For Hildegarde of Bingen

Little did I know that when I joined an interfaith torah study group early this year that it would lead to a harp concert. But I’ll be performing with two harps for advent. Harpist Linda Larkin invited me in, and I’ll have full details on the December 1 concert soon.

But this is about trying to respond to Hildegarde Von Bingen, (1098-1179), composer, monastic, and notable figure of her day. Despite many ecstatic minutes listening to her work, I felt stymied. Finally I had a breakthrough–and here it is! It will also be part of the concert.

A string is strung across the cosmos
Pluck it once, pluck it twice
And it reverberates
Like the rings of a ringed planet

Pluck it once, pluck it twice
Women’s voices in the stone abbey
Like the rings of a ringed planet
Rising out of an enclosed garden

Women’s voices in the stone abbey
Rise to hot stars blazing
Out of an enclosed garden
An interval of angels

Rise to hot stars blazing
Bue dwarves, red giants
An interval of angels
Without which no blade of grass grows

Bue dwarves, red giants
No green tendril uncurls
No blade of grass grows
Without this winged encouragement

No green tendril uncurls
No letter of the alphabet
Without this winged encouragement
No final or first breath

No letter of the alphabet
Without this string strung across the cosmos
No final or first breath

Tanka in a bottle

I love this project!

Bill Waters ~~ Haiku

Yesterday — a sunny, warm Saturday in autumn — I installed my “tanka-in-a-bottle” project in a local woodland park! (If you’re thinking “Tanka… Wait. What?”, please see my post for July 25th. ;- )

In the end, I decided to not hang each little bottle from a tree branch, which was my original plan. Instead, I made a small sign (to be clear that they are free to take and are not contraband of some sort) and hung them all on a trail signpost. I’m hopeful that my installation will catch the eye of passersby, despite the distractions of smartphones and earbuds.

The materials in hand: tanka bottles, the sign, a piece of string, and two pushpinsThe materials in hand: tanka bottles, the sign, a piece of string, and two pushpins.

Pinning up the signPinning up the sign…

...hanging bottles on the string…hanging the bottles on the string…

...and voila…and voila!

Poet and PoemsPoet and poems.  :- )

Many thanks to U.K. poet Caroline Skanne for providing some tanka of her own to…

View original post 51 more words

More Contemporary Mexican Haiku

HOMERO ARIDJIS (Michoacán, 1940)

A lo Ryokan

Al menos los ladrones
me dejaron una cosa,
la luna en la ventana.

At least the burglars
left me one thing,
the moon at the window.

Martha Obregón Lavín (Mexico City, 1943)

Un pensamiento
se eleva con el viento;
es mariposa

A thought
elevates with the wind;
it´s a butterfly

Francisco Hernández (Tuxtla, Veracruz, 1946)

Pino seco
en medio de lo verde:

Dry pine
in the midst of the green:
a flare.

En la gran jaula
truena el canto emplumado
del relámpago

In the big cage
thunders the feathered chant
of the lightning

Note: the word “feathered” (emplumado) is very probably a reference of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god of the Mexica culture (Aztecs).

Haiku curated & translated by Cristina Rascon Castro

LOVE–why one size does not fit all–by Miriam Sagan

One Size Does Not Fit All

Sometimes I feel depressed that the dialogue around sex and love hasn’t changed much since I was in middle school. The same lines are drawn—good guys vs. bad guys. Freedom versus dependency. Boredom versus intimacy. And everyone seems to seek a compromised solution. For example, the belief that—

You’ll be happy if:

1. You have enough sex-(not too much to make it—gasp—a relationship based on sex or too little sex–less than the speaker prefers.

2. Let’s get gender-ed. The relationship should have the right genders—originally het, expanding to gay, gradually including trans…but people should know who they are and act accordingly. There should only be two…or in polyamorous situations everyone should know each other and discuss everything.

3. There should be no secrets.

Well, let me say that fifty years after middle school I’ve know very happy relationships with unique sexual agreements, super complex gender pairings, and lots of secrets. And wretched relationships based on norms, full of open sharing, and yes, even mutual respect.

So—what gives?

The poet Ovid said: Love is a kind of war, and no assignment for cowards.

This is not the current thinking. What if it turns out that relationships are tumultuous, full of shadows, acting out, changeable agreements, and privacy? Most importantly, what if one size doesn’t fit all?

I’ve known many very creative women who apply utterly bland standards to romance—and accept what society tells us about love—in a way they never would accept advice about mothering or career.

What makes a relationship happy can be judged only from the inside, by the participants. I have an amusing relative who said of her long marriage—it’s neurotic and clingy and even fucked-up, but hey, it works for us.

So I wish people would avoid sweeping statements about relationships. Usually remarks like—a woman absolutely needs to be economically independent to be happy—is just something the speaker has discovered about herself, not a universal.

I’ve had some cute one size fits all clothes. And some disasters. We know the best clothes in the world are made individually—whether a traditional dress stitched by a street vendor or a suit from a London tailor.

The same can be said of relationships.

Now That There Is Water On The Moon by Beyzad Dayeny

Beyzad Dayeny is beloved at Santa Fe Community College not only as the head chef of food services but as a poet. Born and raised in Iran, his literary background includes the tradition of Persian poetry, including the ghazals his grandmother could sing and recite from memory. After having traveled the world, he and his family settled in Santa Fe.
He was always a poet, keeping his work close in a notebook. But in the past few years he has taken to the podium, giving readings and contributing to “The Santa Fe Literary Review.”
There is no more appropriate choice for the first poet to launch the Santa Fe Community College Fine Art Press. The book is beautiful, in the fine press tradition, and is the brainchild of book artist extraordinaire Patricia Pearce.

The Passport

In the chest pocket under my shirt
If you unzip the skin
Open the flesh
And unhook the ribs
Tucked in the upper right shelf
Of a chamber encircled by
A moat of red fluid
You will find a certificate of serenity
Hidden within the pages of
A passport with
A permanent visa to peace
Do not lose or misplace it
Nor bury it with me

Images by Patricia Pearce & Poem by Miriam Sagan

I love this artist’s work–here are some stellar examples from the Book Arts show in the round house.

And a poem I wrote for her some years ago as part of a Vivo Gallery collaboration.


What is in the sealed book?
Pages embalmed in wax:
Question or obsession
Taken from the vanishing lending library. Truth
Must speak, even as it leaks,
Something served
With a slotted spoon.

Secrets like an Egyptian tomb
Beneath this daily life
Not just the past
But those aphasic dreams
Where things seem
To be of equal weight
Like trying to cross a border
With a suitcase full of composting leaves
Foliage chosen for its skeletal shape,
Notes from a B flat clarinet
Low oboe and bassoon,
A sound without teeth.

These leaves must turn to topsoil
These pages to silverfish
This mirror to a mask
This thumbprint to clay cuneiform
Line of dominoes
Greasy pack of cards
Classification of seashells
Collection of raindrop fossils–

Where these things meet
They spell your fortune
Name where you dwell, the house, the street
Where you will be happy.

Can We Survive on One Car? By Miriam Sagan

What’s this episode of our life going to be called, I asked my husband Rich. Survivor Island? Lord of the Flies?

We weren’t trying to survive in the wilderness. No, we were trying to live with one instead of two cars.

I’ve always felt it was important for me to have at least some barriers between myself and consumer culture. Not even so much to help the earth as to save my sanity. I hate being overstimulated, and in clutter. I don’t have a strict policy about what I won’t participate in. For example, years of no television gave way to the demon spawn of Netflix (which I love). But if something is added, something needs to go. Right now I have only a vaguely functional cellphone. But the household is considering a shared smart phone for traveling.

So, time for an offset. And the beloved aged Toyota Corolla was costing a lot in repairs. And didn’t feel trustworthy for a trip. And a friend of a friend loved it and wanted to buy it.

So we are down to one car. Sharing a vehicle in New Mexico can be seen as just one more chapter in the rope course or trust game called matrimony.

But Rich doesn’t see it that way. He sees it as a return to roots. Born and bred in Chicago, his family depended on public transportation and only got a car as he approached middle school. It’s also a return to another set of roots—Twin Oaks commune where Rich worked a stint as the vehicle scheduler. (Which was not a job without stress and conflict).

Hence, large sign up sheets have appeared by the calendar. I get to sign out the car as needed. Right now, it is easy as Rich is walking to work and doesn’t need the car most week days. But the part of the year when he isn’t working full time may present more of a challenge.

However, the advantages are obvious. Our lifestyle is less wasteful, and less expensive (although we’ve factored in the occasional inevitable need to rent a car). Less maintenance. The increased simplicity makes me happy. And I get to park in the driveway!