Fairy House Preview

So exciting–we’re entering the third year of poetry in the fairy houses on the dog path of Santa Fe Skies RV Park off of Route 14.
We’ve enjoyed hosting poems by Bill Waters, and are thrilled to preview Devon Miller-Duggan. Here is one of her poems. All of them will be installed by early summer. Stay tuned!

Mushroom  

All the dogs know we’re here.
None of the dogs wants you to know
what they know about our sun-cap and curved gills.
None of the dogs believe you’d believe
the dreams we puff out just for them,
just for them through the S of our door.
Look closely as you can,
closely, closely. Perhaps
your dog will breathe just right
so that you glimpse
rainbows just behind the door.

Mushroom with sculptor Tim Brown, whose vision infuses the themes of the Fairy Houses.

The Edge of Now by Mary Strong Jackson

The Edge of Now
by Mary Strong Jackson

I can’t reconcile what can’t be reconciled
don’t know what to do with this acknowledgment—shape it
into a pendant to albatross my neck. No one is innocent but what is innocence?
We dream and wake with plans, pursue impossible imaginings—
some succeeded—cleared forests, damned rivers,
downed buffalos

From tiny tots pulling over water glasses, we continue reaching
no matter or because of the cold rush down our bodies, no
matter what exceeds our grasp, we reach for more

My friend tells of pulling the trundle bed out for her daughter’s sleepover
first time since her little sister died who once slept there
they gasped at the shape of emptiness where the once small self
dreamed her dreams—shock and sorrow traversed
their bodies anew snagging memories
of sorrow and love entwined

Humans will be humans no matter the snag and pull
of collective memory. We each hold a ball of earth
our own mass to voodoo with sticks and spirits
poking pins in vulnerable spots and each other

I can’t reconcile what can’t be reconciled,
so I’ll pull a chair to the edge of now,
remove the albatross from all
our necks—I’ll try love,
silly and stale as this
sounds. Love,
for who and what
is now or has
been
I’ll let this love snag
memories knowing
love entwines
with sorrow

How To Poetry Post!

How To Set Up Poetry Posts

Many years ago, when my friend Ana moved to Portland, Oregon, she discovered something she knew that I’d love. On my first visit to her she took me out walking to see local poetry posts—simple boxes on a post where the owners changed the poems displayed according to mood and season.
Ana knows me well—I was immediately entranced. This is a kind of simple diy project, somewhat like a Little Free Library. These are nicely documented at https://lauraofoster.medium.com/poetry-on-the-block-literary-posts-abound-in-portland-1a30fcf9daab

An excellent source is also: http://www.owntheboards.org/a-box-upon-all-your-houses-the-spread-of-poetry-boxes-and-how-you-can-get-involved/

“Basic poetry boxes include a container – similar to the sort housing real estate fliers – mounted atop a pole. A handful of Portland residents specialize in building poetry boxes – – who sell their work for $100-$200, depending on style and materials. (Editor’s Note: these older prices may have gone up.) Participants often opt for less expensive options, though. Indeed, one of the beauties of the poetry box phenomenon is its simplicity. (…) many “poetry lovers built boxes for themselves or purchased real estate flyer boxes and got right to it.”

I was interested to read that the posts are also used as community projects on public land. This was ultimately what I was inspired to do.

This is why there are ten poetry posts on the campus of Santa Fe Community College—still curated by me! An analogous group of posts was put up at Institute of American Indian Art, but I don’t know if they are currently in use.

If you are interested in installing one, ask a local crafts person to make it for you—or if you are a woodworker, you can do it yourself. At one time it looked like they could be ordered from the Portland area but I couldn’t find a perfect fit, and shipping of course adds to the cost.

A neighborhood or cul-de-sac might consider installing a set and maintaining them together. I’m always glad to consult: msagan1035@aol.com.

Here are some of the current posts on campus. The array is currently featuring book artists.

The first image is the alcove next to Fine Arts—work by Mary Ann Crowe.
Courtyard C shows work from Cynthia Wilcox.
The garden on Fitness Center path highlights Gail Murray’s garlic poem and image.

Artist Cherie Sampson

cheriesampson.net

“every.single.one” is an autobiographical solo performance work that depicts a life altered by a diagnosis of hereditary breast cancer.  Throughout 2017, Sampson documented her experience with the cancer, from diagnosis through treatment and recovery – collecting audio, video, photographic material as well as medical records. The documentary material contains the essence of the performance narrative as well as creates an immersive audio-visual space in which the expressive storytelling through movement & spoken word  is interwoven.  Creating the “every.single.one” project has been a healing process in itself, allowing Sampson to reflect on the cancer experience and in the words of feminist poet Audre Lorde, “examine it, put it into perspective, share it and make use of it.”

Fingers & Flags by Ann Malabre

Fingers & Flags

Someone in Ukraine dies this minute
crushed, blasted, sliced, pierced
their body depicting
Russian invasion

And I walk my dogs
drink coffee
disgusted, distanced,
thousands of miles away
I search the news
Kyiv still stands
middle finger raised
yellow and blue flag flapping

I hold my breath
you see, because here,
here in America I
need to know
need to breathe
need to exhale too

I live the unprotectable borders
of a woman’s body
and know defeat

And, you know,
this heart of mine
beats so strong too,
and inspiration knows no borders

My cells rally
citizens of me
sing in solidarity
with tankfuls of courage
explosions of hope
standing tall
staring down
facing frontal assaults,
antiaircraft guns of injustice
you just can’t flinch

raising my flag and finger
believing in miracles, you know.

***
Ann Malabre, is first and foremost a mother of four in Gallatin Gateway, Montana. She is a writer, an educator in trauma awareness and nonviolent activism, is a survivor of and advocate for survivors of gender violence. She is trained in and facilitates family constellations, is a trained trauma support coach, and is a consultant in building trauma-informed and restorative educational communities.

Helen Pashgian: Presences

On Thursday I had a remarkable experience. My friend Carolyn and I went to see Helen Pashgian’s “Presences” at SITE Santa Fe. I could say various things to try and explain it, and there is info below. But all I can really say was that it was a transcendent experience.
As if to highlight that, I ran into numerous people I know, including beloved friends from out of town. And Gail Rieke, whose work I often share in these blog posts. Here are some of her photos.

All I can tell you is–if you are local, please go look. It is only open until March 27

 

SITE Santa Fe presents Helen Pashgian: Presences, an exhibition celebrating Pashgian’s contributions to the Light and Space movement and her technical prowess as an innovator in her medium of industrial plastics. Using cast resin to examine light in solid form, Pashgian creates sculpture and immersive installations that explore illusion, perception and light.

This first-of-its-kind exhibition in New Mexico surveys this trailblazing artist’s five-decade career. Helen Pashgian: Presences shows the breadth and depth of her work and takes viewers on a journey through poetic investigations of light and space.

Grandpa George, The Gangster Lepke, and a Platypus by Miriam Sagan

My grandfather, George Sagan, founded the New York Girl Coat Company in 1916. That was not his real name. He was born Gershon Liesenbaum in the Ukraine, a borderland between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Holy Russian one, between Kiev and Odessa.

Gershon became George in America. But until the late 20th century we did not know that our family name was not Sagan. My father had found George’s exit visa from Russia. It was for Liesenbaum.

My father searched for an answer in his own imagination. George had bought Mr. Liesenbaum’s exit visa. Or, George had murdered Mr. Liesenbaum for the visa. My father actually proposed this theory without irony. My grandfather’s power to impose his will was legendary and survived even his physical death.

The most likely answer was more mundane. My grandfather Gershon, a young teenager, was in the Ukraine with his sister and her three children. She died. He was entrusted with bringing his two little nephews and one niece to their father Louie in New York City. Louie may have already remarried at this point. It is likely that Louie’s last name was Sagan.

George tied nephews and niece together with a rope so he wouldn’t lose them on shipboard. At Ellis Island, it probably made sense to take their and his brother-in-law Louie’s last name, Sagan.

One of the children tied to the rope grew up. He attempted to get an education but by the Great Depression found himself working in the garment industry for George, as one of the prime cutters. His son was Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer. On his deathbed, Carl told one of my first cousins who was interested in family history: “You aren’t really a Sagan. The Sagans were the smart side of the family.” George’s descendants were educated and successful. But we’d been told, and had to believe, we weren’t smart like the Sagans, i.e. Carl. And in fact we weren’t Sagans, but Liesenbaums.

In his own way, my grandfather cared not just about material success but beauty and justice. However, it was the justice of a gangster and the beauty of a robber baron that drove him.

The iconic story told about him was George’s meeting with the famous if perhaps second-string Jewish gangster Lepke. When my grandfather opened for business, it was in a storefront on the lower east side. One of Lepke’s henchmen came around and dunned George for protection money, the price of doing business, to be paid every Wednesday. Of course he paid.

A few months later, a second henchman appeared, demanding protection money to be paid on Fridays. My grandfather rebelled. He, a callow youth, demanded a meeting with Lepke. He was taken to a dairy restaurant on Avenue B., a table in back, men in hats.

George made his speech about justice—he would pay once, but not twice.

Lepke nodded in his fedora. Then, he offered my grandfather a job working for him. George politely declined, paid protection but once a week, and went on to make millions.

This story was told in my family not so much as an example of how ballsy George was but of how he had a true sense of fairness. It was not until I was middle-aged that I realized the absurdity of this, crusading for the right to pay protection money only once.

My grandfather’s gangsterism extended to his philanthropy, which was itself vast and generous, yet self-serving. As a small child, I too had been encouraged to be
philanthropic. I had saved up part of my allowance week after week to join the Bronx Zoo. I would be a member, with free admission, discounts, and best of all, a member’s garden party with a private viewing of a rare platypus. I was about ten years old, and ready to give my money to the zoo, when Grandpa George got wind of my stash.

We were alone, on the wraparound screened porch of my parents’ house. He loomed over me and demanded I hand over my savings to donate to plant trees in Israel. But my goal was already set. Israel, no. Platypus, yes. George yelled and screamed, towering over me. My father appeared like a deus ex machina, also shouting, “Leave her alone! It’s her money!”

I went to the members’ party and ate finger sandwiches and chocolate cookies shaped like leaves. I saw the remarkable platypus. I was the only child there, the only young person who had bought herself a membership. Old ladies in hats smiled at me. I planted not one twig in Israel.
***
This first appeared in the memoir BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE from Red Mountain Press.

Poems of Peace and War by Michael G. Smith

For several years I have been working on poems about disturbance and assemblage. They now comprise a book-length manuscript. Disturbance is explored as a metaphor of that posited by ecological disturbance theory – a disturbance to a landscape, such as a volcanic eruption, avalanche or forest fire – allows new organisms to populate the terrain. By assemblage, I mean a work created by grouping found or unrelated objects. It, too, has a home in ecology and ecosystems.

Since Vladimir Putin’s immoral and deadly invasion of Ukraine weeks ago I have been thinking about refuge and sanctuary in the lights of disturbance and assemblage. It seems to me refuge temporally occurs before sanctuary, the latter potentially more stable. I could be mistaken. Nonetheless, we all have become refugees of one sort or another as a result of Putin’s myopic and tragic misadventure. Telescoping out, we see uncountable others who are endangered by human transgressions, too. Thus, these two poems.

Disturbance. Refuge

You still the moment to ask why I do not invite disturbance.
For what does not increase entropy with each decaying tick
of the atomic clock? Seeing into each person as they arrive in
the tent, I know pursuit and search, and raise a water glass to
cracked lips. Bodies stretched by the light of the moon, rippled
water mirroring my face, comfort’s edge props up our
lives. We fill with the emotions of being, being safe where we
were meant to be, baseless violence adding an e making each
of us a refugee.

Assemblage. Sanctuaries

Without wild animals and wildflowers, what are we? Bit by
bit, the capitalist tallies bitcoins. There are things the body
wants to remember: dusky light, the damp chill wait for red
fox and rare wolverine, elk seizing the backcountry meadow.
Steely dream and flexible verve populate arteries, nerves and
muscles. If rust and wither curtain and ascend, apparitions all.

SeedBroadcast

Yes, it snowed again, but still my mind turns to spring–and seeds

I’ve long followed the work of eco-artist and activist Chrissie Orr. She and Jeanette Hart-Mann founded SeedBroadcast, a collaborative project exploring bioregional agri-Culture and seed action through collective inquiries and hands-on creative practices. SeedBroadcast holds the belief that it is a human right to save seeds and share their gifts, to grow food and share its abundance, and to cultivate grassroots wisdom and share its creativity.

https://www.seedbroadcast.org/SeedBroadcast/SeedBroadcast.html

How Are You?

Fine, thanks.

Or not.

Many years ago, right after I was widowed, I dreaded that question. Obviously the asker was just being polite, and had no desire for my honest details. However, bereavement was a rather altered state for me, and I couldn’t let it go.

I started saying: I have no idea. And how are you?

I usually got at least a smile, and sometimes a good response.

Recently on a long road trip I asked a cashier: “How are you doing?” She had the been-there-done-that-around-the-block-more-than-once expression sometimes found on faces in remote convenience stores in Arizona. Places where although almost nothing happens really anything could happen.

“I do better if I don’t think about it,” she said.

“I know what you mean,” I said. Then added. “Thanks. And take care of yourself.”

“I will,” she said.

How am I?

Old. Worried. Burnt out on pandemics. Horrified by war. Happy to be a grandma. Happy to be now married to Rich. Writing. Complaining. Sometimes I feel the presence of the divine and sometimes I do not. My left knee is not what it once was. Nor my right hip. My sense of humor is holding up. I love my socks.

Frankly, I have no idea.

It’s my answer, and I’m sticking to it.