Dropping The Bomb…right out of History

What gets measured is what gets taught in today’s embattled public school system where the teacher “teachers to the test.”
And so when these cuts are reported we can assume that the subjects have been cut along with the test.

Students in high school U.S. History classes across New Mexico this year will not be tested on massive corporations and monopolies being forced to dismantle during the early 20th Century, the racial and ethnic conflict as people moved from farms to cities, or the bravery of Rosa Parks in fighting segregation in the South…I have suspicions that the events and topics eliminated from the U.S. History EOC are politically motivated. Events such as early 20th Century trust busting and the subsequent regulations on large corporations have been stricken. The racial and ethnic conflict from late 19th Century urbanization has been stricken. The mobilization of the war industry during World War II that led to President Dwight D. Eisenhower warning of “the military industrial complex” has been stricken. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan has been stricken. The Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks has been stricken from the standards as well.

The reactionary Republican policy behind this is clear. And was protested on Thursday at the Roundhouse. I was glad to be in the audience for a rousing speech by Lois Rudnik and many other well-thought out arguments against the omissions.

The history of the atom bomb IS the history of New Mexico. Robert Oppenheimer, never at loss for an appropriate verbal response, said famously at the Trinity test site “I am become Death, the shatter of worlds.” He was quoting from the Bhagavad Gita. Perhaps less famously he also said, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”

I hope to visit Hiroshima in January when I’m in Japan. Physicist Enrico Fermi’s sister, though, has the last word on the explosion. She wrote him ” I commend you to God, who alone can judge.”

Harp & Poetry Concert

You are invited!

Linda Larkin and Julie Hawley, harps and Miriam Sagan, poet

December 1, 2017
5:30 pm
1st Presbyterian 208 Grant Ave. Santa Fe

Includes original work, traditional Irish melody, Ladino song, and Hildegarde of Bingen.
Runs about 30-40 minutes.


Advent by Miriam Sagan

let’s ask ourselves
what is possible—
orange berries
clinging to the thorns

the moon wanes
but like love
if only a sliver remains

cattle in the dark field
angels on the doorstep
each house has wings
grown from our intentions

and darkness
with its mother’s caress
touches again, again,
the soft cheek of light

Suzanne Vilmain on Raku and Wendell Berry

I got this as an email from the ever amazing Suzanne Vilmain. Her freedom of expression continues to inspire me. Look for her work in the gallery above Pasqual’s. Not to mention on my mantlepiece and my living room fruit crate booksheves.


BEFORE DARK / a collaboration between words and ceramics……

I recently enrolled in a  printmaking class that required an intro to drawing….
I responded that I draw with words meaning letterpress but really 
I read/write/print/think/xerox like drawing – like a skipping rock – surface skimming – gesture grabbing –
noticing white space / what’s not there / juxtaposition….

but i wanted to read the poem “Before Dark” w/o having to identify with the male gender of a kingfisher…
so i changed/added “she/her” where wendell used “he/him/his”….

or remove the reference altogether…..
focus on the words that speak to me….

wild in flight
could only have made for joy
like a skipped rock
darker….. dusky….. sudden….
the night had accommodated
led by delight

— this is how i feel about raku….. wild joy skipping sudden accommodated delight!!!!

4 pieces from a series on basket pots now showing at Cafe Pasqual’s Gallery

a thank you to all my teachers/mentors for leading me on the path to raku!!!
even when/if you didn’t know or like or appreciate raku……..

Give Me Opiates Or…by Miriam Sagan

I take an opiate every day. Am I an addict? Could be. Do I care? Not at all.

Let me backtrack. I’ve been in chronic pain for over forty years, since surgery that saved my life but failed to save both my lungs or the right side of my body. A good physician told me that after years of pain, it gets harder to handle. The mind/brain can’t manage it as well. I also think the accrued years—plus the natural process of aging—makes endurance more difficult.

I take tramadol. Before Reagan’s war on drugs, it was classified as an analgesic. Now, a class four drug. The drug hasn’t changed, though, just its legal status. I also take ibuprofen.

Ok, you New Agers. I get rolphed, do PT, exercise for 90 minutes every day, and take hot baths with salt. I meditate, I do progressive relaxation. You know what else? I complain, sometimes I sob, I gimp around. I limp, I nag my husband to massage me, and I curse.

And I hike. A glorious walk around the beaver ponds on Upper Canyon—a pleasant stroll for my friend, Mt. Everest for me, but so worth it.

And I collapse. I sleep much more than most people. My bed is my friend. Sleep resets my pain clock. I can start again.

The war on drugs brought us the current prison population, and untold suffering for minor crimes. It brought us the illegal market that now trades in opiates. It brought us narco-terrorism. A failure by all my counts. Not unlike Prohibition.

I would never underestimate the suffering of addiction. I’ve known junkies and I’ve been to 12-step meetings. I was a drug and suicide hotline counselor. Although frankly the substance that I’ve seen cause the most destruction is alcohol.

Here is what doesn’t help me. Muscle relaxants. Homeopathy. Acupuncture. I’m open to experimentation, and no doubt always will be. Right now I’m trying osteopathy, which I like.

It’s muscular skeletal pain. Which tramadol is designed for. Tramadol has made the last five years far pleasanter. I’ve had a full time job for part of that. I can sit through an opera. I’ve driven cross country. These things are less possible—even impossible—without it.

Without at least ibuprofen, I don’t think my life would mean much to me. I live in a state where physician assisted suicide is illegal. And yet I know I’m not the only person in pain who thinks of this from time to time. I live in a state where tramadol is a controlled substance requiring frequent prescription renewals and drug testing. The only silver lining is that this regime keeps me in touch with my internist.

Because let’s admit it—I have a doctor I trust. She’ll give me an honest answer if I ask if the tramadol is dangerous, or of the PT is doing any good. Ongoing medical care is the difference between lonely addiction and an actual approach.

I’m no authority on addiction. But I do know that many of us are addicted to various substances—including caffeine (which isn’t that easy to kick—as I know—having detoxed several times). Coffee and tramadol help me get through a day that includes political activism, creativity, friends, family, and just the housekeeping of life.

I don’t like Big Pharma, but I find the attack on it hypocritical. Unless you are living a monk’s life or off the grid, you are consuming in a corrupt capitalist culture. I don’t drink water that comes in plastic and I try to wear Fair Trade clothes, but I have a host of imperfect habits. Let’s just say I’m not giving up my anti-inflammatories for political correctness.

For a long time my personal goal was to be able to cook dinner after a 4-5 hour work day. If that isn’t your reality, I don’t feel you are in a position to judge or regulate me. Or make it less possible for me to live.

Shirat HaYam by A.J. Schuman

Shirat HaYam by A.J. Schuman
Sing our deliverance, Miriam, mother of song!
Horse and rider are cast in the sea!
Repealed the belly torn upon bronze point!
Revoked the rape of daughter while we watch unable!
Repented the stink of blood on sand and food for the fly!
Relented the shame of unburied husband torn by the vulture!
Reversed the hollow eyed starvation of the survivor!
Released the curse upon generations!

His armored troop carriers burn in their own fuel.
His cannon barrels blast bent.
His jeeps stalled wheels half buried.
His half-tracks shredded.
His rifles discarded hastily ammo boxes unopened.
His warplanes never arrived.
Take up tambourine, Miriam. Hum the hum you hear.
Walk away from this awful beach.
Smell chaparral, Miriam, smell the sticky monkey flower.
Hot wind flaps clothing answering rhythm.
Gravel in shoe the feel of freedom.
Miriam, dance the color of streaming cloud sunset.
Bitter dew on leafy lichen on sheared granite, dewy savor.
Weighing nothing, ruined teeth and patchy hair and scars.
Striped uniform threadbare against Polish April damp.
A village somewhere, a thatched roof somewhere: please some bread.
Nowhere: thicket of birch trees, pasture gone shrubby.
Back to Kiev if we could get there, to Palestine, to America, the moon.
Delivered without address; escaped without refuge.
Miriam, dance the dance of the future.
Dance grandchildren eating magical avocadoes we may never taste.
Sing us a song in their soft vowelly English.
Oh, Miriam, we shall never understand the words.
We would laugh at the llamas on their farms never even in pictures.
Let them float above the earth in zeppelin cities.
Let them wear tunics reflective as brass mirrors.
Let their sandals have wheels.
Let them make medicine from … moonlight.
Let the whole world come to them for their moonlight medicine.
Miriam, this is deliverance.
This is the land can’t quite imagine where we must now go.
Who is like you, among them all?
Who is like you, amazing, unique,
Astonishing, as we tell it, working wonders?