to declare
this extra baggage.

Poetry in Cookies

Most cookies are cute–only a few are works of art– and Naja Druva’s are:

FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender(1)

FullSizeRender(2)

Thanks to Stella Reed for drawing my attention to these. To see more, click here.

Pop Up Poetry

We got some nice post event publicity from Santa Fean Now.

page_30-1

I think contributing writer Bibi Deitz knows something I do not! Read her essay on patience, below.

On Patience

My friend told me that to be patient in Spanish is to study the science of peace: Paciencia comes from the Latin pax and Spanish ciencia, peace and science. I did some research and found that this etymology lesson is not quite right—looks like paciencia originally derives from the Latin pati, to suffer or undergo, which morphed over time to the Latin patientia, meaning endurance, tolerance, forbearance—but I like my friend’s version. If science is the intellectual activity of studying the ways of the natural world through observation and experiment and peace is simply freedom from disturbance (thanks, Oxford American!), then to have patience is to mindfully observe the ways of the world through observation and experiment—peacefully. That sounds about right.

I have been challenging myself to have patience with everything lately. In the past eight months since I moved back to New York, I have been constantly tempted to rush things: I’m back! I’m ready for the job, relationship, apartment of which I’ve always dreamed! But I’m constantly receiving reminders to have patience.

Peace is hard to come by when you’re waiting for something. If a child knows there’s something to look forward to later, she’ll anxiously look forward to it all day—the “are we there yet?” syndrome. It’s the same way with adults who have a treat on the horizon. If I know it’s coming, I’d much prefer for it to come now.

This isn’t always the case. I like to savor a good book, tick away the days until a B.B. King concert, and don’t get me started on the delights of foreplay. There’s a time and a place for everything, and this includes patience.

But, for the most part, if I don’t know it’s coming—if I just trust that things come, as life unfolds, because that’s the way life works, and keep showing up and paying attention but not itching about how it’ll all look in the end—then I can just relax, free from antsiness or distress.

Spiritual teachers seem to be really amped up about patience. Yogi Bhajan has a great little ditty on patience in which he booms out, “Patience pays!” in his deep voice. I hear him in my head sometimes when I start to get restive. And my friend and I watched a metaphysical-y video recently from Ra Uru Hu, who basically said, Put a sock in it. You think waiting sucks? How about you get used to it and embrace it for a change.

They’re right, obviously. Take longing and desire—the way things are at the very beginning of a romantic entanglement, that precarious place where both people have expressed interest, a sizable handful of kisses have been exchanged, but the trajectory remains unclear. These fluttery moments could be for the memory mine, to be conjured up from time to time in the future as hazy reminiscence. Or such a thing could be worth waiting for.

If it’s Option A, the former option, then in some ways, wouldn’t we all rather it be dragged out a bit? We love to pine, though we think we hate it. Truth be told, I live for it. I love the pursuit, the dance, the uncertainty and heartache and tumult. If something is given to me on a platter, I’ll take a nibble and leave the rest for the mice. If, on the other hand, something is shoved at me piecemeal in jagged little unpredictable bites, I’ll lie down on the floor with my mouth open, eyes closed, and hope the next bite is something with truffle oil and not, say, rat jerky. But I’ll take that chance, because I so adore the thrill of the chase.

If it’s Option B, all the better. If a romance is going somewhere, what’s the rush?

Only time will tell. Patience is sometimes bolstered by distraction. Take the other day: I was thinking of firing off a text message about something that felt urgent, but instead I got sidetracked by dinner with my friend, which led to a walk around my neighborhood, which led to the discovery of a new kind of macaroon and sitting on a bench in the twilight, sharing a snack and watching the moonrise. That’s the thing with patience, and with life: you never know when you might be surprised with the perfect opportunity to practice the science of peace, there in the twilight, perched on a bench with your friend from college in the last of the lambency of the day.

¡Paciencia y barajar! Keep trying—don’t give up!

You can hear Yogi Bhajan’s patience affirmation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjNBzaNxCwE

And watch Ra Uru Hu’s patience video here: http://www.jovianarchive.com/Media_Library/Videos/14/RaZen_-_Ra_Uru_Hu (and then click “Waiting”)

Sometimes a simple solution

is an elegant way to hang things:

IMG_1086

IMG_1087

IMG_1088

SFCC media arts

Pop Up Poetry in the Railyard

Yesterday–it was a lot of fun! Maybe a reading on the train next?

get-attachment
Photo by Michael G. Smith

Organizers Elizabeth Jacobson and Miriam Sagan–it warmed up later!

IMG_1089

Elizabeth and husband David aren’t visible but are putting up the banner! A big thank you to Michael for getting it made.

It is a little scary to expose poetry to the elements–in this case wind, trains, and great smelling but noisy chile roaster. But lots and lots of folks popped in to listen even for just a few minutes. And a typically great Santa Fe poetry audience was there throughout.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 681 other followers