Patricia Hartnett


Plea for another violent embrace

catch up my arm, I catch up yours — I pull you to me like a giantess.

Everyone is wealthy now.

Out along the various roads, empty and pitted with shell pocks,

craters and not a whisper of remorse: regret.

Maligned and suppressed like bad fashion, old bell bottoms,

embarrassing former lovers. She then stalks out: old gray care, reticent,

the shuffle of conscience sporting a new accent,

inside human whispers blown to dust.

She says: It is on your head,

it is in your hands, and, by the way, no one is a spectator.


Playful and even invitational: the dice.

There was an old woman’s admonish: put yourself in harm’s way.

An imperative, referring to reticence, chiding a reluctant girl.

She was staving off spinsterhood: harm and charm and hazard

sounded down the body like an alarm but then looked like brilliant kites.

Kicking and curtsying above a beach in summer.

Each and every day begins with: stranded in deserts, lost in woods, stalled at sea.

Some say this is a chart/map/plan: exigency.

There are no mistakes, maybe failures of will or crises of confidence

or worst of all: lack of preparation.

So cheer the rhythm, the clock — the heart, and don’t count on the weather.


I see that cone barrel blistering the building

scouring searchlight on the standard, furling and flapping

a long taffeta reminder eerily enduring.

And now issuing from the seer, the Rsi, looking cool, hip, bogus.

The malevolent substitute for justice when it’s too late.

What happened to the nervous boy anxious to please —

excellent scholar, music mad.

His residue in gold dust; it’s him I want to read.

Not the stymied set of rules begun in vengeance.

Sneers as critique forced down swan throats.

Invite me to the twinness and difference

and the pulsing “nothing else like it” in between.


Sack of blown parts, beginning and insurgent, anarchists so close to good.

So close to antichrist it’s no wonder you are misunderstood — so where is the crime.

Well, here is another morning under the newly revealed metal fist of the grin.

So utterly blue out there, so utterly clear up there, so pleasant here in California.

Strategies proliferate, a wilderness of animal tackle and dog runs,

sixteen to some power of plans.

A burning woman talks to herself of dilemma: stranded out here in America

with everyone else equal parts greed and fable.

Desire blew out to possession, to the thing and finally only to the means to the thing.

Reified and just what the malevolent germ planned at the start.

Fortunately, not having taken into account the unruly, lacking a plan

for that constituency, underestimating the underestimated

we find the odds are with the illegitimate.

Patricia Hartnett completed an MFA at San Francisco State University. Her poems have appeared in VOLT, The Journal, and American Poet, among other journals. A manuscript, Geis, was a semifinalist for the Sawtooth prize. Originally from Ireland, an area of particular study and interest for her is Contemporary Irish Writing, especially Irish women poets. She taught writing at Dominican University and at City College of San Francisco. She lives in Sonoma County, California.
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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.

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