V. Joshua Adams


They sent me to school in the great forest
planted by the timber company
where each morning the chaplain
would pray to the trees. There was a river somewhere
but I was afraid to go down to it
on account of the color of the water—
menacingly clear, as though all the silt
and leaves and branches and rocks
had no real contact with anything.
Things sat or floated on, that was it,
nothing mixed. I usually couldn’t find the river anyway
and was always getting lost in the woods
until the wardens came galloping on their Arabians
to bring me back for my punishment
of competitive knitting. I never won, or even made a hat
or scarf I would not be too embarrassed to wear,
and so when winter came
I was not only chastened but chilled.
That’s when you found me, staring at the stopped clock,
and showed me the way out: a ritual
where we locked the door, turned up the halogen lamps,
and stared at each other until we decided
which swimsuits most flattered our blanched bodies,
high-cut one pieces or string bikinis.
The parrot helped too, from his roost in the common room,
even if he only said things he had been trained to say:
What color. Be good. Wanna go. Wanna go.

Song, Chicago

Blood in the milk. Milk in the blood.

Stone my hair breath-sand,
heart-poison plum.

Up the creekbed, up the treebed,
guns, lots. Polished

brittleness was a face.
Thumbeye, thrust.

Sub-zero. Crows.

Blood in the milk. Milk in the blood.


Another Country (II)

In the elevator, in the Texas resto
on Queen St., they play all the hits
of Nineteen Ninety-Four.

Need: no art without passion. Need:
permanent revolt.

fastidious, self-doubt
can’t not, it’s in
it’s in the will.

Breakdance, blowtorch,
burning sensation.

Unhelmet the tone now.
Exchange is the mode,
our fold.

No outside, but we
can still be
as a rub and tug.

Clever chicken wrap,
that fantastic pink
came from the sink, love.

Revisionary Ratios

There’s a cost to this life, I’ll tally it up
said the scrap-meat, said the newsprint.

Carp come quick now, tricked now, pricked now.
Why should I pay for your bahn-dage, your mah-ssage?

Lace thigh-high and only so, oh Jesus-H, Viola,
you kid me with your pluck!

Flat lakes we go down in each night,
our lawns, sirs, shall outlive us.

My empire-builder chugs: pa-thump.
Those dying generations don’t die quick enough.

V. Joshua Adams is the author of a chapbook, Cold Affections (Plan B Press, 2018). Work of his has appeared or is forthcoming in Reed Magazine, Painted Bride Quarterly, Trampset, Mud Season Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. A former editor of Chicago Review, as well as a translator and critic, he teaches at the University of Louisville.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit (positjournal.com) 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.