How many cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon did she sling onto the counter? Here we have odes to repetition, the heart, invi Nice to meet you, Ellen. I just thought during that whole period how fortunate I was to be a poet. Along with her twin sister who everyone said was the beautiful one and her oldest friend who shtupped Marlon Brando in a car outside the Actors Studio.
Shards of the shattered vase will rise and reassemble on the table. I felt very frustrated because I had written quite a lot when I was young, but I was intensely aware of the problems in my early poems. I gather up a cantaloupe, a lime, a cherry, and start revolving this salad around the chicken carcass.
I think that if a poem is difficult and requires a lot of work, the way to judge that is: When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this?
Eat from my hand. How did you finally get back to it? One night we sat in the lobby of the only hotel, watching cartoons in Italian. I was breathing from some bright reserve.
And the fascia unfurling like a transparent fan. O splaying legs once faster than rabbits, canines slashing flesh. When You Return Fallen leaves will climb back into trees.
Wrapping my palms around their white wings, lowering them into the tapered urn. Diamonds will be returned to coal, coal to rotting ferns, rain to clouds, light to stars sucked back and back into one timeless point, the way it was before the world was born, that fresh, that whole, nothing broken, nothing torn apart.
Rock will go home to mountain, gold to vein. Hunger, thirst, the need to pee all disappear. I loved the truth. I wound up learning a lot about what was helpful in the healing process for survivors, and that led me to write, with my coauthor Laura Davis, the book The Courage to Heal, which became a very foundational book for survivors.
My gray hair will darken and become the feathers of a black swan. I had this unusual combination of skills and was trained in how to make a safe and supportive space for people to share their stories. I found that working with the poems was more natural to me than any other outward rituals or ceremonies around her death.
But this morning I think of a scene I never witnessed, though she told me the story years later. Bass stopped writing poetry in her thirties to concentrate on working with survivors of child sexual abuse and writing books on the topic.
The fire return to the log, the log to the tree, the white root curled up in the unsplit seed. I tried to write a novel for a few years, and that was not a great success!
For me, Mules of Love feels like my first book. I tell another story. But it satisfied for me the need to write about writing. All eighty-eight Cornish hens huddled in their crates.
Night moths tucked close into cocoons, ink drained from the indigo tattoo. At the end, we scoured the tables, hosed the dried blood, the stain blossoming through the water.Poetry is the most intimate of all writing. I want to speak from me to myself and then from me to you.” Bass’s collections of poetry include Mules of Love (), which won the Lambda Literary Award; The Human Line (), named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle; and Like a Beggar ().
Her poetry frequently appears in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, three. The following is a poem from The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, ) by Ellen Bass.
Poem Not for My Son There are things you can't tell a child—they'd sit too heavily upon him, like the crowns of young royalty: Tutankhamen holding up that twelve-pound crust of gold and emeralds on his slender neck.
Ellen Bass: Very often a poem comes from something that I’m trying to work out in my own life. Often I’ll write the same poem many times if there's an idea I’m grappling with.
I’ll write it over and over in poems that don’t ultimately succeed until finally I have some entry into the poem. "Sad Bitch" is an example of that.
Ellen Bass has a new book of poetry, Like a Beggar, forthcoming in February, from Copper Canyon billsimas.com previous books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press), named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle and Mules of Love (BOA Editions) which won the Lambda Literary Award.
She co-edited (with Florence Howe). "Ellen Bass is such a trustworthy guide. These are poems of quiet joy and true comfort. I read the book to the end, and then started from the beginning, again." — Marie Howe on The Human Line "Ellen Bass writes of ordinary life with a fierce and loving passion.Download