Poetry by Daisy Bassen

January 23, 2019
Art by Kirsten Hemrich

New Types of Irreducibility Criteria

Grace Hopper, 1906-1992

Seven clocks,


            One for every day in creation,

            Not so many if only mother

            Would consider the confusion

            Of jaws in the belly, milk-teeth

            In the roomy heart. Oil mottling

            Tinny sweetbreads.


Time flies,

They said. Those liars. It was preferable

To decide that than contend with dullness,

            Satisfaction with a stone sundial.

            Time was packed in around them, shaped,

            Damp earth pressed close to a cutting’s roots,

            Keeping them.


                                                I hope you’ve learned

            Your lesson, mother said, offering

            The last clock. It had a face like a stranger,

Independent, someone she mustn’t talk to.

Someone who’d have to learn English

On his own.


I accept this the way I accept sugar is sweet

I have two lives,

One I’ve lived,

One I’ve escaped.

I’m grateful you didn’t rape me,

All you boys and men I’ve known.

I’ve thought of writing you letters,

Thank you for what you didn’t do,

Thank you for not breaking me

When you had the chance.

I knew you might, you could.

How can I regret not going to Prague,

Some beautiful city far away, with old bells tolling,

How can I regret not studying oils, Japanese,

Not meeting his gaze?

I have lived a life without the particular horror of force.

I haven’t had to scream as I practiced,

To blind a man with my ignition

Key. I’m so very grateful,

And I loathe my gratitude,

And that you have never thought this,

While you drive to work, fall asleep at night.

You’ve never forgotten it.

I’ve never forgotten it.

By Daisy Bassen 

Daisy Bassen is a practicing physician and poet. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program. She completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, The Delmarva Review, The Sow’s Ear, and Tuck Magazine as well as multiple other journals. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, a finalist in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Prize, a recent winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest and is doubly nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.


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