Patty Seyburn

The Important Parts

Head, shoulders, knees, toes

The first mention in The Milwaukee Journal, July 18, 1961: troubadour-teacher Janet Novotny, who played an accompanying accordion (making it hard to breathe from the diaphragm), traveled from playground to playground.

There is a tavern in the town.

Phrenology studies the relationships between a person’s character and the skull’s morphology. Austrian physicist Franz Joseph Gall (1758 – 1828) was the father of the science. Aristotle thought the brain a secondary organ.

When the cop pulled me over, I cried on the shoulder of the road.

There is a ——- in the town.

We do not kneel in daily prayer. “Nor shall you install a kneeling-stone in your land, to bow down upon it” (Leviticus 26:1). Visiting Jimmy in Joliet, I kneeled when I went to Easter-mass. I ate lamb-cake. His grandmother muttered something in Polish that earned her a shushing. It did not bother me.

The most generous conjunction: she’s in love with me, and I feel fine.

There is a ——- in the ——.

When you ride a longboard, and the tail is in the wave, you can walk, side-stepping, out to the front, and put your toes on the edge. Do it slowly, or you’ll end up in the soup. Watch for men in grey suits.

I could not see the board, was diagnosed by Dr. Magder (of blessed memory) in his office, just over the Canadian border in Windsor. We took the Ambassador Bridge and sometimes, the tunnel, which threatened endlessness, each time.

——- is a ——- in the ——-.

Tommy, can you hear me? Can you feel me near you?

When a man looks at your mouth, either lean in or back away from the bar.

——- — a ——- in the ——-.

My favorite perfume blogger trumpets a brand called Herr Von Eden in slate-grey flacons, and their three new scents: Euterpe, “the pleasure giver”; Eros, the god of love, and Eclipse: absence.

Hasbro made a game called “Go to the head of the class,” which has entered the rheumy realm of nostalgia.

——- — a ——- — the ——-.

My brother dislocated his shoulder playing basketball in high school, making the socket an unreliable home.

My daughter tore her Medial Collateral Ligament, a band of tissue on the inside of the knee, connecting the thigh-bone to the bone of the lower leg.

——- — – ——– — the ——.

We are, in tissue and bone, broken and flawed.

The debate rages: whether eyes are soul-portals, or, infinite in extremity, toes.

——- — – ——– — — ——-.

Aspirational Animal Spirit

I am a fan of the great families
particularly the swan, Anatidae

(sub-family, Cyninae).
The mating for life, overblown—

one will take up with another
if one dies or if a “nesting failure”

occurs. The black swan particularly
mean, your fingers are appetizers

and a Ph.D. in gliding. Middle name:
surreptitious-stealthy. The rara avis

even has a theory: something about
anomaly. It never picked up steam

and when we pleasure-boated past
in a Colorado pond, I straightened up,

elongating my neck, mimesis overload,
though there is a swan-neck deformity

of the finger I may soon suffer
that will cause me to beckon you


Patty Seyburn has published four books of poems: Perfecta (What Books Press, 2014), Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She won a Pushcart Prize for her poem, “The Case for Free Will,” published in Arroyo Literary Journal. She is a Professor at California State University, Long Beach. She grew up in Detroit.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.