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
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.
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?
Eric Tars On The Human Right To Housing
The Martin v. Boise decision stands for the very simple principle that punishing a homeless person for undertaking basic, life-sustaining activities like sleeping or sheltering themselves — when there’s no adequate alternative accessible to them — is cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
You’re not a racist; you’re my liberal friend, the one who applauds my Africanness. But one day, in your home, you asked me never to leave the window open lest some Black — you blinked, snipped off what you were about to say, and continued — lest some thief climb through it to steal something.
Most days, within a block of my house in San Francisco, I’ll encounter someone who is unhoused. Since 2011 I have befriended and photographed unhoused people, and the experience has changed me in a way I never would have imagined. . . . One man said to me, “Most people see us as drunks, but you talk to us and see our humanity.” This is what I hope my photographs convey.