Columbus, Ohio. Poem & Images Miriam Sagan

Finally On Our Own

river roll
under James Wright
bridges

freight train
crossing
in a dead language
I couldn’t begin
to claim kinship

confluence
of this
and something else

remnant
column
of a deteriorated
neo-classicism

an invisible
watershed, or wellspring
mid-western     manners

what you wanted
was simply an insert
in an industrial scape

praise or curse
so far from the deserts
of my
     awakening

wind, lead
coverlet, shroud
not everyone
lying down
     was dead
some were
     in the bathtub

some were dreaming

on the dotted line
a nameless bird
flew
from here to there
unaware
of the horizon.

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano by Miriam Sagan

I wrote this during a visit to New Orleans, about five years after Katrina. I’m posting it here, for the Gulf in general. Also, in the strange synergy that poems sometimes have, Rosh Hashana is approaching. And my Beit Midrash group is starting up for fall–soon to be discussing Jacob wrestling.

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano

torah of morning
of noon
of dusk
of midnight
of moonrise
of daytime gibbous moon
flood water

torah of terror
of anarchy
of forgiveness
fire in the water
a dog
a child
bent street signs

torah which unrolls
the story of Noah
an ark
a dove
a raven
streets as rivers
leviathan

a house
your house
a house
caught in a tree
the army corps of engineers
a pumping station
a levee

torah of glass bottles
dangling blue glass hands
a message
SOS
hope
despair
a twisted menorah

torah of brass bands
coronets and horns
twisted shofar
blowing not air
but water
clarinet set with rubies now mute
torah of the broken flute

torah of Jacob
wrestling with the angel
who cheats to win
God’s lie, the rainbow sign
(no more water
the fire next time)
words float away

and the piano of glass
of sand, strings plucked
by fish
how the water took even
our idea of land
and in drowned sleep
spirit moved on the face of this deep.

I Must Go to the Creek Again by Michael G. Smith

I must go to the Creek again.
Again, I will ask only for silence
to hear the riffs
drifting by. Vagrant
and wanderer, the Creek is
captive and conveyor of storm,
its story and futurestory
the tree that falls
into it from its
eroding banks. How many
years to tumbledrum a grain
of sand a mile along its bed?
Alone responsible,
and not, the Creek brings
song to all it can,
Chickaree’s scold
of my innocence
(this a trespass),
eddies in the round rejoining
beginning, voice born into it.
And must I pray? I ask
how to give words to a time
stopped, the Creek creeking.

how many times have I walked across a field in America by Miriam Sagan

how many times have I walked across a field in America

leaving a green place behind

rows of cabbages and tiger lilies
purslane you might eat, but only very new
blue chicory

good-bye to you I loved and you I didn’t

back to the city

and a million pairs of shoes

and a million pairs of strangers’ eyes

in this moment I might be twelve or sixty

I promise myself I’ll return

I’ll make it right

next time, I’ll love all of you

blue chicory