Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Poems from Miriam Sagan

Poet Miriam Sagan

Miriam Sagan was born in NYC, raised in New Jersey, educated in Boston, liberated in San Francisco, and has lived more than half her life in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon). which won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement in 2016.  Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, Texas.

How To Find Henry David Thoreau

1. Wake up at 5 am. Take a small plane to a larger plane.
2. Arrive in Boston, a city you have too many feelings about.
3. See your body asleep in a motel bed, as if from a great distance.
4. Get on google maps.
5. Watch Lexington Street turn to Moody turn to Common.
6. Get lost at Hanscom Airforce Base and feel humiliated when the soldier you ask for directions glares at you.
7. Overshoot.
8. Ask the turbaned owner of the convenience store for directions and go back.
9. Bear left on to Old Bedford Road.
10. Turn right on to Virginia Road.
11. Sit at a green desk on a mustard colored floor.
12. Eat a peanut butter sandwich, because what would Thoreau eat?
13. Write haiku, by hand.
14. Get slightly bored because it is raining.
15. Realize you could have stayed home and read WALDEN.
16. Admire bright green lichen on tree trunks and the piles of oak leaves this raw November afternoon.
17. Realize every day is a fine day for Henry David Thoreau.


On Elizabeth Bishop

I bought, second-hand, not wanting to waste
The Complete Poems
of Elizabeth Bishop
in paperback
that someone named Emily
had already marked up
in green ink
for English 310—Section 1.

Her handwriting, firm and round
makes puerile comments
“Mirror to the soul?” and asks
“But who is he really?”
something we’ll never know,
are not supposed to know,
about hermit, gentleman, or boy
who populate these poems—
an animus, poet’s
masculine self
yet not lying wan
like a century of pale
Pre-Raphaelite girls
floated tubercular
in bathtubs
full of flowers
for the painter’s brush
to smirch.

I don’t think Emily
has chosen these poems herself,
they seem assigned, and she
although obviously a careful student,
is baffled.
Her comments further obscure:
“The negotiation between what is real
and what is real”
Then underlined.

I know she has gone on to other things.
The copyright is more than thirty years old.
Emily, if she is even still alive
has children, grand-children maybe, and I’m guessing
is on a second husband
and has forgotten all about
the inexpensive book
she sold back
or gave to Goodwill
or the library sale.
I doubt she misses it
while I, sitting in bed
am reading it bit by bit
hope not to drop
one stitch.

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