Which Makes A Better First Poem In A Book?

Which makes a better first poem in a book?

The Fool

the baby is naked
I’m clothed
she has the hose
and foolishly I shriek
“don’t get me wet!”
egging her on

her blond tousled hair
bangs in her eyes
she can say “ant” and “please”
but what is she really

so too the neighbor’s bees
cast runes in the book of the day
purple blossoms
I’ve cultivated for
pollinators all

in the ruined city
there is honey
beneath the masonry
(still standing in the desert)

how close, in autumn,
things are
to going
to seed.


Along the Chama

I greet everyone I meet
on the river path

the fisherman in his red shirt
his old wife with the little dog

“cute dog,” I say
waiting for her smile

out towards the Brazos cliffs
it’s raining

mist like a Chinese painting
and huge stone calving out of the mountain range

a partial but sincere rainbow
appearing and disappearing

and the “check tire pressure” light comes on
and we turn back

the air machine is on the blink
because “it was hit by lightning”

the convenience store clerk won’t make change
until I pull my grandmother-in-trouble face

really, the tires are fine, just a little low
not flat

it’s dark now, and I don’t know
which neon sign is prettier


The first was my initial choice. Then, at my editor’s suggestion, I randomized the manuscript (i.e. threw it up in the air and arranged it blindly). I do like what resulted.


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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

9 thoughts on “Which Makes A Better First Poem In A Book?

  1. They’re both wonderful, but I like the turn in the first one. Though the final 2 stanzas in number 2 are very arresting. Is there a specific direction the book will take? Would that make a difference? Just the ramblings of a currently unmoored mind. My little ones left yesterday, starting to make their way to a new life in France. Feeling a bit bereft.

    On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 10:10 Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond wrote:

    > Miriam Sagan posted: ” Which makes a better first poem in a book? The Fool > the baby is nakedI’m clothedshe has the hoseand foolishly I shriek“don’t > get me wet!”egging her on her blond tousled hairbangs in her eyesshe can > say “ant” and “please”but what is she reallythi” >

  2. It will depend on the collection as a whole, but my vote with seeing only two, is for the Rio poem,the second one. I feel like the VACANCY/NO VACANCY ending invites me into the rest of the collection. Maybe? Quick response….

  3. Both are good, recognizable as your voice…but what is to follow? Tie it into the general direction of the book? Best thoughts – it’s soooo hard to proofread & edit one’s own work. Just follow your heart, here.

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