And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. Anais Nin


For A Friend Who Is Gone

It is never easy to lose a friend. For me, there was beauty in being at his side and seeing peace return to his face. I am grateful.

By October
By tone

for chuck

Opening day
you don’t watch a game
instead, blue eyes stare
listen to I love you and goodbye
by Sunday, breath labors
you ride the slow slip
into unconsciousness

you’d say, I’m in a slump this season
on lime green sheets
soft flannel
in a favorite T-shirt
reads, “Baseball is Life, the rest is just details”
no homeruns
no bases loaded
you’re still running
caught between second and third
here and there

soon enough
reluctance will melt
you’ll take the tag

you wanted to slide home
after a smack of the bat
pitch right in your wheelhouse
run the diamond
extend your body
and slide
no pinch runner for you
this inning yours
fans cheer
take your time
no clock rules this game

closing in
I rewrite the slogan
“Life is Baseball”
it’s all you need to know
the record books
paint stories with endings
photos grace the walls beside your bed
Lou Gehrig and Satchel Page
prized pencil sketch of Zeke Bonura, a
student’s gift in ‘95

once you said, I don’t collect baseball cards
after buying the one of
Ferris Fain
American League’s 1951 Batting Champ
first baseman challenged
carnival fighters before
the majors
a little like you
before college smoothed the rough edges

April now
spring training over
time for dogs and beer
sun on skin
daily stats and
flippin’ off the umps

you’d say
everything about it is good,
except artificial turf
you’d say
ballparks are the real cathedrals

there won’t be a next season
so the guys, John
Lou and Mark and all
staunch fans of other teams
Cubs, Yanks, even Dodgers
steadfast and in unison
will secretly cheer your Halos

you’ll count the W’s and L’s
from a place inside the park
eyes glued to the field for the full nine
hoping to witness
one more dog pile on the mound
you always said
Ferris would’ve beat their asses
given the chance

make a wish, love
for hummingbirds in pairs
for a series title
forget about
rain delays
the DL
splintered bats

take the 7th inning stretch
others will keep your seat warm
by October
you will ride
on the shoulders
of Angels



Tonight, Monday April 20th, KBOO FM will celebrate the poetry of VoiceCatcher3 on Talking Earth with host Barbara LaMorticalla. I will be an in-studio reader - so if you are inclined to be up, give a listen to the voices of Portland area women writers.

The details are below.

Monday, April 20th
10 - 11 p.m. PST
90.7 FM
or on the web at (streaming audio)

Q&A with Author Sage Cohen

Q&A with Sage Cohen
Author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry, a new book from Writer’s Digest Books

How does poetry make the world a better place to live?

I think poetry fills the gap left by the so-called objective truth that dominates our media, science and legislation. Many of us want to comprehend and communicate the complexity of human experience on a deeper, more soulful level. Poetry gives us a shared language that is more subtle, more human, and—at its best—more universally “true” than we are capable of achieving with just the facts.

How has integrating the reading and writing of poetry into your life impacted you?

I will risk sounding melodramatic in saying that poetry saved my life. I stumbled into a writing practice at an extremely vulnerable time in my early teenage years. Poetry gave me then, as it does today, a way of giving voice to feelings and ideas that felt too risky and complicated to speak out loud. There was a kind of alchemy in writing through such welcoming them in language, I was able to transform the energies of fear, pain and loneliness into a kind of friendly camaraderie with myself. In a way, I wrote myself into a trust that I belonged in this world.

Do people need an advanced degree in creative writing in order to write poetry?

Absolutely not! Sure, poetry has its place in the classroom; but no one needs an advanced degree in creative writing to reap its rewards. What most people need is simply a proper initiation. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to offer such an initiation. My goal was that everyone who reads it come away with a sense of how to tune into the world around them through a poetic lens. Once this way of perceiving is awakened, anything is possible!

Why did you write Writing the Life Poetic?

While working with writers for the past fifteen years, I have observed that even the most creative people fear that they don’t have what it takes to write and read poetry. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to put poetry back into the hands of the people––not because they are aspiring to become the poet laureate of the United States––but because poetry is one of the great pleasures in life.”

Who is Writing the Life Poetic written for?

Practicing poets, aspiring poets, and teachers of writing in a variety of settings can use Writing the Life Poetic to write, read, and enjoy poems; it works equally well as a self-study companion or as a classroom guide. Both practical and inspirational, it will leave readers with a greater appreciation for the poetry they read and a greater sense of possibility for the poetry they write.

What sets Writing the Life Poetic apart from other poetry how-to books?

The craft of poetry has been well documented in a variety of books that offer a valuable service to serious writers striving to become competent poets. Now it’s time for a poetry book that does more than lecture from the front of the classroom. Writing the Life Poetic was written to be a contagiously fun adventure in writing. Through an entertaining mix of insights, exercises, expert guidance and encouragement, I hope to get readers excited about the possibilities of poetry––and engaged in a creative practice. Leonard Cohen says: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” My goal is that Writing the Life Poetic be the flame fueling the life well lived.

Is it true that your book and your baby were conceived and birthed at the same time? What did you learn from this process?

Yes, I often refer to my son Theo and Writing the Life Poetic as my multi-media twins! I found out I was pregnant with Theo about two months into the writing of the book and I was making final edits to the book in layout two weeks after he was born. It was fascinating to have two of the most potent creative processes I’ve ever experienced happening in tandem. What I learned is a great respect for the birthing journey; it is one that has completely rewritten me along the way.

I am writing a monthly column this year for The Writer Mama zine titled “The Articulate Conception” which chronicles my journey of becoming an author and a mom. Through the course of ten essays, I am exploring this double-whammy birth trajectory--from the twinkle in my eye to the bags under my eyes. The first column is available here:

What makes a poem a poem?

This is one of my favorite questions! I’ve answered it in my book, but it’s a question that I’m answering anew every day. And that’s what I love about poetry. It’s a realm where invention is not limited entirely by definition; there is room enough for the endless possibilities of the human. Every time we try to draw a line around what a poem is, something spills over into the next frame, shifting the point of view and demanding new names: olive, token, flax, daffodil. A poem is all of these, or none of them, depending on the quality of light and how the blade in the next room stirs the night.

What do you think people’s greatest misperceptions are about poetry?

I think the three greatest stereotypes about the writing of poetry are:
1. That one has to be a starving artist or deeply miserable to write great poetry.
2. That reading and writing poetry are available only to an elite inner circle that shares secret, insider knowledge about the making of poems.
3. That poetry does not fund prosperity.

I hope very much that Writing the Life Poetic helps offer alternatives to some of these attitudes and perceptions.

Let's conclude with one of your poems. Would that be OK?

Of course! Happy to!

Leaving Buckhorn Springs
By Sage Cohen

The farmland was an orchestra,
its ochres holding a baritone below
the soft bells of farmhouses,
altos of shadowed hills,
violins grieving the late
afternoon light. When I saw
the horses, glazed over with rain,
the battered old motorcycle parked
beside them, I pulled my car over
and silenced it on the gravel.
The rain and I were diamonds
displacing appetite with mystery.
As the horses turned toward me,
the centuries poured through
their powerful necks and my body
was the drum receiving the pulse
of history. The skin between me
and the world became the rhythm
of the rain keeping time with the sky
and into the music walked
the smallest of the horses. We stood
for many measures considering
each other, his eyes the quarter notes
of my heart’s staccato. This symphony
of privacy and silence: this wildness
that the fence between us could not divide.

About Sage Cohen
Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry (Writers Digest Books, 2009) and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. An award-winning poet, she writes four monthly columns about the craft and business of writing and serves as Poetry Editor for VoiceCatcher 4. Sage co-curates a monthly reading series at Barnes & Noble and teaches the online class Poetry for the People. To learn more, visit Drop by and join in the conversation about living and writing a poetic life at!