Ode to an Oak

The Oak

Image: © Eloïse Wenger

Author: Eloïse Wenger

When the shadows of Evening will descend
The Sky and its colours will fade and turn
Revealing a painting of a new blend
In which the pink and red will start to burn.

Then I will leave my house and close my door.
Passing the gate and the luminous church
I will go to the Forest and explore
the woods of fir, maple, willow and birch.

I will see you waving your leaves at me,
Your trunk rending the Sky and newborn Stars.
“Hello my dearest friend.. Mon cher ami!”
For your vision makes me forget my scars.

You must have been the witness of so much:
The seasons passing, your branches growing
All your memories flow in me at your touch
And your embrace makes me think I am flying

Then I follow the path until I see
The Woods glooming at the top of the Hill,
Lythe Lane stopping in sight of the first tree,
A place where all the people remain still.

There I sit on the Bench[1]. It is written:
“Lest we forget.” Words of a mum. Jenny..
Your son is gone with the flags of Britain.
Where is he now? Here? Or in that country?

There must be the very same Bench out there,
With the words of another mum on it.
The language is difficult to compare,
Not the Loss that they will never admit.

Watching humans condemned to endless grief
I feel my hopes are coming to an end
And at the sight of a first falling leaf
The fear of losing you my dearest friend..

[1] This Bench up Lythe Lane is dedicated to the memory of Richard, the son of Jenny, one of my neighbours, who lost his life in 2010 during his service in the Marines in Afghanistan.

Late Night Wedding Menu Translating

Author: Regan Agrey

For the first time in MUSE, we are publishing a wedding menu! Regan’s message will explain its… creative translations. We had a good laugh reading it and we hope you will too! You will find the French original right below the menu in English.

Regan’s message:
“I don’t know if you’ve ever planned a wedding but if you have then you know that there are a billion different details that you have to think of to make sure everything is ready. Menu translating was at the bottom of my list and I begrudgingly did it last minute, way too late at night, half asleep on my bed with my wife-to-be. Our guests got a kick out of it so I thought that I’d share it with [MUSE].”



Some kind of Gruyère cheese with some carrots, celery and leek Eggplant saucy thing and some crunchy parmesan love
Vegetable in a soupy Gaspacho
Salad with a bunch of fancy words…basically some sauce and pecans with an eatable flower


Rollin’ pasta with ricotta, Popeye’s spinach and the creamiest of cheese
Hearty pasta drowning in safran
Shots of guacamole for everyone, bruschetta, and a buffalo mozzarella ball
Spoon full of balsamic vinaigrette bubbles (quite nice actually!)
The cherriest of tomatoes with the greenest of olives
Chiacchiere “La vita e bella con Rak & Reg”


Raspberry sorbet
(with the choice of wildness in the air… alcohol)


Mapley, cinnamony and gingery on top of some beef Seasoned juice…?
Grilled almonds hanging out with some apricot
Potato bake with some kind of french cheese : The reblochon
The whitest asparagus you know vs the greenest and meanest asparagus with special guests carrot and green bean


Or replace your meat with
PETA certified, 100% meatless lasagna
(no animals were harmed in the making of this lasagna)


Some fluffed mango and passion fruit relaxing on some coconut
Mom’s crunchiest dark chocolate
Wild berries invaded by Crème brûlée, vanilla style


Creamy chicken pasta


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!


French original:



Terrine de gruyère en mille feuilles aux carottes, céleri et poireaux
Caviar d’aubergine et tuiles de parmesan
Gaspacho aux petits légumes
Salade de jeunes pousses, huile de noisette et vinaigre de xérès
Noix de pécan et orchidée karma


Roulé de pâte à la ricotta et épinard, crème de fromage
Coeur de pâte crème de safran
Verrine de guacamole, tartare de tomate, boule de mozzarella buffala
Cuillère de caviar de vinaigre balsamique
Tomates grappes et olives vertes
Chiachéré “La vita e bella con Rak & Reg”

Sorbet arrosé
(Framboise / Alcool de framboises sauvages)


Noix de veau de lait au sirop d’érable, cannelle et gingembre
Jus aux épices
Abricot moelleux et amandes grillées
Gratin de pomme de terre au reblochon
Asperge blanche vs asperge verte, accompagnées de carotte fane et de haricots verts


Ou remplace ta viande avec
Lasagne aux bons légumes
(aucun animal n’a été blessé pour faire cette lasagne)


Mousse à la mangue sur un lit de noix de coco et fruits de la passion
Croquant au chocolat noir
Mousse fruits rouges incrusté de crème brûlée à la vanille


Emincé de volaille à la crème, coquillettes au beurre



Poems by Alex Pérez

abstract dark photo

Image: © Alex Pérez

Author: Alex Pérez

song of adelphity

content warnings: self-harm, description of physical pain

it seems to be highly recommended
to have your heart broken
your head broken
maybe your arm even
I’ve tried
but never found a way to be at ease
with the concept of self harm
cells do it enough by themselves

have you ever had a headache
a deep profound stomach ache
your period riping off your womb
the teeth coming out
even though you’ve turned 18 a while ago
your bones
your flesh
driving you mad
have you ever felt the pressure
so hard on your weak back
that you felt it was needed to remove all of your fur with the help of cold bands of cheap wax
taking a bit of skin with it
that’s how it goes
have you never had a moment of mourning
thinking back years from now
remembering something gone that left a hole that you thought would never be healed
have you never had someone hurting you more than you ever imagined you could hurt yourself

everything is left behind
everything is said alright
and if you’re not strong enough for us all
still I will ask you
to listen
to go to the core, to the root and think twice
the how and why
if you have yourself
I will have your back


the body shape

the body shape
i imagine
i embody the un-other
how far from the sheet
i go under way too softly
i knot my arms
feel the fingers on my back
this may work
i forget whose touch it was
what if
i can reproduce
the softness of uncertainty
the shake
the breath
fall asleep in silence
half awake
i lay still


there was a window

content warning: description of physical pain

I need to work on my saying skills
to try is not to be nor having any kind of interest towards you or you or you
I do not want to resist
I do not want to get stuck again
a year from now
will the stomach ache be gone
constantly trying to achieve the insatiable fantasy of existing
not even close
I never get the tone right
going out and running till stomach gets ripped out
feet on the ground
my back aches since I can’t move


somewhere behind your eyes

I would like to write a poem about you
maybe even
about you
if you don’t mind me doing so
I wonder if you hated that I ordered decaf
I couldn’t drink it until it was cold
and I wonder
why I care
when we were drinking coffee I stopped thinking about
the taxes I have to pay
not that it was on my mind before that
but still
I do not know why I see the things you can’t see
you said
you can’t see them in your head
only somewhere behind your eyes
this is not a love poem but
I want to remember how you said it was awkward
how you asked if I had been anxious
and the relief to be able to say
of course
sure I was
it was not because of you
you didn’t ask
I saw the image in my head
so I wouldn’t fear anymore
but you couldn’t
I’ve said why already
before you asked you always said
like a song
can I ask ?
like a poem
I’m sorry I haven’t done the work in other languages yet
do you mind
if I take my time ?
we could keep asking questions and answering with blunt emotion
and make them all think it’s pure theory

Anonymous Poems (Third-place winner of the poetry competition)

a red crabapple hanging on a branch

Image: ‘perfectly sugared and glazed crabapple’ © paul+photos=moody. Source

Author: Anonymous

India pale ale

Third-place winner of the poetry competition

Were hectic bitter undertones of a first swig
steadying for the exclamation that our four
feet would trip through an all-nighter and
your former swarm?
Foam swirled into complete ego burial or

the censure of any comparisons stuck on
under chins like unsolicited spittle. One
spewed as fruit flies drowned in drink rings,
plucked, sponged, wiped
away by bartenders with the promise of a

blithe night, so to relinquish limerence was the
embrace of scarce sweet nothings as I secured
hair you once adulated from streams of bile and
the sticky grips of duplicitous people. Outside,

our collective reeling did not wane with the ease
of moons, yet we were tethered to your unrestrained
insistence it would pass. Just as one announces that
all the pigeons are vanishing from town tomorrow.


To come to a crabapple’s aid

Tannic throughout, the orchard’s
horse marine, a tart fruit scattered
across threadbare canvases of

eroded soil can be saved from
composting neglect in the shrubbery’s
shade. Chopped, it froths and slushes

above warm pans, strained for juice
then boiled into jelly. Perhaps that
seemingly unpalatable character

waits upon a baker’s time with the
heat of stovetop endeavors, before
revealing their sweet ambrosia.

The Rich Man with the Sunglasses

pair of sunglasses resting on their case

Image:American Optical Original Pilot Aviator sunglasses‘ © GuySie. Source CC Licence.

Author: Leah Didisheim

This evening, way across the east side in New York, this man was crossing the road. He had a briefcase in one hand and the other hand in his pocket. He wore a long coat and a suit under it, a cashmere suit, with a perfectly adapted hat. He probably bought them together so they could match. He wore black waxed shoes and a scarf nicely put around his neck.

But most strangely, he wore sunglasses. Sunglasses is not a strange thing to wear, I agree. But the thing is that it was winter. A cold evening in winter. Who would wear sunglasses except if they were drunk or if they had something to hide?… I’m pretty sure this man was not drunk. He was not the type of man to be drunk. He was really elegant and we could see with his clothes that he came from the high society. So, what did he have to hide, I ask you?

I had met him two days ago. It was in a meeting. He wanted to buy the business which I worked in. He came and behaved as if he owned the place, except, well, he did not. It pissed me off to be honest. But that’s the thing with rich people. They think that because they have money, therefore own a lot of things, they own everything else too. They think they are better than everybody else. Well, I say let’s put an end to that.

So here I am today, I’ve been following him for the last 5 hours; he cannot be perfect. There must be something going on with him. Nobody, in his rank, has no secret. And the sunglasses are my first lead of the day.

He opens the door of this hotel, the Colomara, and checks if anybody saw him. He cannot see me from where I stand. I wait five seconds. 1…2…3…4…5… I’m going in. The elevator at the far-right corner closes. I can just have a glimpse at a scarf and a hat. I hurry along the stairs. I can’t know which floor he’s headed to… so I must be quicker and see which floor the elevator opens at.

I’m not used to running like this. I’m at the fifth floor and I hear the sound of the elevator opening. I hurry behind the first wall I find and I wait to hear some footsteps. I don’t understand… nothing happens. And then suddenly I hear a voice.

“Well, well, well, are you done following me now? I have other things to do than to prove you right. I have a wife whom I love very much and three wonderful children. And I cannot help but think that because I have more money than you do, and obviously less time to lose than you do, that you have prejudices against me. Well, let me tell you something, yes, I love being rich but that doesn’t mean you can judge me because you don’t like being poor. And, of course, as nice as I am, even with what you did, as you didn’t deny it, I’m gonna offer you the same deal as I did two days ago: buy your company, and I swear you’ll be able to judge yourself with the amount of money you’re going to make.”

I couldn’t say a single word. I stared at him. My mouth opened. I guess he took that as a yes, nodded, gave me a contract which I quickly signed, and left.

Well, I cannot speak about every rich man in New York, but this one definitely is a very mysterious man!

I was still on the fifth floor when I heard a gunshot on the main floor. Screams followed not long after the first noise. When I managed to bring myself downstairs, nobody was left in the building. When I looked back, before going outside where the street was busier with every more minute I waited, my blood froze: I noticed black sunglasses left behind on the ground.

Where am I?


Image: “Clown Portrait 1″ © Edgar Cook. SourceCC License.

Author: Leah Didisheim.

Where am I? It’s the same street. I used the same path. And here I am, walking along the trees of this street that I see every day. The street where I have all my memories. Where I learned how to walk. Where I had my first kiss. Along this street, where I live, where I’ve always lived and probably where I’ll finish my life. In this house, my home. Where I have learned what’s good and what’s bad. Where my family lived and where, one day, I’ll probably live with a family of my own.

And yet… And yet, I can’t recognise a single thing. I know it is this street. I am so sure that I would yell it to anybody who would not believe me, to anybody who would think I’m crazy. And yet… and yet I do not know which house is mine. Everything looks the same, but everything is so different. I stop where I always stop. I take my keys out of my pocket like I always do. I unlock the door. And I go home. In this house which I know is mine, and yet looks so not like me.

The painting I bought two years ago is still here, right in front of the door. I thought it was so welcoming for people who came to my place, to see a colourful portrait of a smiling fairy, which is supposed to say: “Please, make yourself at home”. My friends always complimented me on it. And yet, today I can barely look at it without being deeply afraid. Again, it’s the same painting, I know it. I bought it. And yet, it is so different. I take my shoes off. I put my black coat in my wardrobe. I do what I do every night when I get back from work. And yet, even what I do doesn’t seem right. There is a weird atmosphere, which seems to spread. I begin to feel sick.

That’s when I hear it. This laugh. This scary laugh that wakes you up sweaty in the middle of the night, after you’ve just had the type of nightmares where somebody kills you before you wake up. I feel dizzy. It feels like I just got inside the house of the devil. And then nothing. No more sound. I don’t move. I can’t move. Standing there like a stupid paranoiac woman, for what seems like hours, though it might have been a minute. Usually Time is a bad friend. You never know if he’s with or against you.

I decide to move. Gently. And I feel something moving behind me. Again, with this evil laugh. I turn quickly and I just get the time to see a shadow vanish. I don’t know why but it seems familiar. It reminds me of my 10th birthday. My mum had asked a clown to come to make his show in front of me and my friends. It was great. I laughed so much that day. The clown laughed too. It was the kind of clown who has a big red nose and a big red mouth: his face makes you happy. Today the laugh was probably the opposite of “making me happy”. I would rather cry than laugh. The shadow I saw made me think of a clown, but the kind of clown you see in horror films, not at a ten-year-old girl’s birthday. That’s why I remembered my birthday so many years ago.

That’s exactly it. My painting, my house, even my street turned itself into a horror scene where I was the victim: the person who can’t control their faith and is just left screaming; the only thing they can still control… So, I quickly elaborate a plan: I will play the crazy lady. I might scare the clown away. I go to my bedroom. I take some make up out of the bathroom. I generously put some black mascara everywhere on my face. I change clothes: I want some holes on a T-Shirt: something not clean. I can’t find anything like that. So, I use the first T-Shirt which came in my hands. I remember this T-Shirt. I had got it at a concert three years ago. I had gone there with my best friend to see our favourite group, Imagine Dragons. And as usual I had bought a souvenir. A souvenir that I am ruining with a pair of scissors and some red and black painting that I have on my desk. I dress myself. I look more depressed than scary. But I guess that will do.

I go back downstairs. I hear a sound in my living room. With my scissors, I walk silently to the door. It is dark. So, I don’t pay attention. And I fall on my shoes that I hadn’t moved. Fortunately for me, I don’t hurt myself. But it was very loud; let’s forget the element of surprise. It was probably too late for that anyway. One more step. This scary laugh again. It seems to be behind me. So, I turn quickly. Nothing. Just the sound. I can hear it everywhere around me. It turns again and again. Now, I’m scared for real.

I breathe. Funny how we intend to forget to breathe sometimes. I remember what my grandfather told me once: “Take your time to intimidate them.” So, I breathe. Very slowly. I close my eyes and I feel ready. I begin to walk again. One step. Two. The living room has never seemed so far away before. It feels like I’m walking for hours. The Time again. Playing with us. I finally reach the door. I open it. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” And there they were. All my friends waiting for me:

“Are you alright? It seems like you’ve just seen a ghost. And how are you dressed up? Is that why you took so much time?”

But was the laugh really theirs? I do not know…

Poems by Céline Naito


Image: © Céline Naito.

Author: Céline Naito.

Giant Empty
John Jasperse Company, Wexner Center for the Arts, Nov. 2001

The last lights of the day,
A city.
Any urban decay
Looks empty.

Like stones in a Zen garden,
Buildings aligned
Are forgotten.

Giants are all around,
Dancing their non-feelings.
Life is a wound,
Movements are burning.

The remnants of an ancient time,
Are dressed in deformity.
Nakedness is no crime,
In a quiet fury.

In every urban area,
Giants too have insomnia.



corona feast

Image: © Céline Naito.

Author: Céline Naito.

Corona Feast
Delightful things today.

A myriad of birds chirping at the sky, fully theirs.
Dormant cars left unheard, even here in the forest.

The hooves of a deer and then, a rustle of leaves
A shadow at first and then, it all became clear,

It stopped, just to make sure it was you
Then fled
The glimmering light and the leafless trees,
Back to the stag in your mind.

Bees humming,

Which turned out to be ants,
So many red and black ants,
Going about their things
Among the crispy leaves.

A trail of criss-crossing echoes surrounds them.

Leaves pushing their own green birth,
While the painter’s forsythia
Proudly produces its yellow.

And the poor bug that fell on my laptop
On the table this evening

Its wings burned for wanting too much.

The Willow Tree

a swing covered with snow

 Image: © Author’s image

Author: Anonymous

I wandered peacefully through the park. It was a pleasant day. The weather was perfect to contemplate the sweet limerence of lovers. I let my soul float in this magnificent field, in which the buds of love planted sparingly by passing lovers blossomed. Sometimes I would stop on one of its little buds; hesitant, they seemed afraid to let themselves grow up in the violent whirlwind that nature is. I approached a small red flower starting to peep out of the grass. It seemed confident, ready to face happiness and meanders. Every day I came to meet it and was filled with joy at the sight of the sumptuous poppy that the seed had become. Nevertheless, the next day, I never found it again. It had disappeared, carried away by the wind.

My gaze then settled on a frail root, fixed in the slit of a low wall. Its beauty was not equal to that of the poppy, yet its seed was amply filled with tenderness. The months passed and the small root was now an aromatic bush whose smell invaded my nostrils. I began to regain hope when one fine day in November, my bush had completely dried out, deprived of water and sunshine. True love does not exist, I thought to myself. Look at all these seeds full of good intentions and whose initial dose of love has evaporated over time. I then sat on a bench, tarnished by life, and contemplated, eyes in the void, the landscape surrounding me. Then a lady came to sit beside me.

“What’s going on, little one?”,  she said in a serene voice.

“I don’t understand. The relationships so promising that I see around me, all end up fading away. I may have repeated and analyzed in detail when things started to go wrong, but I can’t find anything.”, I replied devastated.

“Did you observe the old willow tree by the lake? It is the very essence of unconditional love.”, explained the old lady.

“What do you mean? It does not glow. It lost all its leaves. Its trunk is dull and flayed.”,  I wondered.

“One day you will meet the person with whom you will plant a seed that will become a tree as strong and majestic as this weeping willow.”, she continued.

It is only later that I grasp what the wise woman said. Love, feeling, emotion, the omnipresent sensation of love goes beyond what we are taught in storybooks or in society. It does not arrive on its white horse as if by magic. Do not expect it to be there to heal all your pains. Love is a process. Love is an art whose principles can only be mastered by a few. It is a balance, a sharing, a union, but it is above all the importance of freedom. Freedom of oneself and freedom of the other. Love grows when its protagonist acquires the knowledge of respect, listening and patience. The love duet can be in harmony as long as each one plays their own partition and does not interfere with the other’s. Love between two people is like the roots of the willow that unite to build a trunk, branches and leaves. It goes without saying that a root has no difficulty in blossoming on its own. It receives its own water and light. Unfortunately, very often the root is afraid of its individuality and thinks it needs the other to be fulfilled. It is only when it has become aware of its inner strength and knows its richness, that it can unite with the other and accomplish wonderful things. Love begins with self-love. Love is about letting the other grow up alone, to come back together even stronger.