Aileen Bassis



A Girl Who Was Born Without a Mother

Title of a painting by Francis Picabia


She could be progeny from another
               universe where metal coalesced
                              with blood and salt—she emerges
with a scattering of nails and rust,
               chewing gum and baby hair.
                              She’s a riddle, a koan, one hand
waving hello and the other
               hand drumming fingertips on a table top,
                              flipping cards, red on black
and black over red. She spins in place
               for Dada, her twentieth century fathers:
                              Francis, Tristan, Marcel,
ragpickers in the war-torn afterbirth,
               chanting “Everything is art” for art is nothing:
                              stacked urinals and broken chairs,
alarm clocks and comic strips.
               All the while, this muse, motherless
                              houri, Dada’s amuse-bouche in shades
of dun, descends the stairs, nodding yes
               but mouthing no—no, no,
I have another hand to play.


Aileen Bassis is a visual artist in Jersey City working in book arts, printmaking, photography and installation. Her artwork can be viewed at Her use of text in art led her to explore another creative life as a poet. She was awarded an artist residency in poetry to the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Her poems have appeared in B o d y Literature, Spillway, Grey Sparrow Journal, Canary, Amoskeag, Stone Canoe, The Pinch Journal and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.

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