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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

Daisy Bassen

Optional reading, American History 201, the year 20— (assuming we don’t ruin it all)

I saw the fox digging her burrow,

Bringing her tail in with her, gorgeous,

All that fur I’ll never touch, a color

With no name, the way fire has no singular hue,

Or a nebula. She scrabbled at the leafmeal

And paused, alert for hawks perhaps, predators

I don’t register, warm in my house, with my thumbs

And my lacy motherboards. It was the week

Of the winter solstice, of the shortest day,

When we have the least opportunity to see light

Unless you consider candles, stocked against storms.

It was a week of vice and comeuppance,

Consequence, of reality. Truth disputed lies,

There, I said it. There was an ice-storm,

Making filigree of the trees, making bullets

Of water, there was impeachment. It means

To fetter, to ensnare; it means we were a little more free.

It means we could rest in our dens that dark night,

That curt day, we could draw our plumed tails

Around us to sleep. We didn’t know

What would happen next but we’d made a way

To edge out from safety, to face raptors, shotguns.

Rabies has a cure if you can get it soon enough,

Before you froth.

Get Out:
The Vote

You tell me you’re an alien

Because you think I’m a robot;

Two unnatural creatures, others

By all dimensions—constructed,

Impossible, unfamiliar with the way

A newborn lays her head against

Her mother’s shoulder, confident

It will be there, looking at the light

Coming in the window without permission.

We are both forty, the number of years

Of exile, of manna instead of dates

And saffron, of ordinary wandering

And being expected to have answers.


I have answers and I know some are right—

I know you may not believe me without my hand

To hold, without the sound of my voice, coughing

With winter’s first cold. What if you felt welcomed,

What if I could reach through the screen?


You didn’t

Have to tell me the truth but you did. You’re not hopeless,

Neither must I be. The sky over the desert is blue, light

And then dark, the baby’s eyes are blue, dark and then light.

She doesn’t stop making noise, even when she is suckled.


Daisy Bassen is a poet and practicing physician who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, The Sow’s Ear, and [PANK] as well as multiple other journals. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.

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