The Sunday Poem: Sharon Niederman... Wars Ago

Sharon Niederman writes, "The Muse wears many disguises.  For years I have seen the same street person walking up and down Central Ave.; in winter, she wraps herself in a tattered blanket, and in summer her face is deeply sunburnt. I try to give her money every chance I get, but sometimes traffic makes that impossible. I no longer recall her name, but I believe we all know her."  Indeed we do.

One of the region’s most prolific freelance writers, Niederman’s work frequently appears in Sunset Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and many other publications. She is the author and editor of several books on Southwest culture, two of which have won the Border Regional Library Southwest Book Award for “contribution to the history and culture of the Southwest."  She was the co-editor (with Miriam Sagan) of New Mexico Poetry Renaissance, a 1994 anthology of 41 New Mexico poets.


Wars Ago


Remember when the sight of a fallen sparrow
Broke your heart? You vowed to tell its story
As if storytelling would save the broken lost
Remember when you marched down Fifth Avenue
Swore to end the war, so many wars ago?

Remember when you came to town, fell in love with
Desert sunlight, Indian drums, the discovery itself
Placed a pawned turquoise ring on your finger
Promised you'd never leave and you haven't

But today you left the museum
Walked downtown Central Avenue
Met the toothless beggar in torn black lace
Offered her your last dollar bill
"What for?" she asked,
Then looked you in the eye
For the first time.


Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email theditchrider@gmail.ocm.

Views: 38

Comment by Margaret Randall on July 17, 2011 at 8:17am
Sharon, this poem really resonates with me. The juxtaposition of early hopes with the ways in which we have had to make do, accepting less than the wished-for goal yet finding reason and ways to struggle still. I especially love the poem's ending. Thank you.
Comment by Ben Moffett on July 17, 2011 at 8:35am
Wow. Together with the quote at the preface and the shocker at the end, the poem is extremely powerful and nicely put together.
Comment by Dee Cohen on July 17, 2011 at 12:24pm
Nice poem. I like how the fallen sparrow and the homeless woman are both heartbreaking. I think I know the woman in the poem. She is called Cherokee and she also asked me what my dollar was for. Thanks, Dee
Comment by Zuzu Petals on July 17, 2011 at 2:56pm
Brava!
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on July 29, 2011 at 11:14pm
Sharon, yes, and she would ask what for.  But if anyone asks me first, I give if I can, as I am sure they knw what for, even if it's to buy a fix of some sort.  We all have our fixes to buy.  Interesting that the woman you speak of doesn't beg--nor does she accept money--she has some other way of surviving.  Like most of us.  she is one of us, a true loner, adn a very tough person indeed.  Thank you for your poem.  I like poems and don't have to ask you why.
Comment by Grumpy on July 30, 2011 at 7:57am
This poem is my story too.. Ah! the pawned turquoise ring that also wedded me to my new life here.  Thank you, Sharon.

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