April 12 – Ellen Austin-Li

Welcome to National Poetry Month and Gyroscope Review’s month-long celebration of poets – and their diverse Writing Assistants. Enjoy the audio/video works by previous Gyroscope Review poets and be sure to check out the Author and fun Writing Assistant Bio at the end of each NPM poet post. Don’t forget to tag the poet on Social Media and let them know you enjoyed their work!

Somewhere Beyond Our Solar System

Somewhere Beyond Our Solar System

the Voyager’s “Golden Record” floats. 
Has some advanced being listened 
to “The Murmurs of Earth?” Sagan’s choices:
a baby’s cry, the plaintive whale, the mariachi
band, Mozart, Bach, “Johnny B Goode.”
And Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night”
to represent human sadness. Can this be
fathomed? Will another civilization dismiss us
like we discount “lower orders” on Earth?
I stumbled upon some trucker’s account
of V-shaped lights hovering over the desert,
the fast lateral shifts and vanishing alien
movements, his stopped watch.
Most of us will brush him off
because he wears flannel instead of tweed.
Though he says no way he’s the sort 
of person to imagine this. “I know what I saw,” 
he said. This sighting made him an extraterrestrial 
believer. We possess no ability to assess consciousness 
outside of our own. Take the creatures on our planet. 
Our fifteen-year-old cichlid took a week to die, 
an orange body suspended sideways in the tank, 
the younger blue companion swimming 
sentry by the side. When it went nose-down,
I scooped it out & buried it in the garden bed. 
After the orange fish passed, the blue refused food
and, for a day, hid behind the fake seagrass. 
Listen: I know what I saw. 
-appeared in print in Volume 26 of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel: The Strange, Stranger, and Estranged Side of Appalachia, Fall 2023.



Ginkgoes in autumn surrender their golden fans
in one glorious downpour, but no one composes a poem 
about the reek of the female’s fruit once it hits the ground, 

a decay that stinks of vomit. Where is the beauty in the stench
of rotting fruit? I remember my mother once said
every decade brings a change in your body you learn

to accept. It’s a trade-off that she and I can now
agree upon. The more my beauty fades, the closer we become. 
And I can say it now: I was beautiful. Back then I knew 

not to embrace what I couldn’t be forgiven for — 
this shiny body passed down: I was an auburn-haired, 
blue-eyed Electra, a pink peony full-petaled and sweet.

My face, the coin that jingled in my pocket,
that glittered freedom from the good-girl prison, 
that I traded to buy tenderness from men I as soon ground 

beneath the heel of my shoe, is now like gold leaf worn off
a framed masterpiece. This portrait of myself as a siren, 
honey to a swarm of bees, now the icing licked clean off

a cupcake. When I was young, I took this horoscope
I read as gospel: You are attractive to the opposite
sex. I used this shell, as my mother suspected, as barter

for self. I am past dealing in perfume, in green.
I have no choice but to let go of what I cling to, 
these leaves that fall softly at my feet.

-appeared in Gyroscope Review’s  Fall Crone Power Issue, 2021.


Poet Ellen Austin-Li laments the loss of all her furry companions—and also the ones with scales, as her poem “Somewhere Beyond Our Solar System,” recounts. Her husband says if she gets another pet, he’s leaving. So, while she bides her time waiting for their next big fight, Ellen will take friend requests and followers here: https://twitter.com/EllenAustinLi  https://www.instagram.com/ellenaustinli/  https://www.facebook.com/ellen.austinli Or ring her doorbell here: https://ellenaustinli.me/ Her abiding sense of tragedy is her writing companion. She cannot include a photo of her writing helper as tragedy dictates.


Ellen Austin-Li’s poetry appears in Artemis, Thimble Literary, The Maine Review, Salamander, SWWIM, & many other places. Finishing Line Press published her chapbooks Firefly and Lockdown: Scenes from Early in the Pandemic. Ellen holds an MFA in Poetry from the Solstice Program. She lives in Cincinnati where she co-hosts “Poetry Night at Sitwell’s. You can find all her info here: https://ellenaustinli.me/

Don’t forget to read the Spring 2024 Issue of Gyroscope Review.

NPM 2024 Poets

April 1 – Cal Freeman

April 2 – Susanna Lang

April 3 – Marion Brown

April 4 – Melissa Huff

April 5 – Elaine Sorrentino

April 6 – Alison Stone

April 7 – Alexandra Fössinger

April 8 – Laurie Kuntz

April 9 – Dick Westheimer

April 10 – Wendy McVicker

April 11 – J.I. Kleinberg

April 12 – Ellen Austin-Li