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About this poet

Ellen Bass is the author of Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She teaches at Pacific University and lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Eating the Bones

Ellen Bass

The women in my family
strip the succulent
flesh from broiled chicken,
scrape the drumstick clean;
bite off the cartilage chew the gristle, 
crush the porous swellings
at the ends of each slender baton.
With strong molars
they split the tibia, sucking out
the dense marrow. 
They use up love, they swallow 
every dark grain,
so at the end there's nothing left,
a scant pile of splinters
on the empty white plate.

From The Human Line by Ellen Bass. Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Bass. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

From The Human Line by Ellen Bass. Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Bass. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass is the author of Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She teaches at Pacific University and lives in Santa Cruz, California.

by this poet

poem

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts

poem

Finally, morning. This loneliness
feels more ordinary in the light, more like my face
in the mirror. My daughter in the ER again.
Something she ate? Some freshener

someone spritzed in the air?
They’re trying to kill me, she says,
as though it’s a joke. Lucretius
got

poem


Enough seen….Enough had....Enough…
                           —Arthur Rimbaud

No. It will never be enough. Never
enough wind clamoring in the trees,
sun and shadow handling each leaf, never enough clang
of my neighbor hammering,
the iron nails, relenting wood,