All The Poems Fit To Print–new e-zines and work

There are so many wonderful e-zines out there right now. It is hard to keep track, but each new gem is a find. Plus, I think as writers we really enjoy the immediacy of seeing our work posted—often quickly and in fresh visually interesting formats. For readers, a snack sized dose of poetry is a click away…with whole magazines to peruse at leisure. Today I’m re-printing two newly published poems with links to more work. The first is by me at Fourth and Sycamore (what a cool name!): https://fourthandsycamore.com/2016/08/19/to-embark-iceland-poems-by-miriam-sagan/
They did a lovely job. Take a look for more poetry and more photos of Iceland, actually shot from the air by Isabel Winson-Sagan.

A Rainy Thursday in Laugervatn

wind comes off the water
trees–generic because I am a foreigner–bend in it

and the umbrella I transported for thousands of miles
turns insideout

shows its ribs
like a beached decaying pilot whake

small black ducks at the edge of the lake
pea plant gone saturated blue in the northern light

and although I praise and soothe the sheep
they turn fat furry tail and run

off on their little legs
like time, like wavelets on a shore

and reading a saga
in the hotel eadda

and waiting for lunch
I feel as if I were (although I’m not)

sitting in a ferry terminal
about to embark

bad news from far-away
god news up close (raindrop, birch)

and the artist tells me
if I understand correctly

that her great grandmother
is the one who carved this gigantic statue

of the tall woman
with enormous outspread wings

Miriam Sagan

iceland-1

I love the two poems published at Soul-Lit by Michael G. Smith. He is a frequent blog contributor, and the poem copied here has that “feels true” chime to it. Let me say, though, the other poem of his up on the zine is complex and awakens the inner philosopher, so do check it out at http://www.soul-lit.com/poems/V13/Smith/index.html

Silence, a Verb
 
In the work of silence
there is nothing to be
gained or possessed.
Silence, a verb, what
do I hope
to achieve
winging thoughts
across paper,
the path walking, too
beside the mountain.

Michael G. Smith

And some great poems by contributing writer Devon Miller-Duggan at https://broadzine.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/doors20163.pdfEnjoy!

Monday Feature by Michaela Kahn: Can Poetry Save Lives?

Can Poetry Save Lives?

Maybe a poem isn’t going to knit a broken bone, or sew up a wound … but I wonder – can poetry save lives? In those dark hours full of complicated questions or those lonely moods that can swallow us like a fog, in a time of serious decision … can a poem find its way to us, let a color or complexity in?

In some of the darkest times of my own life, poetry has been a life raft. And in the times even worse than that, my own demon has actually, actively kept me away from poetry – a sort of self-starvation in the midst of my depression or grief. That’s why I believe in it. Because when I could finally get myself to the place where I could sit down and read a poem … perspective and equilibrium weren’t too far behind. It wasn’t about the poem solving anything … it was about finding a way to return to the world.

Anyway, survival requires more than just a beating heart … the heart needs something to beat for.

Here is a poem that works this kind of magic for me.

“O Taste and See”

by Denise Levertov

The world is
not with us enough.
O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

Into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince
living in the orchard and being

hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Letter To My Younger Self by Tracy Moore

Dear Past Self,

I’d like to talk to you about what love is, and what it isn’t. As you go through the next few decades of life, many things are going to be said and done which will cause a lot of confusion for you about what it means to receive and give love. So many times, wounded parents fill their children with feelings of fear and rejection due to their inability and/or unwillingness to cope with their own problems. Their words sometimes leave behind even bigger bruises than their hands do.
The most important thing for you to remember is that your presence in this world is not something which you should ever feel guilt, shame, or regret for. As you get older, you will have a lot of things to heal from, and it may take a long time for you to realize that no one deserves to benefit from the fact that they have created fear or feelings of inadequacy in you. No, not even your parents. You will have grown so accustomed to walking on eggshells and feeling as though you can’t do anything right, that it may be difficult for you to create healthy relationships for a very long time.
Do not feel guilty for this either. Be gentle with yourself as you unlearn just about everything you’ve been taught about what it means to love and be loved. Give yourself the gentleness which you have deserved from the day that you entered this life. There are many stages to go through as you move through the upcoming healing process. You will feel anger, resentment, shame, guilt, fear, and uncertainty as you make your way toward wholeness. All of these feelings are a normal part of your experiences. Remember that you have been taught to question your every feeling and action. You no longer need to do this to survive.
It is normal too, to desire love and acceptance so much that you can be drawn into relationships of all kinds which are not healthy for you. This is because you have nothing to go by when it comes to recognizing healthy exchanges and fair treatment. No matter how hard this might seem, the first relationship which you will need to build in order to form a good foundation for all of the rest to come is the one with yourself. As time goes by, you will eventually reach this healthy stage in your life. Take the time to enjoy it. Savor the freedom which comes from letting go. Remember all of the obstacles you’ve made your way through over the years, and keep your eyes open for people who are in the position where you used to be as you were beginning to heal. A few kind words or a little reassurance from you can give them a jump start on their path.
Do not, however, take their burdens upon yourself to the degree that you are not living your life or dealing with your own stuff. This too, is a common thing which happens to people who have been through some of the things that you have. While it is good to care, you have to be aware of how much of what you do might be a distraction from dealing with your own issues. There is a lot of trial and error coming up, but you will realize that there is a difference between caring and avoidance, or even co-dependency. We do not have the ability to “fix” anyone other than ourselves. When the time comes that you find yourself thinking that you need to sacrifice parts of your very being in order to love someone enough-know that this is not true. Have faith in yourself. I do.

Love,
Your future self

***

Tracy Moore
https://pullupatoadstool.com/

Hunting La Llorona by Andrew Lovato

My colleague Andy Lovato has published several books and contributed to more. Here he is writing on the perennial favorite supernatural La Llorona. If I ask a class who has seen her when they were children, a few hands always go up.
This is from his collection “Elvis Romero and the Cosmic White Corvette: Vignettes from the Life of a Santa Fe Muchacho” and first appeared in “Green Fire Times.” Enjoy!

Hunting La Llorona

Dark lady of tears
Weave the spell that stirs my soul
But wander not to near
 
During the glorious months of summer, the kids in Elvis’ neighborhood played hide and seek, tag and invented elaborate games. One game that they never tired of consisted of boys chasing girls and holding them captive inside a jungle gym at the local park. The girls pretended to be horses and the boys played the role of cowboys with the most successful hombre being the one that possessed the largest harem of stomping and snorting ponies.
After the sun went down, the favorite pastime was telling scary stories. Elvis and his friends never became bored with the recycled tales. They sat in circles on the green grass of a host family’s lawn as the nightly ritual commenced. Girls shrieked and the boys laughed nervously when the story-telling began.
Ghosts and witches were popular topics of conversation along with devils and graveyards. However, as far as terrifying characters were concerned, none rivaled the queen of terror, “La Llorona.”
La Llorona was a name that evoked fear in the hearts of all Santa Fe youngsters. Her legend had several variations but the basic theme went as follows:
La Llorona was a beautiful woman who married a rich nobleman. She was very happy and she gave birth to three radiant children. One day her husband left her for another woman and she was so consumed with rage that she took her children and drowned them in an arroyo filled with water. After she realized what she had done, she went mad with remorse and drowned herself. Since that day her ghost had wandered the arroyos of northern New Mexico wailing for her dead children.
The story went on to warn that if any child happened to be near an arroyo at night and was unfortunate enough to run into the weeping ghost, a horrible fate would await. Some storytellers claimed that her victims first saw a mysterious red light that hypnotized them. These unfortunate souls were not able to move and La Llorona did away with them like she’d done with her own children. If she felt merciful, she might take an unlucky child prisoner and lead her captive to a demented fortress where she made the poor creature her eternal slave. These prospects were unnerving and youngsters cringed at the idea of running into the weeping woman.
Needless to say, kids took special precautions to avoid arroyos after dark which pleased their parents greatly and there was little done to discourage the legend.
In a twisted way, getting scared was so much darn fun. Elvis never felt as alive as when his heart was pounding and he was peering around nervously looking for a glint of supernatural light or the sound of a grieving woman in the distance.
One typical summer evening in late July, as dusk fell and the stars began to peek out over the horizon of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, all the kids in Elvis’ neighborhood grew weary of tag and kick-the-can and headed over to Floyd’s front yard to see if they could muster up the thrill of delicious fear one more time. Of all the neighborhood kids, Floyd told the best stories.
“If you look in a mirror while you hold a candle in a dark room, and you say three times, ‘El Diablo is my Padre,’ the devil’s face will appear over your left shoulder. I’m telling you the truth. You can try it yourself but remember when you see his face, make the sign of the cross and say, ‘In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, be gone!’ If you don’t do this right away, the devil will go down your left shoulder and into your heart and you’ll have a heart attack and die instantly and go to hell and become the devil’s slave for all time.”
The terror-stricken troop sat quietly contemplating this fate and not a sound could be heard except for the incessant chirping of crickets.
“Let’s call the devil tonight,” Ramona impulsively suggested.
Floyd seemed startled at the challenge but then he upped the ante. “Let’s call La Llorona instead. We can head over to the arroyo and do a ceremony to make her appear.”
Floyd had done it again. Elvis felt a familiar cold sensation crawling up his spine just when he’d thought he was too jaded to have it happen once more.
The adventurers’ numbers quickly began to diminish as soon as it was determined that the plan for the night would be conjuring up La Llorona. Several kids remembered that either their parents wanted them home early or some mysterious chore was still left undone and needed immediate attention. In the end, there were only four foolhardy madcaps left; Floyd, Elvis, Rudy, and Ramona Jaramillo who was never afraid of anything.
The nearest arroyo lay across the neighborhood park, near the school. The night was pitch black so Ramona ran home and returned a few minutes later with a flashlight and the brave troop began its quest.
“Did you guys check out the moon?” Rudy asked.
Elvis looked up and it was a thin, silver sliver in the dark sky.
“It’s a witch’s moon” Floyd whispered. “It’s a sign for sure that she’ll be out wandering around the arroyos tonight.”
They trudged silently in a tight pack following the slim ray of the flashlight that shone on the grass until they had crossed the park and had reached the bank of the arroyo.
“What do we do now?” asked Rudy breaking the silence in a solemn voice.
“We wait,” said Floyd. “We wait and listen for the sound of her sobbing. Ramona, turn off the flashlight. We’ll sit in the dark and ask her to come. If anybody hears crying or sees a red light that means she’s here.”
Elvis suddenly felt sick to his stomach and he had an unbearable urge to jump up and run for the safety of home. The only thing that kept him sitting there was the stronger fear of leaving the company of his friends and exposing himself to the evil spirit somewhere in the blackness of the empty park. He shut his eyes tightly and his breath came out in short, shallow puffs.
Floyd continued, “Remember not to stare at her red light or you’ll become paralyzed and you won’t be able to run away when she comes for you. Stick your fingers in your ears so she doesn’t hypnotize you with her voice and make you fall asleep. Just make the sign of the cross and say Hail Mary’s as loud as you can so she can’t possess you. It’s your only hope.”
Ramona responded to Floyd’s warning in typical Ramona fashion, “I’m not afraid of no pendeja, La Llorona. If she has the huevos to show up, I’ll shove this flashlight down her ugly boca!”
Somehow Ramona’s bravado did very little to reassure Elvis. He looked over at Rudy who was holding his head in his hands and moaning softly. They sat on the edge of the ominous arroyo for what seemed like forever and waited for their impending fate. The minutes dragged on but nothing out of the ordinary took place other than a couple of wandering dogs that came by and sniffed once or twice and went on with their business, whatever that was.  Rudy had calmed down and as Elvis’ eyes adjusted to the dark, the terror he felt began to ease away.
Floyd let out a fart and Ramona exclaimed, “Damn, cabrón, that smell is the scariest thing that’s happened tonight.”
Everyone laughed in relief as they realized that she was probably right and their reputations would be greatly elevated when they returned to the neighborhood in one piece. Already they were each privately elaborating their experiences in their own heads to make it seem like they had escaped from the evil clutches of the weeping woman by the skin of their teeth.
Elvis and his gang scrambled to their feet anticipating the warm tortillas and soft beds that were awaiting them, when an unmistakable wailing sound arose from the dark arroyo. It was the most mournful cry imaginable. Rudy let out a terrified whinny and for the first time in Elvis’ memory he heard a tone of vulnerability in Ramona’s voice as she cried out,
“Mama, mama, I wanna go home to mama.”
They stood frozen in terror. Floyd grabbed the flashlight and pointed it waveringly in the direction of the heart-rending shriek. The courageous lot held each other tightly, contemplating their doom when suddenly out of the darkness a pair of glowing eyes appeared and rushed toward them. Then another pair of iridescent eyeballs flew out of the arroyo. Near their feet, two huge alley cats tumbled in a chaotic ball of flying fur and exposed claws.
Screaming at the top of their lungs, the terrified kids ran like the wind across the park and straight to the safety of their homes and families. It was several days before anyone brought up the subject of that night and by consensus they all agreed it was best forgotten.
 
 

What Does It Mean To Do The Easy Thing First?

Fatema Mernissi, the Moroccan feminist and author of the memoir Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood says that her grandmother once told her: A woman’s life is hard. Do the easy thing first.
I’ve often thought about this, without the sense that I fully understand it. Certainly, women’s lives are difficult in specific ways. For many of us of us, our grandmothers’ lives were harder. I assume Mernissi’s grandmother was talking about not just disempowerment and patriarchy, but also obligation and character. And perhaps also desire, and hope.
So, what does it mean to do the easy thing first? I’ve tried to practice this when I’m frazzled and overwhelmed. Water the garden. Grade papers. Tidy up. Grounding things that I know how to do, that need to be done. It works.
But what about doing difficult things—long put off projects, delayed honest conversation, harsh fiscal realities? It seems like here I have to struggle against procrastination.
On the other hand, the older I get, the more I respect easy. The marriage that seems meant to be. The grant project that appears to write itself. The obvious next step in taking care of something. Should I post my grandiose solution to the world’s ills on Facebook or should I volunteer or get to know my neighbors? Small is “easy.” I’ll do it first.

IMG_1968
Meow Wolf Image (where whatever you do is easy!)

Interview with Miriam Sagan at The Unprecedented Review

Excellent new e-zine–The Unprecedented Review.

I’m the featured poet for August, with an interview. I’ve copied a few questions here–check out the mag for all of it and more!

Question: What was the biggest challenge for you when you began publishing?

Insecurity, I guess. I was published young and frequently by the small press world, which has remained my home. But then I’d hate what I wrote, and would suddenly see its flaws once it was in print. And then I’d get an attack of shame and fear over how exposed I was. I once told my father he couldn’t read a book I’d written—I think it was DIRTY LAUNDRY: 100 Days in a Zen Monastery (La Alameda Press, re-issue New World Library) which was a joint diary kept by me and my first husband Robert Winson. It was pretty raw stuff. I told my dad—“I need privacy” and he retorted “You have a kind of odd way of showing that!” which was funny and true. It remains a problem to this day.
Rejection is an obvious challenge. I didn’t like it when I was starting out—I still don’t. But I got used to it. The self-loathing is harder—it still remains. I’ve learned to sit with a book when it comes out and have some emotional space before it goes public and the promotion begins.

Question: What advice would you give other poets trying to break into publishing?

You just have to persevere. Send out, send out, send out. Don’t get sidetracked by rejection—it doesn’t have much meaning. There are so many great magazines out there—and very lively e-zines. Try new magazines, but do read so you get a sense of the editors’ taste.
Also, build your community. Create it if you have to—start an open mic, a magazine, a writing group, a reading series, a blog. Promote yourself but with your friends and fellows—it is much easier and more fun.
And write a better poem. I recently was serving as interim Poetry Editor for The Santa Fe Poetry Review. I read 3000 poems. The majority were generic. Poetry is not a neat tidy art. Aim high, fail beautifully.
A fine poem will always get published if you send it out enough.

Question: If you could only write one more poem in your life, what would you write it about?

A perfect haiku that awakens the reader to the nature of the world and the nature of the self. It’s a great question, but I have to tell myself—dream on! It may not be possible.