About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of eight books and chapbooks, including This Visit (Blazevox, 2015), How to be Another (Cervena Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her ninth book, Heisenberg’s Salon, is available now for pre-order from Blazevox. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, and Verse Daily.

Aliesa Zoecklein

Last Days

Again and again the sequins fly off, fall.
In the wheel of a half-dream, she says, the body longs for fuchsia—

bruised petals, crushed berries, this dress that shimmers even in shreds.
If she could sew herself inside the dress, if she could hold

herself at the horizon line of just that color—
the tremble, the tunnel, the mouth.

However beautiful, however homely, the day’s dress
she knows she must tear, scratch, claw until it becomes

something else entire—a heap of sequins,
stray flashes of light at the edges of the room.

Better to love a rent sleeve over there where hot stars
mark the body she remembers inside

that dress, a god-light telling her to repair the story—arrange
the photos, wordless, for another beginning is about to begin:

her sorrowful hair, her cheekbones sharp in a wing of moonlight,
her suitcase of dresses, packed and waiting by the door.

Overheard Answer to an Unheard Question

Well that depends on whether you’re asking
about the recent or the long ago past.
I would say strawberry with a hint of sour
on the pale side, not fully ripe.
Tiny seeds persisting in the mouth
but nothing to overwhelm the burst of berry.
Further back in time, only meat, frozen
thawed, frozen and strong like venison.
I ate because I had to eat
but I’m telling you I tasted only fear,
a startled on-the-run taste.
I learned to feast on the tender dread
of my imaginings. Some days there were bees
circling in a crown, or flies.
Ever since he died and I almost died but didn’t,
I nibble those sweet berries.
And I endure the hoof beats of grief
pounding a narrow path that permits only one.

Kidney-Shaped Swimming Pool

From above, a jewelscape of embedded glittering,
zones of affluence, confluence, a rivering wealth
that pools in places. Down here, birthmark, blunder,

curve of obfuscate, seduce. Creeping fig, coleus,
and the wet curve, again. This biomorphic slide,
so sensate, so secret I forget: the sealed edge

was opened once, a soil crypt, a mud hole, days
of torrent and repair. Before that, decades of chemical
weathering, accretions, intermittent leaching.

A crush-stone sub-base and then rebar, a tensile melt
of refrigerators and auto bodies. “Steel Bones,”
said the men bending the basket of the deep end.

All this for a curve that signals no threat, no threat.
Still, the slender message of amplitude, of woven light
swivels a liquid lapse of better judgment, what every

watery child in us fails to understand: spall, improper
set-up of the slope line, the microscopic split that begins
and begins and begins. Beyond every convincing curve,

there’s a gate-latch moment when the stranger arrives.
Study the shape again. The pool swells with itself as if alive,
the deep end stretches from shallow, a cell preparing to divide.

Aliesa Zoecklein won the 2014 Peter Meinke Award for her chapbook At Each Moment, Air. Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Water-stone Review, Peacock Journal, Cimarron Review, and The Lake among others. Aliesa lives with her wife in Gainesville, Florida where she teaches writing at Santa Fe College.

Devon Wootten

Five Poems from Gimme the Pretty

This is sufficient.

See also, perhaps—
see also,
the names of certain rivers.

Possible cognates.
A somewhat similar form.

Reader, it has been suggested.

*

Reader, mark this diffident tone — is and has.
Is and has and what thoughts I’d’ve…

Reader—
a slip.

*

Would that you were & would that you had—

This is the barest of commitments.

Reader, let us suppose
(You’re underwhelmed—I get it.)

a truly epic volta.

*

So this is where we find ourselves.
Suggestive metaphor.
Slow retrograde.

I’ll tell you what. I can manage throve.
I can manage probable.
Iamb.
Purgative.

 

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In the same sense, a reduction,

the first

a long lone (I meant) a long line
unattested,

elemental — what’s not sensical,

i.e., a parent, predicative—
keep, stay, etc.,

except when noted,

any stretch of water

of sufficient depth.

Not sinking, not aground.

*

Reader, make fast what calms and fogs oblige.

& if ever,—
if ever a body’s

unseeming
whelves what makes you whole — reader,

we are almost only literal.

Almost,
& in every way unsound.

Thou kyndlest, &
thou setst a flame.

Reader, we are borne unto & brim-full —
havened in what likens
& in what we cast aside.

 

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Reader, I’d’ve left this undone, gainsaid.
What mis-occasions & what kins us whole.

*

Reader, I could not stay the sea —
the sky’s
belikened visage —
source and recompense.

*

Reader, I’d unalloy.
I’d belacken.

Reader, I’d although desire in you.

*

Reader, what is not to love.

Believe you me.

Some say a rite reversed leaves nothing
&
that wonders reft of wonder fail.
I say

what thisness does, undid, beguiles
& you —
you’s a binding,
o’erwrought.
Reader,

*

You know from tides. You know from wake & whence.

That one should be until & to such extent.
This trues, this lightens, this fills the sails.

 

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This respite
[Wait for it.]

I supposes.

*

Reader, you’ll’ve noticed then’s implicit.
From one, the other
& all’s gone pear-shaped.

Reader, what’ve you said that’s made me so?

*

A taking-stock—
cedarandearth

she said,
will this end up in a poem,

& she said,
I am rift.

*

Reader,
unsaying’s not a thing.

& when’s no less a becoming.

So
call it back.

Call now’s unending & what

ceaselessness betides
as unto you a song.

O, stark evermore.
She’s the distance.

She’s that what that belies & more—
Reader,

everything has at least one definition.
& is this supposed to comfort me?

 

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Reader,
let’s neither of us fuck this up

or,
let’s to the fullest extent—
either’s

in keeping.

Reader, either’s the white peaks

& uh,
what’s beyond compare—

*(<———— cowardice, duh.)

If nothing’s as readable as something,
then where’s the slip—
then where’s the loss.
Reader,
this is what you came for—
realer done right.

(finger the break /
what’s broke in twain)

What I could not say & the moment before—
goose-skein & what ends ever-leaming.

Reader,
every poem’s the first poem—an O cast whenward.

*

You can’t have it both ways—
what’s cast’s as good
as thrown & I—
I’s a knowing un-done.

Reader,
what’s order but the light in lightlessness.

Devon Wootten teaches at Whitman College. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in BAX 2018, Fence, LIT, Aufgabe, Colorado Review, Drunken Boat, Octopus, and RHINO, among others. A former resident of Yaddo and Anderson ranch, he is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Montana. Devon lives with his wife among the wheat fields of southeast Washington. He also curates bestamericanyouand wikipoesis.

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

(eternally).

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.

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers)

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Artist’s Statement

My name is Umar Rashid. Not too long ago I made art under the alias Frohawk Two Feathers. I create historical fiction (rooted in actual historical fact, if there truly is such a phenomenon) dealing mainly with issues of colonialism, identity, race, gender, and politics. The “Frenglish Empire” (A merger of the colonial era empires of France and England) is the vehicle for my tale. My work has taken me all over the globe, to lowly hovels and great halls. I’ve been working in an episodic fashion for the past 12 years, parceling out the day-to-day of the empire in short, concise bursts, in order to keep the material fresh. I also do a bit of culture clash and time travel within the work, in an effort to engage a broader base. Hip hop, fashion, the streets, and gang culture factor heavily in my oeuvre. And as a self-taught artist, I borrow greatly from varying methods of art-making, from Native American ledger drawings to Romantic era paintings, African and Caribbean folk art, fetishes, and map-making. My current focus is the Western United States, stretching down through all of the vice-royalties of the colonial Spanish Empire (roughly Mexico to the Tierra del Fuego). I diverge from my narrative from time to time only to create content, and context to support it. I will never run out of material within my lifetime.

Umar Rashid was born in 1976 in Chicago, Illinois, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He earned his BA at Southern Illinois University in 2000. He has had recent solo exhibitions at the Hudson River Museum (Yonkers, NY), the Wellin Museum of Art (Clinton, NY), the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, NJ), the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, NV), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver, CO). In Fall 2014, Rashid exhibited as a MATRIX artist at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT. Recent group shows include exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA), the Burlington City Arts (Burlington, VT), and Guerrero Gallery (San Francisco, CA). His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Progressive Collection, 21C Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Wellin Museum of Art, among others. Major publications that have reviewed his work include Art in America, The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.

Lina Puerta

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Artist’s Statement

My work examines the relationship between nature and the body. Utilizing a wide variety of materials — concrete, clay, resin, wood, foam, fabric, artificial plants, paper pulp and handmade paper; craft and recycled items, I create textural forms and compositions that blend the human-made world with the natural, exploring notions of control, consumerism and life’s fragility. My artistic process is in great part guided by the physical qualities of the materials, their textures, forms and colors; and informed by concepts of femininity, fashion, sexuality and artificiality.

Lina Puerta (1969), born in NJ and raised in Colombia, holds an MS in Art Education from Queens College/CUNY and is recipient of several residencies and grants including: the 2017 NYFA Fellowship in Crafts and Sculpture; 2017 Joan Mitchell foundation Artist Residency, New Orleans, LA; 2017, 21C Museum Hotels and Southern Foodways Alliance Artist in Residence, Oxford, MS; 2016 Dieu Donné Workspace Residency (NYC), 2015 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, 2015 Kohler Arts Industry Residency, Sheboygan,WI; 2014-15 Keyholder Residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, 2013-14 Smack Mellon Art Studio Program, 2014 Materials for the Arts, 2013 Wave Hill Winter Workspace and the 2010 Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City. Exhibition venues include: The Museum of Biblical Art, El Museo del Barrio, Socrates Sculpture Park, Wave Hill, and Geary Contemporary in NYC. Puerta’s work has been written about in Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Wilder Quarterly, Sculpture Magazine and Artnet News, among others.

Francis Pavy

—All images courtesy of Barbara Archer Gallery. Click on any image to enlarge—

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Artist’s Statement

My work stems from the southern narrative storytelling tradition. Common subjects for me are the folk-life and folklore of the local people juxtaposed against the fabric of everyday American life. I am particularly interested in music, musicians and the musical traditions of Louisiana and the South.I strive to capture, reflect and inspire the universal by touching the immediate. A broad spectrum of people identify with my work because they can relate to the sublime, ordinary, mundane and iconic imagery I create. By touching the local or accessible experience they are able to touch the universal.

A lifelong resident of Louisiana, Francis X Pavy was born in Lafayette on March 2, 1954. He graduated in 1976 with a fine arts degree in sculpture from The University of Southwestern Louisiana. In 1977, Pavy started working in a glass shop, making leaded and beveled glass windows. He opened his own glass studio in 1982. In 1985, he adopted painting as his primary medium, but he continues to work in many other media as well, including prints, constructions, sculpture, glass, video, and installation.

Robert Okaji

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

1 (reflection)

Six iterations, alike but lessened in sequence, and always in pairs:
front and back, oblique, the two mirrors becoming four, then six.

A perfect mirror reflects and neither transmits nor absorbs light.

Tilting my chin, I accept reflectance according to its distribution.

Retina as transducer, producing neural impulses.

The images consume no space but the effect is of distance.

Vision is not simply the retina’s translation
but counts inference and assumption among its influences.

The sum and product of its parts: 1 + 2 + 3, or, 1 x 2 x 3.

Angles achieve distinctions apparent at each adjustment.

Turning slightly, I detect movement in each replica.

A six-door cubic cage depicting the bondage of sense and elements.

It is possible to withdraw from this frame.

2 (answers)

Does the weaker eye perceive less.
Who conceals the shadow’s death.
Is a distal truth a lie or merely implication.
How do you rid the mirror of its ghosts.
What resonates in the echo’s decline.
Did the light switch subvert the blackened image.
Apparition, projection or visual representation.
When do waves not disturb.
At what point does belief transmute sight.
What fixes the mirror’s image.
Who closed his eyes and saw light.

3 (prosopagnosia)

I sip coffee and gaze out the second-floor window.

More light enters my neighbor’s office than mine.

Calculate the difference between illumination and glare.

Looking ahead, I claim no face and recognize no one.

The eye converts a signal from one form of energy to another.

Accepting light from external objects, I perceive reflection as the true arbiter.

The dissected path impairs transduction.

Face as identifier: to make, to do.

Translation: imperfection: diminishment.

Blink.

Pleasure in Absence of Ending (Ensō)

Thoughtful, proposing not end, but process.

In this noon’s grayness I disclose my need.

Which is a lotus floating in your pond, a clutch of zeros
blooming in moonlight. Last night’s missing sleep.

An ending, by definition, concludes.

But what occurs in a circle’s body, or infinity’s border?

Imprecision acknowledged, I sip wine and gauge distance.

Take comfort in the disorderly.

Starting at the top, the brush moves down and right,
clockwise, then rising in opposition, halts.

Drifting, incomplete, I step back.

Some leave a gap; others do not.

That Number upon Which the Demand Lieth

Overcoming duality, yet binding: the trinity.
Beyond the contrast of two, it initiates the concept of many.
Albertus Magnus claimed that three lives in all things.

Becoming; being;
disappearing.

In Old Saxon, the month of May is named trimilki, season of three milkings.
Number as quality depends upon the visual field.
The ancient Egyptian sign for the plural requires three strokes.

Points; lines;
angles.

Lao-tzu said the triad produces all.
Acronyms, sports, and traffic lights reflect our ternary culture.
The devil may appear in the form of a three-legged hare.

Witness; testament;
tribute.

Representing the unknowable: I, you, and the beyond.
The figure of completion, the number of the cube.
A Sumerian number sequence began “man, woman, many.”

Curse; liturgy;
blessing.

The scale as a succession of thirds.
Imperfection implies the concealment of perfection.
Shiva’s number, his eyes, his braids, his place.

Root; third;
fifth.

The triangle in Euclidean space.
I walk the three roads to the commonplace, preferring rhetoric.
Three to through, it penetrates the personal, unhinges that door.

The law; the land;
the world to come.

Robert Okaji is a half-Japanese poet living in Texas with his wife, two dogs and some books. The author of several chapbooks, micro-chapbooks and a mini-digital chapbook, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Eclectica, Crannóg, The Lake, Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, The Mantle, Wildness and elsewhere.

Stephen Paul Miller

Poem

          —after Frank O’Hara, “Poem [Lana Turner Has Collapsed!]”

Hillary Clinton has collapsed!
I’m half asleep in my car.
My air conditioner is on and
the radio says it is hot but
it’s not hot and
I’m in a hurry to
read on Fire Island and
and I’m late and
suddenly I hear
HILLARY CLINTON HAS COLLAPSED!
It is hot at ground zero
but not that hot
I’ve been tired
and nearly dozed off
but never passed out
oh Hillary Clinton you’re going to lose get up!

Stephen Paul Miller’s seven poetry books include Being with a Bullet (Talisman) and There’s Only One God and You’re Not It (Marsh Hawk Press). His scholarly works include The Seventies Now (Duke University Press). He’s a Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York City.

David Lehman

Poem in the Manner of “Poem” by Frank O’Hara

          —for Stephen Paul Miller, who wrote “Hillary Clinton has collapsed!”

It is 12:25 in New York a Monday
and when the street rises to meet me
the sun sneaks out between a
pair of clouds splitting like forlorn
lovers and I’m in a hurry for no
reason other than I’m a New
Yorker it’s my nature to walk fast
and besides I want to meet you
whoever you are that’s when
I pass a newsstand and pick up
the afternoon paper and get
on the subway where for
once in my life I get a seat and
read “I’m a Fun Person” by
Hillary Clinton which I doubt
she wrote but hope she will
forward to her friends with
the one-word comment: “Humorous”

David Lehman’s most recent books of poetry are Poems in the Manner Of (Simon & Schuster, 2017); New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013); Yeshiva Boys (Scribner, 2009), and When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005). His critical works include A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs (Schocken, 2009) and The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998). Lehman is the series editor of The Best American Poetry and teaches in the New School’s graduate writing program.

Brandon Graving

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Artist’s Statement

My work has a natural immediacy, like a snapshot, capturing the chemical reaction of liquid inks as they are pushed into paper with a press, or sculptures that move with ambient air currents around them, interacting with the viewer.

I am interested in new realms within the field of unique prints via innovative technique and scale. The deeply embossed prints begin with an elaborately textured matrix consisting of natural forms, including aerial views of landscapes. I love the sensitivity of a wet piece of paper which perfectly records the wild and varied objects and inks, allowing saturation deep into it — or thick, reticulated ink poised on its surface, translating the moment the chemistry is caught and transfixed into this sculptural monoprint. The visceral quality of large scale prints offers a highly textured physicality only possible with the specialized equipment we have built for this purpose.

After years of bronze casting, my interest in paper has turned to casting trees with paper. Using crepe myrtle trees felled during hurricane Katrina, I form the spines of these sculptures with archival abaca paper over the trunks and branches, with the help of a structural steel armature. Comprising a series called Wonder, these sculptures are finished with individually torn translucent vellum tendrils. Some have drops of crystal at their extremities, which hold points of light, and defy gravity, like beads of water traveling along strawberry leaves. While these appear fragile, the abaca paper is incredibly durable, adding to the work’s conceptual information. With close inspection, the surface reveals the individual placement of fingertip-like pieces of abaca, forming a complex, textured surface. The kinetic aspect of these works allows them to exist in space, as we do. Animated by the viewer’s ambient air movements, they become directly involved with their audience, while producing a dance of shadows.

My work attempts to elicit an experience rather than recording or depicting an object or place; ideally, communicating aspects of being human, as I continue to grapple with that complexity.

Brandon Graving is a sculptor and printmaker, best know for her large-scale monoprint/sculpture installations. Graving’s 10.5 foot by 32 foot Ephemera: River with Flowers is the largest monoprint ever made by a single artist, and was on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art when the city was hit by Hurricane Katrina. Purchased by the Frederick R. Weismann Collection, this work has recently been exhibited in more than a dozen museums nationally. Graving’s work is in numerous private and public collections including the New Orleans Museum of Art. Her many grants and awards include the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award. A few years ago, she consolidated her print studios to found Gravity Press Experimental Print Shop, and has been working for the past four years on woodcut prints with S. Hannock and Sting which will open at the Metropolitan Museum in January, 2018.