Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Marianne Murphy Zarzana: "The News in Southwest Minnesota"

A Buddhist monk, exiled from Thailand, broadsided the car  
of a local woman, age 20. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
He survives with serious injuries. — Marshall Independent, Summer 2000

Days after I’ve read the front page, my mind returns to the scene
of the accident. A familiar crossroads framed by early summer cornfields.

Late afternoon, the sun hovering high, so close to summer solstice.
Didn’t the monk see the oversize red stop sign, hear and feel
the vibration of tires passing over rumble strips etched into the road?

But no trace of skid marks. No time for either driver to brake before impact.
Some accidents are like that. Blind siding us no matter how familiar the route,
how aware, awake we are, or how faithfully we’ve sat in daily meditation.

And haven’t I have been all of these?
The victim, following the rules of the road, still unsafe, vulnerable.
The intersection, unconsciously aiding and abetting fatal collisions.
And the monk, missing signs, warnings, speeding on to that place
where I do harm accidentally.

"The News in Southwest Minnesota" by Marianne Murphy Zarzana, from Farming Words: A Harvest of Literature at a Prairie College. Edited by Bill Holm and David Pichaske. © Southwest Minnesota State University, 2007. Presented here by poet submission.

Art credit: "Closeup of Rusty Old Stop Sign," photograph by © Ron Chapple (originally color).


  1. The page is very artistically done but I would have liked to be able to read the text. These 83 year old eyes just found it too difficult.

    1. Don: Some browsers (I'm told) filter out the brown background on which the white text is presented. This makes it appear like the white text is being presented against a tan background, which isn't the design. That would be SO hard to read! I'm sorry that this happens but unfortunately I can't do anything to fix it, short of redesigning the entire website and hoping that everybody's browsers will render it the same way.

      If you're interested in the poetry, I'd encourage you to consider subscribing to receive it by email. It's free, and you'll see both the text and the artwork without any difficulty. If you want to do that, just follow the instructions at the top right of the page, where it says "follow by email".

      Again, my apologies that this isn't easier for you to read.

      Deep peace,
      Phyllis Cole-Dai
      Curator, YOBH

  2. For your consideration

    "One step at a time" by Kuryu Nokanome (a pseudonym)
    There is a translucent
    Peace of the mindless
    Monotony of making
    Like the repeated bending
    Of grass as the day's
    wind dances
    to fool flesh
    with the illusion of
    native tropical warmth.

  3. I work in transportation so this is incredibly powerful for me to read. There's a reason we no longer use "accident"--we use "crash". Mindfulness is the best driving technique available when operating a 2-ton steel box capable of crushing a human body, making this true story especially heartbreaking.


Thank you for participating respectfully in this blog's community of readers.