the red neon SANTA FE

Author | Miriam Sagan

the red neon SANTA FE
on the top of the Gothic Revival
railway building
across from my hotel room
on a rainy night in
Amarillo, Texas—
my love for you is pure,
an unusual
thing in this world,
and I’m perfectly happy
with you in my bed,
and although
the news of another poet’s
fame made me jealous
I count myself lucky
to not be translating
out of my native tongue.


each week
my mother’s death
approaches more closely
but at the speed
of an inchworm or
garden snake
crawling slowly
towards a calm lake
regarded as a shoreless ocean
my mother grows
and her death
like a shadow
or mirrored reflection
keeps pace
and is always just her size


magnolia blossoms
on the varnished evergreen leaves
hot springs, arkansas—
pale as the face
of the sad geisha
in the novella
of snow country—
in the old photograph
the black attendant
serving the white woman
in the bath
shocks today,
while on the men’s side
in a statute
of Egyptian proportions
an “Indian Maiden”
knees before the conquistador De Soto
offering him water—
the earth is feminine
as is
the present moment
where in the ornate domed
ravaged Russian women
as if they had been born old
and wearing these violently
colored shower caps
and all
their green glass jewelry


platform mounds
covered in grass
mark a spot
of sacrifice
girls slaughtered
at the burial
of an old man
captives or daughters
like something
I didn’t want this
for you
so made sure you were born
in the twentieth
of complexity
where you could
walk the streets
of a decaying
midwestern city
in early evening
in summer
and wonder
about loneliness
and rivers

About the Author | Miriam Sagan 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, 2016). She founded and heads the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College. Her blog Miriam’s Well ( has a thousand daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in two national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. 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.