STASH–a new chapbook from Miriam Sagan

This is memoir, mostly of childhood, mixed with poetry. Here is a section.

The Snake

The boy wanted the snake. Ten years old, my first husband stood by the side of the pond in the deciduous woods. The snake was thick, thick as his boyish wrist, and he was good with snakes; often caught them and took them home. Kept them alive and what passed as happy for a snake in a glass terrarium, fed them mice. His mother forbade this, despaired, eventually collapsed and gave in. She just refused to clean his room. He kept it tidy.
And this snake was free of charge. Twisted on a branch out in the water, healthy skin, its sharp, glittering eyes perceived like part of its brain. Its tongue tasted the air. He tried and tried, using every trick he knew. Another, longer branch, like the snake handler he was. But the snake would not comply. The pond was too murky, too cold, too deep. The sun began to set. And then the snake swam off, in the opposite direction. Tired and muddy, he went home.
And looked up the snake in his big snake book. And identified it properly for the first time. It was a species of pit viper. The world’s only semiaquatic viper, and New Jersey could be the top of its range. North America’s only venomous water snake. As an adult, it was large and capable of delivering a painful and potentially fatal bite.
It was a water moccasin, and it could kill a child.
He’d tell me this story more than once when we were married, and it would remain the story of the one who got away—the snake. But to me it was the story of the one who got away but was surely coming back—death.

From Cyberwit in India–I’ve enjoyed working with them.
https://www.cyberwit.net/authors/miriam-sagan
I also have a few to give away–just ask me at msagan1035@aol.com

CHATTER!!!

I’m extremely excited to be reading twice next weekend for Chatter. And I can’t wait to hear the music!
NEXT SATURDAY: April 9
• Doors open at 10am—concert 10:30
• In accordance with SITE’s building policy, face masks are now optional.
• COVID protocols are subject to change.
• This concert will be held in SITE’s Meyerson Auditorium.

Lee Hyla Warble
Charles Ives Violin Sonata no. 2
Nino Rota Trio for Flute, Violin, and Piano
Jesse Tatum flute
David Felberg violin
Judith Gordon piano
Miriam Sagan poet

NEXT SUNDAY: April 10, 10:30 am
At 912 3rd in Albuquerque
• As the risk from COVID in our community decreases, Chatter is changing our policies in line with other local theaters and arts presenters.
• For events in April, we will no longer be verifying vaccination status for entry to Chatter.
• Masks will continue to be required of the audience when not consuming food or drink, and we will continue to provide supplemental air filtration.
• These protocols are subject to change.

Stephanie Ann Boyd Aurora
Julia Gomelskaya the hint only
Richard Cameron-Wolfe Code of un-silence: a prayer
Juantio Becenti Divertimento no. 5 “Melodrama” (Chatter commission)
Jesse Tatum flute
Jeff Rogers horn
Ruxandra Marquardt violin
James Holland cello
Jeff Cornelius percussion
Judith Gordon piano
David Felberg conductor
Miriam Sagan poet

Check details & get tickets at:
https://www.chatterabq.org/boxoffice/

North Rim: Poem by Miriam Sagan

From a recent visit to the Grand Canyon.

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North Rim

it’s not often I can see like this
sitting beneath the twisted pinon tree
that breaks a stone boulder
it’s a far view in both directions
appears as mineral
layers of the Colorado Plateau
cut like a surgical patient
to reveal
a slow intensity
of hope

tourists pass going up and down the trail
snapping pics of themselves, each other
wide open meaning of earth

it seems simple
to be either
at the rim or the river
but it’s not…

psalm of updrafts
raven’s flight
these wings might have created wind
roots might just be another way of saying branches
the fire burns and burns
leaves charred trunks and small aspens
clusters of little sisters
girls of the trembling leaves
turning yellow, orange, autumn
equinox sitting cross-legged
cradling my cane
who sees me, sees just another person
feels cold, heat

give me a kiss

M is for Medusa by Miriam Sagan

In our girls’ school uniforms we watch “Un Chien Andalou” in the auditorium. I’d rather be in the bathroom, hanging out and smoking Balkan Sobranies with my friend Juliet. She favors the black ones with the gold filters. They taste of elsewhere. A hole opens in the man’s palm and ants crawl in and out. I’m unimpressed. We have plenty of ants, in every sandy crack in the sidewalk. My father is at war with all nature, setting mouse and ant traps all over the house. And yelling at us if we leave the sugar bowl uncovered. But he is losing the battle. An old mop abandoned on the back porch is colonized by yellow jackets who build a nest in its snaky Medusa head. My father’s three daughters swell from flat-chested childhood into the busty rebellion of womanhood. We roll up our uniform skirts and show our legs, a shadow between the thighs. We believe, for the first time, that we are real, and begin to act accordingly. 

http://lostpaper.blogspot.com/

Review of Luminosity

Poetry Review

Luminosity by Miriam Sagan
Reviewed by Karla Linn Merrifield

Miriam Sagan’s newest poetry book, Luminosity (Duck Lake Books, 2019, 80 pages), is an eye-opening poetic experience that will leave you wanting more from the poet’s distinctive modern Renaissance mind.  Most of us can remember the dramatic 2017 total solar eclipse, but I suspect none of us rendered the great celestial event into such wise, lyrical poetry as may be found in Luminosity. In “Woman, Sleeping I-20,” Sagan writes, “we are going to drive to Nebraska/ to see the total darkness” and we realize that by contemplating total darkness, we may also comprehend what it is to be bathed in total light, whether from the sun emerging from eclipse, or the moon—a recurring metaphor for light in darkness—or from Ceres and Orion’s belt in the night sky.

From the opening page, every poem brings its luminous reward. In the lead poem, “Book of Darkness,” we are told, “…light must close the cover/ on darkness.” Many are such quiet declarations we can ponder. In “A Funeral in Pawnee,” Sagan invites us to consider “the loneliness of beauty.”  She also asks questions we need to answer for ourselves. Again from “A Funeral in Pawnee,” she asks, “what did I expect/ to be betrayed?/ and what supplies/ did I prepare/ from this betrayal?” Which betrayal? What supplies?! I’m still mulling over the concepts she addresses.

Luminosity delivers many moments of pure delight. One simply must smile when reading in “every poem,” “every poem/ should have some fireflies”.

The book also touches us with bittersweet flashes. In “Dunkin’ Donuts,” we read, 
                                                         Each of us 
                                                         carries a map of the day,
                                                         sometimes creased 
                                                         in sorrow
                                                         or stained
What does your map of this day look like? Where lie the creases and stains?

Prepare to be uplifted and transported in revelatory light–and shadow–from without as well as within “your different selves.”  Miriam Sagan’s Luminosity invites you to contemplate not only the “loneliness/ of beauty,” but also “the architecture/ of suffering,” knowing, however, that “Buddha nature is everywhere” and that truth will always arise from “a fog bank/ of lies.” Luminosity is wildly, boldly illuminating.

Editor’s Note:  Luminosity is available in trade paperback for about $16.00 and as an e-book for about $4.00 from most major booksellers.
http://www.songsoferetz.com/

The Electric Palm Tree by Miriam Sagan

It’s been a wonderful season for me for poetry chapbooks. First “Lama Mountain” came out from Red Bird Press and now “The Electric Palm Tree” from Flutter Press!

The poems–and essay–in The Electric Palm Tree were written several years ago at Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah.

WHERE AM I?
In a landscape pitted and mined. At the edge of three million acres of the military’s bombing range. Where bombs are buried in undocumented locations. Where I can see old munitions mounds spreading out over the landscape like the ancient Mississippian city of Cahokia. Craters. Historic aircraft. A landscape big enough to lose a plane or a bomb in. A landscape that seems to make people want to drive really fast, crash into things, and blow them up.
On the boundary between Wendover, Utah and West Wendover, which is Nevada, and which sports casinos and strip clubs.
This isn’t exactly Walden Pond.

READERS– you can purchase this at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/miriam-sagan/the-electric-palm-tree/paperback/product-23288795.html

I am also giving away FREE REVIEW COPIES. You can have one to review on your blog, e-zine, magazine, or even something short on Lulu’s site under the book. Write me at msagan1035@aol.com to request a copy.

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Flutter Press is a micro publisher, which caught my attention. It has its roots in the small press movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s, but the technology is much prettier and faster than the stapled chapbooks of the day. I’ve been watching this for a while–seeing who can make something small and beautiful–so appropriate for poetry. Editor Sandy Benitez is of a new generation, and has created a simple and elegantly sustainable way to work. The press charges a reading fee–very modest by today’s standards–and if accepted Benitez works with the author on design and cover. The author gets books at a discount and royalties. They’ve got a nice list. My book had exactly the feeling I was looking for–an old deco-ish neon sign feeling–of a motel in the desert.

When I was an editor at Fish Drum Magazine with founder Robert Winson the mag and chapbooks were published off of a rather erratic household budget. Using pod totally sidesteps this–the publisher has no outlay beyond time, editing, and designing. Granted this is quite a bit, but most small press editors do it for love in any case. I’m working to bring the publishing arm of Miriam’s Well more consciously into a micro publisher mode.

Richard Feldman Interviews Miriam Sagan About Her Blog Miriam’s Well: Part 1

My husband Rich has been brainstorming with my about this blog ever since it started. He said he had some questions, so I was thrilled to answer them. Part 2 coming later this week!

1.  How did the blog originally fit into your mission statement, and how has that changed?
I’m charmed that you even know I have a mission statement! I picked this up from my work with personal coaching.
MIRIAM SAGAN’S MISSION STATEMENT:

–To engage with as many people as possible in creative projects
–To put poetry in unexpected places where it will expand the viewer’s perceptions
–To use metaphor as a way to create connection, community, and a sense of relationship with the world
–To focus on the ephemeral, sustainable, and inexpensive

I think basically the blog still functions the way it was originally intended to. However, at the start there was a learning curve about web presence and presentation. But I do need to focus on that again and again, as in the re-design last autumn.

It also gives me a way to be creative and share writing every single day, no matter what else is going o in my life.

2.  Looking at your current list of categories, which one would you have found the most surprising when you started the blog?
I feel little out of touch with the categories. Baba Yaga and Patti Smith are the blog’s goddesses or guardians or totems, but those areas aren’t that active. Not exactly a category, but I was very surprised by the number of international contributors—that is in large part due to the ever increasingly active haiku community. So I’m surprised at how much the haiku and tanka section has grown.
3.  What do you think is the biggest current gap in the blog’s coverage?
Millennial writers. I need more voices that are different than mine. I’d love more younger perspectives. I’ve had several fantastic contributing bloggers—Bibi Deitz and Michaela Kahn to name just two—who have a lot of readers. But I’d love more from the even younger generation. You’ll note my millennial contributors are often family members—nieces, nephews, daughter—who I’ve begged material from.

***

My greatest support comes from my on-going contributors and readers. I’ve been prpud to publish so many terrific writers, and enjoy their growth and careers.
Miriam’s Well is ALWAYS looking for poetry, short fiction, art, and musings, particularly as related to our categories and in the area of haiku and other forms derived from the Japanese. If you are interested in being a guest blogger at any time, write me at msagan1035@aol.
The Well also runs a series of interviews for poets who have published at least one book or chapbook. Contact me if you are interested in doing an interview.
Miriam’s Well welcomes announcements of art openings, poetry readings, and community evens. Do keep in touch, follow the blog, and best of all—comment!

Appomattox–Poem & Photographs by Miriam Sagan

A visit to the historic site–suitably on Memorial Day.

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This poem is both about it directly, and about something more personal:

Appomattox

What if I waited
and you never returned
red flash of cardinal

What if I waited
and you never returned
wet tailless skink

What if I waited
and you never returned
locked church
bend in the road
a story of fame

What if I waited
and you never returned
sleep, death, salamander

What if you waited
and I never returned
in shame
in the shadow
of the crisscrossed swords
of surrender?

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Poetry Month #10: I Hadn’t Written Any Poetry in Six Months by Miriam Sagan

I hadn’t written any poetry in about six months, not since a creative outpouring at Wildacres residency. I didn’t notice at first, because I was so absorbed in juggling three book length projects: Bluebeard’s Castle (memoir, now a complete draft), 100 Cups of Coffee (prose and poetic musing, now about 25% underway), and The Future Tense of River (utopian feminist speculative novel which was inching its way from being a series of flash fictions to a full novel–the first 100 pages is drafted). I was completely absorbed, even a little panic-y. But then all three projects went from formless to partially complete.

Suddenly I noticed I wasn’t writing poetry, apart from haiku. I wondered if I could still do it. I started writing a bunch of short very off the cuff pieces, sometimes in the middle of the night. Five of them are published at https://formerpeople.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/five-poems-7/ and I’m copying a few below. Enjoy!

the house contains an ocean
living room furniture is islands
and even at low tide I have to wade
ankle deep
just to make myself
a cup of coffee

Our Lady of the Star,
small painted church,
names of the dead
hum with the sound of the sea
like a giant shell—
and the gravestones tilted
carved with mossy dates
ring like tossing buoys…

Insomnia,
the angel landed
and clapped both hands
in front of my open eyes—
somewhere, deep in my body
the genome
stood up and started walking