Ellen Bass | The Sun Magazine

Ellen Bass


Ellen Bass lives in Santa Cruz, California, and is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent book of poetry is titled Indigo. The boy in her poem in this issue is now a father, so she has another precious creature to worry about in this endangered world.

— From February 2023
The Dog-Eared Page

Selected Poems (And A Conversation)

As part of our ongoing celebration of the magazine’s fiftieth year in print, we asked Ellen Bass and Danusha Laméris to choose a poem by the other for this month’s Dog-Eared Page. We start with a conversation in which they discuss their shared history and why they selected the poems that follow.

The Big Picture
Ellen Bass

I try to look at the big picture. / The sun, ardent tongue / licking us like a mother besotted / with her new cub, will wear itself out. / Everything is transitory.

The Cat
Danusha Laméris

After my brother died, his wife was sure he was living / inside their cat, Rocky. He’s in there, she’d say, staring into / those blank, yellow eyes. Isma’il? Isma’il? Can you hear me?

February 2023


When Lynne saw the lizard floating / in her mother-in-law’s swimming pool, / she jumped in.

June 2019

The Big Picture

I try to look at the big picture. / The sun, ardent tongue / licking us like a mother besotted /with her new cub, will wear itself out. / Everything is transitory.

April 2018

Ode To Fat

Tonight, as you undress, I watch your wondrous / flesh that’s swelled again, the way a river swells / when the ice relents. Sweet relief / just to regard the sheaves of your hips, / your boundless breasts and marshy belly.

January 2018

Getting Into Bed On A December Night

When I slip beneath the quilt and fold into / your warmth, I think we are like the pages / of a love letter

February 2017

Ode To Scotch And A Pretzel While Watching Movies With My Dog

Tonight it seems a flowering branch of the tree / of pleasure to sit on my green couch with a tumbler / of scotch and a salted pretzel while people / pretending to be other people wheel / through the toothy gears of their lives.

January 2016

Taking My Old Dog Out To Pee Before Bed

Dew is already deep in the overgrown grass, / the air damp with a salty tang. / Zeke’s hips are too ground down / to lift a leg, so he just stands there.

December 2015

Selected Poems

from “Ode To Invisibility” | O loveliness. O lucky beauty. / I wanted it and I couldn’t bear it.

January 2015

Waiting For Rain

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?

February 2014

At The Padre Hotel In Bakersfield, California

It’s Saturday night, and all the heterosexuals / in smart little dresses and sport coats / are streaming into what we didn’t know / was the hoppingest spot between Las Vegas and LA.

February 2013

Loving A Woman

I was nineteen and on LSD / the only time God spoke to me. / Or, if not God, a voice so clear / and clearly not my own

November 2011

Selected Poems

from “Carpe Diem in the Backyard” | Here we are, I say to my dog, / who inclines his boxy head / then lowers himself to the unmown grass, / pointed tawny leaves scattered in heaps.

October 2010
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