Playing The Odds by Miriam Sagan

Playing The Odds

a great clay jar
full of koshares, stripped clowns

shaking dice
you are sure that at night

when no one is about
they scramble forth

it is one thing to look
at the players before the slots

who seem, you say
as if they are at work

and another to ask myself
what brought me here

highway going north
so familiar

yet, how everything has changed
we must remark

I remember dancing at the Line Camp
thirty years ago

I remember when this, so magical, unknown
was not what I called home.

Haiku Pathway!

We’ve been working on it as an idea for a long time, and all summer as a reality. In Santa Fe Community College’s central courtyard there will be almost 40 haiku stones, designed by artist Christy Hengst.

The opening is Thursday October 5, 2017. 4-6 pm in the courtyard. I’ll have a formal evite soon.

Orange Colander

My lesson was to focus the camera on it, not the background. These haven’t been edited because I’m not up to that yet!

I focus the camera
on the orange colander
as if it were
a naked goddess
carved in marble
or gilded Aphrodite

Paul Eluard said: “There is another city and it is within this one.” Neil Gaimon uses that as a way to explore magical and parallel realities. But I heard it originally in a Zen context where it refers to something rather different. However, I need to stop thinking of the concept as a To Do item.

The pink saki bottles were harder. It’s easier said than done–to focus.

Reading My Old Letters

My sister Susannah moved from her house to a condo in Ohio. And sent me a packet of letters I wrote her, mostly from the 1980’s. It’s quite poignant to look at—and I can hardly stand to read it all. I go from being a run about with numerous lovers in San Francisco to meeting and falling in love with my first husband Robert. And then I complain about his lack of ambition. And worry about his hypoglycemia. On to Santa Fe, where I don’t expect to stay, and soon enough I’m pregnant. Robert reports that all over town people ask him “Has the poet had her baby?”
That baby is now a grown married woman, the never ambitious and eventually very ill Robert is long dead, I am long married to Richard and old enough for social security. A cliche like “where does the time go” is hardly ample for my feelings.
In the letters, I recount a meeting with an old sweetie, the one who got away, who broke my heart. I write: “He is out here on business and we spent the day talking. He actually cried about the past—but perhaps more about the dog than me…. Of all things, X. also called to apologize for his behavior. Old lovers never die, they just get schmaltzy when you’re about to get married…”

On the literary front, I’m embarrassed to report that in 1983 I was trying to write a second feminist utopian novella. The first was “Journey to the Commune of the Golden Sun” which was published in “Maenad” but is too embarrassing to re-read today. There NEVER was a second such novella—I refer to a few attempts to write one as VERY DIFFICULT. Well, now there is. I’m about to start the third major revision of “Future Tense of River” which I started in 2015…more than thirty years past my projected date.

These letters are so obviously me. I give romantic and sexual advice, I speculate on every bit of gossip, I read Tarot cards, and review novels, mention when it rains, and give updates on everyone I care about. There are rather elaborate descriptions of cats—my cat trapped on the roof, our old orange family cat and more. I have gigs, or I need more gigs. Then I have too many. I buy red Capezio shoes. I report blowing my budget on plastic jewelry. I can’t really remember the shoes, but I still have some of those funky earrings.
There is introspection, too. I say: “I know exactly what you mean about showing your real self to only a few people…this makes it difficult to ask for help.” A problem I note to this day.
A postcard for 1989 shows snow geese at the bosque and notes that “Isabel eats applesauce and can (sort of) drink from a cup.” And yes, it’s raining.

Why Do I Fast by Baro Shalizi

Like other of Baro’s friends, I’ve asked him about Ramazan (Ramadan). I’m delighted he has written about this in a way that will enlighten readers.


Why do I fast?

It is a question many of my friends ask. I have been in the habit of fasting since I was quite young, perhaps eleven or twelve years old. I have always found fasting to be soothing, calming, almost meditative. As I grew older, I found it to bring about a spiritual awakening, a closeness to my maker, a way of removing myself from the franticness of daily life—I didn’t have to plan for meals, call friends or clients for a cup of coffee or tea. It also made me more generous towards those who had less and didn’t get three square meals a day. Through fasting, at least on a physical level I understood their suffering. I cannot even imagine what the psychological and emotional suffering must be. It is one thing to voluntarily fast and quite another to fast from lack of choice, lack of food.
As a youngster, I fasted a couple of days a year. After all, it isn’t proscribed until after puberty. As I grew older, I fasted the full 30 days required, not eating or even taking a sip of water from dawn to dusk. Having seen the benefits of fasting, now, in addition to the month of fasting, from time to time, I fast for a couple of days or a week at other times of the year. I have often wondered if like Biblical King David, I could live my life by fasting alternate days?