Descansos

Walking along the beach at dawn–the party is over–beer cans, burnt down bonfire, candles melted into sand.

Something happened
but you were not there
too young, too old, too distracted, uninvited.

Like that time you came upon a chicken sacrificed in Central Park and you knew to not stop but just keep walking through the black feathers.
Prayers lie like lei lines across the city
the descansos
for my neighbor
shot by the police
so many years ago
4th of July
is gone. I remember
they killed a man
attempting suicide
with a small knife.
Draw your own conclusions.
The bullets
came through the bedroom wall
where the kids were sleeping in bunk beds.
I drank a shot of vodka
at 8 o’clock in the morning with my friends
in that house. The kids must be middle-aged
and everyone else in this story is dead, except me.
There is a new descansos
At St. Francis and Paseo, the corner with the honey vendor, for a child killed in the crash. Helium balloons have wilted. You cross that intersection twice a day. In Paris, small plagues memorialize partisans shot by the SS. Most things are unmarked but that does not mean earth and its paving stones have forgotten.

Haiku by Cheryl Marita

Suitcase repacked
Then repacked. Ocean fog calls
Cat perched on top

***
Editor’s note: I like this haiku for several reasons–it has a sense of motion, the repacking and imminent travel. And it has a sense of stasis–the cat. Many a cat likes to sit in a suitcase without realizing it is a harbinger of change.
Send me a few haiku to consider for publication and if I use one I’ll give it a bit of context. msagan1035@aol.com

New Chapbook of My Poetry from Japan!

As always, I enjoyed working with Flutter press. Here are the Japanese poems collected together.

To order: click here

“The themes are rural Japan, Japanese/American history, family, travel, and constructing a sense of self in a new place. It was a beautiful experience. At Studio Kura, Isabel and I did a text/suminagashi/video installation in an ancient grain silo (a Kura) and a geocached haiku pathway in a local garden. That was the main focus. These poems were written early in the morning before our collaboration work–and many field trips–began each day.” ~ Miriam Sagan

Would you like a FREE copy sent to you? Just drop me a note at msagan1035@aol.com with your address and I’ll send one if you’ll review it on the Lulu site, a blog, or FB…something short is fine. Let me know!

Blame It On The Boogie

I’ve been thinking a lot about blame recently. I grew up in a subculture where people blamed each other for everything, even things which obviously have no human cause, like illness and mortality. In my immediate family, people were always to blame if they were sick. This was a kind of scary set up, as I intuited that if anything really bad happened to me I’d be perceived as at fault. Indeed this was the case when I had a near death brush with swine flu and lung disease at the age of 21. I was asked over and over by my parents–why did you do this, how could you do this? Of course I had no answer.
This may be a basic human worldview, particularly in humanity’s root experience as hunters and gatherers in an often unpredictable environment. Blaming ourselves–or others–is a kind of magical thinking. It certainly aggrandizes our role in the universe. Even a feeling of guilt can be an overemphasis on our own powers.
My husband Robert once wittily said: “Among the Jews of New Jersey, there is no natural death–it is always the fault of some malign influence.” This is certainly not an Enlightenment view, but I wonder if this focus on blame might not come from trauma–from the pogroms to the Holocaust. When Robert died at the age of 36 his observation was all too true–there was an outpouring of blame. People blamed the doctors, they blamed God, they blamed Robert, and they even blamed me.
I’m not immune. I often blame myself, too. People say that taking responsibility is a way to stop blame–but I think it may just be another way of taking inappropriate and negative credit. I understand some people feel nothing in their life is their fault or under their control–but I’m not one of those people. These extremes may even be flip sides of each other.
So, I have a question. What spiritual or emotional practices can be used to stop blame? I’m not looking for a full theraputic model, more like a daily or ongoing fix. What do you find helpful?

Infinity Room

I’ve been in Las Vegas all weekend at a very special event. One of my beloved nephews and his boyfriend got married. It was a beautiful ceremony–and even the rabbi cried. For these two young people it was all about love. But for anyone who came of age in the 1950’s or 1960’s there was also a deep emotion of joy and relief that gay marriage can even happen. Oddly, I have great family associations with Vegas. For many years it was the site of my husband Rich’s family Thanksgivings. And I was introduced to the city by our hostess who, with her roots in Nebraska, provided us with many down home side dishes for the turkey dinner.
Of course I like to see art when I’m here. So I got a ticket for the gallery at the Bellagio to see two installations by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

It was worthwhile, if a bit mixed.
$15.00 gets you in. The two installations are “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity” which is an infinity mirror box and
“Narcissus Garden,” billed as “750 metallic spheres form a lake on the gallery floor. A winding path invites visitors to stroll through the space and consider the distorted reflections staring back at them.”
I loved Narcissus Garden. And, ironically or not, it is currently THE place for a selfie in Vegas. The spheres have a buzz all their own, like the Donald Judd boxes in Marfa. I sat on the floor and soaked up the vibe. But afterwards, I could help wishing they’d been placed in a much larger space, or outdoors.

https://autre.love/journal/2018/12/15/yayoi-kusama-narcissus-garden-bellagio-gallery-of-fine-art-in-las-vegas

“Aftermath” is pretty transformative. But you get only 45 seconds inside. I don’t think my old eyes even adjusted, and I was just starting to relax into it when the 45 seconds were up. I did hang around catching glimpses as people went in and out. But I do wish they’d let you go back a second time, or stay twice as long.

https://www.bellagio.com/en/entertainment/gallery-of-fine-art.html