New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

5 poems by L. Shapley Bassen

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Shapley Bassen’s “Portrait of a Giant Squid” was the First Place winner in the 2015 Austin ChronicleShort Story Contest. Her “What Can the Matter Be?” was the title/featured story in the special KRO Poetics of Science issue, http://www.kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2016-fall/selections/l-shapley-bassen-342846/. She is Fiction Editor for http://www. prickof thespindle.com/ and the author of the novel Summer of the Long Knives (Typhoon Media) and Lives of Crime & Other Stories (Texture Press) and 2017 publication of a new novella/story collection, Showfolk & Stories [Inkception Books]. She was a finalist for the 2011 Flannery O’Connor Award, was a 1st reader for Electric Literature, won the 2009 APP Drama Prize and a Mary Roberts Rinehart Fellowship, and is poetry/fiction reviewer for Brooklyner, The Rumpus, and others. Visit her online at http://www.lsbassen.com/


Unhappy Alice

Opening the hours one by one,

gifts you cannot return

though they are ugly

and do not fit.

This ingratitude

is the other side of the mirror.

Just get through the day

and looking glass.

Someone may be smiling

somewhere, somewhen, again.




Now once again the trees are stripped

of autumn’s leaves and all the other

autumns’ before forgotten as well.

In winter, spring is beyond imagination

and summer beyond hope. But not only

solstice assures the return of the sun.

Bare branches uncover naked tree trunks

ugly only in contrast, beautiful in truth.

With what relief the patient feels the loss

of hair and other amputations. The past

at long last gone, the present free to becoming.

Weighing less and knowing more,

most of all the explosion of the nonessential.

We have the solar core, the white dwarf.



Ketchup’s Find

 A cat named Ketchup chose their home;

his owners dubbed it Ketchup’s Find.

Buoys of lobster traps bob the surface

beyond the shore this morning. July ends.

Where does the universe begin and end?

Where is its center? Wherever the cat

paces on fog feet, says the physicist,

since everything began altogether

in the beginning, banged equidistant

ev’rywhere, here near the big turtle that

is Muffin Rock, Great Wass Island,

Town of Beals, across the bridge from Jonesport,

Washington County, Maine: plot Cartesian

coordinates as August begins, while

deep beneath, pairs of ragged claws

scuttle ‘cross the floor of Mistake Harbor,

and the unwitting lobsters crawl inside.


 The Persephone False Dichotomy

Saturn is the god of regeneration and a timeless era of plenty and bounty before time,

which he reinstates at the time of the yearly crisis of the winter solstice.


Life with Death half the year or return to Mother. Rings around Saturn

murmur warnings a four year old hears his ceiling mobile echo. How

can he fall asleep now? Mars went missing from his set. Things fall

apart, yet the center holds. In time, Malcolm will learn: his calling

by great grandfather’s name; Macbeth’s succeeding Prince of Scotland;

Saturn returns the Sun at cold solstice; cow jumps over the Moon.

Mother and summer go together with his father and filling buckets

with clams at the Cape. His little sister Tillie sleeps in the room next

door, and she more likely will seek and see dichotomy is false. Rings

tell the story and the missing God of War (under his bed, certainly

in the house). Would that Mars were not ever present! It’s only persephone

at certain latitudes; at poles and equator, far more elliptical.




 Sip hot

or not.






I’m hoping.

The way

to say,

to show.

From sips

to lips

and know


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