Barbara Tomash

Of Spirit

what if I told you a wheel without axel is not a machine what if I told you a glassy skyscraper is not a vagrant spirit though it sways like one only flagella dung beetles tumbleweeds go forth by rolling by toe and by hoof pilgrims progress in the midst of this too much scatter not even our jet propellers black boxes sacred scraps of skin and bone will be accurately dated I don’t know if we are carried in a hand basket pushed in a cart or rolled on round logs but isn’t this next place paradise nothing stirs the fossilized wheel ruts in remote roads nothing stirs the scumbled brown background submerged in dried leaves what if I told you there is a peg in my center secured to the ground and yet I am freely spinning

Of Drowning

keeping afloat my thoughts encoded as innumerable sounds song of bird or wind isn’t it easier to lay down light burdens than heavy ones to speak something to be written as handfuls of rain not drowning heart tinged with fragmentary refrains shuffle of footsteps on water the soft parts of my body a lacy blouse buoyed in darkness isn’t it better to err on the side of the invisible than the visible a fine film of capillaries gathered into veins leads back to my heart on the far shore the growling of other animals intensifies

Of Lazarus

for generations didn’t we fear coming back to life in our coffins you try to keep a center of gravity within yourself but the new laid egg’s speckled shell the silver dandelion seed entrapped in a cube of plexiglass take you off guard if one could believe in mental processes floating in air a child found unconscious under icy water may survive if their face is kept continuously cold one could go on to believing in angels yes we poured vinegar and pepper into the mouth applied red hot pokers to the feet let it not come near me but cells that have been starved for more than five minutes die not from lack of oxygen but when their oxygen supply resumes let it not fold round or over me yes we flicker off on off on in Tibet the body is given a sky burial and left on a mountain top

Of Silence

we listen for melodic echoes of our parents and offspring crying speech is produced on the exhale it is invisible it is not eating it is not thinking it is not a moveable part of the body not fingers wrists or lungs not dreaming when released from the taboo against vocalization the women of our waterside switch back without sacrifice to pure sound narrating where they left off amid foliage in the dark and in the sea

Barbara Tomash is the author of five books of poetry including Her Scant State (Apogee) forthcoming in 2023 and PRE- (Black Radish). Recently released chapbooks are Of Residue (Drop Leaf) and A Woman Reflected (palabrosa). Her writing has been a finalist for The Dorset Prize, the Colorado Prize, The Test Site Poetry Prize, and the Black Box Poetry Prize. She lives in Berkeley, California, and teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University.
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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.