Last Day of Poetry Month! Art by Ilse Bolle & Poem by Miriam Sagan

Unseen Bird

seedpods, bark, twigs, vines, grass
wait as a nest

but for what—
unseen bird of the air

wait as a nest
as blank paper for words

unseen bird of the air
everything must come to rest

as blank paper for words
memory waits to forgive

everything must come to rest
knots unravel, scrap metal rusts

memory waits to forgive
the boat holds heavy cargo

knots unravel, scrap metal rusts
can you reproduce the spider web?

the boat holds heavy cargo
comes to shore on the island of tamarisks

can you reproduce the spider web?
the heart has an entrance and an exit

come to shore on the island of tamarisks
boxes contain grief’s encaustic

the heart has an entrance and an exit
beehives of a lost country buzzing

boxes contain grief’s encaustic
but for what?

beehives of a lost country buzzing
seedpods, bark, twigs, vines, grass

From Vivo Gallery’s Giving Voice to Image project.

Poetry Month #29: Mary Sherman

On the Wind; In the Air

Hummingbird called me awake this morning.
On the wind; in the air.
Intimate voices.
Self-inflicted wound/fatal.
Moving in all directions at the same time.
A storm between the temples.

“No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by his assassin’s bullet.”

Tears, now.
We have the right to remain silent>
He said, “When you sit down to meditate, you sit down for everyone.”

Somatic illumination.

Quotation from Robert F. Kennedy

Poetry Month #28: Yosano Akiko

It’s a new moon. I learned yesterday that in Jewish tradition you can set your intentions for the coming month at Rosh Hodesh. The holiday is particularly for women. This poem hung on a poster in many of my apartments when I was in my twenties. I think I’ve used it to set my intentions for a lifetime.

The mountain moving day is coming
I say so, yet others doubt.
Only a while the mountain sleeps.
In the past
All mountains moved in fire
Yet you may not believe it.
Oh man this alone believe,
All sleeping women
Now will awake and move.

Poetry Month #27: Judy Katz-Levine

Mississippi John Hurt

I would desire the hands of Mississippi John Hurt, the fingers
just slightly bent and with a touch of arthritis, though he
has spent a life-time caressing that gentle guitar, calling
to his folks you got to travel that lonesome road all by yourself
and the humbleness of his voice, just a touch of a rasp, eyes
that know far more than the eyes of a scholar, glancing up at the camera
now and then only now and then, it isn’t really trains one hears
in the blues guitar, it may be a walk with a grandchild down
by the river, or the grace bestowed after singing “Amazing Grace”
in the church near the homes of cousins getting ready to go out
and toss a baseball to the sky. I would desire, as I age, the fingers
of Mississippi John Hurt, which symbolize a life lived without
greed, without any malice whatsoever, any grab to power, and the
unearthly gentleness in his voice, yes, I would desire that.

First appeared in the “Sunday Poet.”

Poetry Month #26: Basia Irland

At 516 Gallery in Albuquerque–tomorrow

Thursday, April 27, 5:30pm

Basia Irland: Reading from READING THE RIVER
Introduction by author and cultural critic Lucy Lippard 

and I’ll be reading 1-2 poems about Irland’s work.

CONFLUENCE: On The Art of Basia Irland
by Miriam Sagan

The river
Flows with its currents
Of ice and time’s seeds;
Polar caps may melt, drawn
Into warming seas, winding
Into a lost geography.

Water might be a library, an archive, a graphology
Marking the globe with endless patterned rivers
And each direction gives birth to wind
As you try to stay current
As if you might draw,
In moist sand, a flower gone to seed.

Or maybe it is seed
Gone to flower—who can measure all the hydrography,
Aquatic maps, and constellations, drawn
With a stick in dirt, to mark an estuary, a river
Or the heart’s currents
As they wind and unwind.

A rise in the wind
Scatters seed
Across a current
Navigated by books of ice, a library
Dissolving in the river
Like converging lines drawn

Towards an infinite point. Drawing
Down the voices of the wind
That sculpt cliffs with the river;
Thoughts seeded
To create a story, biography,
In which the past remains current.

We ourselves must join the current.
Ice turns to water, mist draws
Moisture from the graphs
Of wind
Encircling the earth, seeding
A hope that can only be called river.

All rivers head for the sea, flow, debris, currents.
A seed is resurrection, you draw
A manuscript of earth which is everyone’s autobiography.

Poetry Month #25: Clyde Long

Midnight Saturday morning

Oh man, week’s end at last
sitting here at table’s head
wine in hand, still focusing,
following through I guess
ready for weekend’s reprieve.
On and on these weeks go
as I default to daily oblivion
to join yours and theirs —
I am with you, so not so alone.
So what? So what are we
anyway? Question marks are the
best punctuation these days.

Clyde Long

Poetry Month #22: Phil Whalen

While we’re on the topic of haiku–some from Beat poet Phil Whalen–the only venerable American poet I ever considered to be in my family. He was alternately my charge, my mentor, and…well, just himself.

Awake a moment
Mind dreams again
Red roses black-edged petals


Bouquet of HUGE
nasturtium leaves
“HOW can I support myself?”


Ginkakuji Michi

Morning haunted by black dragonfly

landlady pestering the garden moss

Poetry Month #21: Haiku by Etheridge Knight

I admired and followed his work from my Boston years on–but never realized he wrote haiku.


By Etheridge Knight

Eastern guard tower
glints in sunset; convicts rest
like lizards on rocks.

The piano man
is stingy, at 3 A.M.
his songs drop like plum.

Morning sun slants cell.
Drunks stagger like cripple flies
On jailhouse floor.

To write a blues song
is to regiment riots
and pluck gems from graves.

A bare pecan tree
slips a pencil shadow down
a moonlit snow slope.

The falling snow flakes
Cannot blunt the hard aches nor
Match the steel stillness.

Under moon shadows
A tall boy flashes knife and
Slices star bright ice.

In the August grass
Struck by the last rays of sun
The cracked teacup screams.

Making jazz swing in
Seventeen syllables AIN’T
No square poet’s job.