My Poems Were Rejected For Being Sentimental by Miriam Sagan

And that surprised me, although I’m always interested in editorial feedback. Obviously a difference of aesthetic between me and this publication for short poems. However, it got me thinking.
I think of sentimentality as superficial positive emotion instead of authentic feeling. The dead person we grieve was a saint. Mothers are perfect. You, my darling, bring to mind only hearts and kisses.
But I’m not against passion, admiration, desire, mad love. In fact, I like those things.

Here is one of the rejected poems:

is no longer a planet
but you’re still
in my bed
no one knows
how to understand

Perhaps it is a bit sentimental? At least, it has sentiment. I’d hope that Pluto and the words gravitational wobble would keep it off a Hallmark card. I also think “in my bed” if not cynical certainly isn’t gushy. So, we have a bit of science, a bit of the mystery of love…yes indeed, I did write this poem. In any case, it’s mine.

Haunted by Japan: Photographs by Gail Rieke and Poems by Miriam Sagan

Certain experiences are so productive creatively that they continue on. Gail Rieke has been to Japan numerous times, and I only once. But we both visited this year, and I had the good fortune to talk to her before and after our trips. I’m combining our work below–not from the same exact places but I think from a deep ethos.

if there is a kami of sadness
she worshipped too long
at that shrine

hung books from wires
that could never
be read

not just ephemeral paper
but pages of air

the foam of waves
marbled the bookends of sand
in suminagashi

every woman
the world over
is writing a book
of herself

made of flesh and
north wind

Wayside Shrine

I haven’t heard
the temple bell
in so long

or ever before
seen a Buddha’s shrine
on the Tokyo
business street
or deep in country
where the earthen
sides of the lanes
loom over my head

offered an orange
like the ones
on the small trees
despite the freezing weather

for a few yen
lit a stick
of incense
with my cold gloved hands

stars, worlds

this smoke
that goes nowhere

Omer Poem by Ya’el Chaikind


Tell me your secrets
darkness, open
your guarded gates

and let me glimpse
behind the towering fears
and boogeymen

who haunt my daydreams,
cloud my vision
so that I might watch

my life through a lens
freed of rainbows
or the glittering sun

on a summer pond,
instead, show me how black
is the perfect

backdrop to reflect
the stars mirrored in the retina
of our souls.

Ya’el Chaikind

Omer Day 13:
Yesod Shebe Gevurah
Foundation within Strength, Boundaries, and Discernment

3 Questions for Lee Nash

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

As a poet with a broad range, at any given time I could be writing a haiku, a received form or a piece of flash fiction. This means that I could be focusing on a work anywhere between one line (a monostich) or a paragraph or more (flash). The important first step is to get my initial thoughts on screen, then I try to proceed at an unhurried pace, to find the line that is pleasing to my ear and eye, that fits the essence of the piece. In the draft stage I want to see what emerges – happily now and again the first try is pretty close to the finished product. If there isn’t a good definition then at some point I will start a revision, at which stage (for example) a sonnet may become a free verse poem, or vice versa. The process is organic, with the line taking its length and shape on the page in the most natural way possible, the line breaks setting the pace, working like gears to drive the reader along. The line needs to work with and not against the poem’s internal rhythm and cadences, to be in sympathy with its words and sounds, and the reaction the whole invokes.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

Yes, in the sense that we produce the fruit of who and what we are. I suspect that the traits expressed in our words are linked as much to our physiology and psychology as to our life experiences. When writing a specifically body-oriented poem (for instance, about a C-section, or a burn, or a colonoscopy), the sense of relationship between words and body is keener, simply by definition, but all poems seem visceral rather than intellectual at source. It’s a fascinating question and this body/writing correlation is something I would like to explore in more depth.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

I often think that it increases my intensity when what I really need to do is lighten up! Saying that, I do enjoy writing light verse from time to time. To me writing is a work of faith, and this is exciting but also quite daunting. It’s not the same as having a skill; for instance, I play the flute and know I can pick up the instrument and play a piece as long as I have practiced enough. With poetry, even if you are honing your craft, understand the dynamics, and have publications to your name, you are creating something from nothing each time (as all artists are) and you cannot afford to lose your self-belief. This is not always easy. A poet must accept that the poetry business involves regular rejection and so develop a kind of impassivity to all that, yet still stay sensitive to inspiration and new ideas.


guessing his name…
the scent of jasmine
on fine rain

Stardust, February 2018

premature birth
I choose the thinnest needles
and the softest wool

Pulse, 16 February 2018

sundog an unexpected windfall

The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Haikuist Network, 16 February 2018

morning kiss
the warm sting
of his bristles

Chanokeburi, Love Videoanthology, 14 February 2018

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Heron’s Nest, and The Lake. Her first poetry chapbook, Ash Keys, is published by Flutter Press. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website:


Mochi Cafe

the rabbits are pounding rice
into mochi
on the moon

and in the little statue
outside the cafe
surrounded by flooded rice fields

we order by the picture
and are not disappointed
in what arrives, steaming, in tiny cakes, chrysanthemum bowls,

or floating in broth.
For some reason
I promised myself

I wouldn’t buy
much of anything
in the way of souvenirs

then find myself
looking in the long narrow mirror
in an exquisite silk robe

mostly black, then
out of old kimono

in which I look
so exactly like—or even so much more like—

out comes my billfold
of yen, and I buy
not just that but a reversible farmer’s hat

I’m set now
to wear this day’s memory
pulled around me

or in woven ikat
to shield my eyes
from the sun of other places, other seasons

waiting outside
with my shopping bag
I watch egrets take off and land

out of the irrigation ditches
and I bow to something shimmering
just out of sight.

potted pink cyclamen, Tokyo alleyway, Shinto shrine: poem by Miriam Sagan

potted pink cyclamen, Tokyo alleyway, Shinto shrine
with a little playground
fantastical panda
to ride
and I, like everyone else,
can enter the gate
drop loose change
beneath a carved dragon
for the spirit’s upkeep
wring the bell
with a rope

bicycles passing by
can’t tell
how overwhelmed I am
by the Buddhist altar
in the street
where someone left
a cup of hot the
now cooled
and the stone statue
seems worn away and very old

a few days
after New Year’s and gardeners
have set out
ore than two kinds of lettuce
in boxes,
the kindergarten boasts pansies,
spider plants, geraniums, Christmas cactus
live outside
although it’s cold enough
for hat and gloves

I can ask myself
did I fly
east to west
for so many hours
just to admire
this river at dusk
this suspended bridge,
I can enter the gate
and bow
as I learned to do
so long ago—
my life
a meritorious