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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Gillian Osborne

the poem the leaf knows

to begin in a knuckle
to be pushed
to begin as finger, elongating
into fingerless hand

to show one’s veins
as expertly as a face betrays
community, exclusion

to come up together, in the same scene
reassured by sameness
to be disdainful of the same

to strive to extend, bend, adapt
an expression in reaction to a scarce resource

to be bitten back
to harbor poison in response
to be made with fangs
evenly spaced at the perimeter

to not be touched by water
to give water away
to be backed in wax

to have eyes for a mouth
to inhale light
to point downward
to greet god with the turn
of one’s waxy back

to be pushed
to be the child, the language of bark

to fall, even when
the tree is evergreen
you are not
to be indelicately, dependably, replaced

of yellow

how i wish there were

a yellow curtain i could


fill in for you


thick linen, mustardy drape

rejection of the exterior


but there is only this smudge—


hello, sun






scrambled eggs are yellow

and marigolds, and gold


glisten glitter glimmer glint

cognate with division


a yellow onion isn’t really

and what color is a blond


a smiley face—






by the side of the road

mustard broadcast

by friars settling north


as in the garden closer

to home South African oxalis

housewives began in window pots

crowds ornamentals, all parts

even the tubers, edible


bitterness that blurs savoring

or bracing sour tang


cheery rash of color

California’s winter hills


filling history, noxious flavor


i put you in my mouth


Gillian Osborne is a writer and educator based in California, and the author of Green Green Green (Nightboat, 2021). Her poetry, essays, and criticism have appeared in such publications as The Boston Review, LARB Quarterly Journal, Harpers, and The New Republic. At Arizona State University, she is an associate researcher in the department of English, and designs courses for the Center for Public Humanities, and has held other teaching positions at the Harvard Extension School, Bard College, and for the Religious Studies Department at UCSB.

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