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.

G.C. Waldrep

first person

draw the empty frames
from their hope chest
(the folded gray uniform
long gone to dust)

wreathed in ash
I fletch the sky’s reed-sister
as if all human
wrongs were never-
helmsmen, never-priests

on Mount Monadnock
I tested the berries
(sweet in summer: True)
against flesh’s flame

the body’s silver specie
a music in my mind
ghost-music, -specie
can’t be your mirror, I
cheats death again

the root & its entourage
ark-in-the-forest,
zither-      lit & -strung

don your ghost-uniform
muster me in cyme-
light, marrow-light,
unbide my tender service

untitled (specimen dowry)

Pearl pearl be my docent—

the green wedge
attests—&, the singing cleat—

I have many secret debts—

The human body is a system—

the dream sweeps
through, & puts music away—

my life in the great courts

 

*

to address the least durable moment—
trace-protection
a mythos conferred, heavy gender
weighting the forest’s punctum—

faith’s
     same four notes in the understory—

manna

shelter-vessel, the medulla’s gray star

      the copper pit in which I face you
shifts aside, lobed with the literal—

extraction’s logic: adduce vs adjourn
—my tasting-garment, fragrant hyphae

stoop to murmur        in flood of thee

G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are a long poem, Testament (BOA Editions, 2015), and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn, 2013). With Joshua Corey he edited The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta, 2012). His new collection, feast gently, is due out from Tupelo Press in 2018. He lives in Lewisburg, Pa., where he teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.

Alina Stefanescu

At Inappropriate Hour

We are watching that show about the psychic and all I can think is how lovely the way her front teeth overlap in two places and how esemplastic all intergalactic hinges because I like her teeth and hope stardust will solve her work-life balance in pixels. That one child might inherit hypnotic snaggle-teeth. /// All I can think is children not ready for school in less than four hours no lunches yet packed and your snore never settles into an earnest jazz-club clutter but always this jagged shaft coming up /// rattle stroke out rest /// always this uneven paddle when we canoe. I think who said the bed is a boat. Maybe they were married to you. ///// The psychic heroine pretends to look tired with that extravagant yawn since bags below the eyes are impermissible forms of carry-on luggage for females at security check points haggard leaves one stranded yet all I can think is how I promised tonight would not find me awake at the hour when Steve has gone silent. /////// Steve has gone silent anyway Steve is an unlikely name for the barred owl who nests in the tree near our bedroom window but what could you expect me to call a creature who foretells our deaths every night for the past seven months one of us will die in the morning eating all the Raisin Bran we have left without milk I forgot // All I can think is how a promise might be less than an omen as a toothache is less than a broken jaw as a head circles the room without one single landing strip in sight all I can think is how perhaps you are a better person at the end of the day when all is counted you close your eyes and become a shepherd while I scan the foreground for what comes next as if it can’t come come home without me watching as if I am some pretty tv-show psychic who looks sexy when she yawns and yawns and yawns and ///// I am the liar who lives in her head / let’s call it a day, let’s call it a bed / but promises to be there when you need me brewing coffee and muffins with bacon. /// All I can think is three nights in a row and this psychic show but nothing ever happens. Not yet.

In the Car I Savor Scars

It no longer excites me to drive without a seatbelt. Old yearnings fall off like patches or sun-baked scabs; wounds of former-wanteds neatly shut; little scars with lips seamed tight; a line of children saying they didn’t do it.

A line is a list of body parts waiting: an elbow speckled by silver scar coinage; knee covered skid marks, standard staples; palm you can’t read given the white lines scrawled over original fortune.

It no longer excites to be reckless and so I sit behind a song for whom bass is a scabbard and don’t even consider plastic surgery. Don’t permit a revision of history to make people feel better. To say no one got hurt. Don’t allow what has been dodge-balled to dislocate the scar’s merely-decent dazzle.

Car radios sing about love and bitches and oft-blandished objects. || A burgeon of limpid-cowboy-bathos. || A busybody-bunting of better-business-bureauing. || See how the words get sewn together. || See how the story piles up. ||| See my scars, my streetwalking versions of shameless self, each step slurring skin and good paper. |||||||

These scars must be savored, I announce to the duck crossing which keeps us from flying. And have you seen me nude with nothing but a blacklight? Have you seen what a blacklight does to my body? Oh, you would never stop looking.

We Are Not What They See We Are

To leave a look behind is to be seen forever. Long-lasting looks which others hold against us as evidence of the character who shares our name. Lookey-there looks. Here-comes-cookie looks,               We are not what they say. Nevertheless, we are something they have seen and confirmed in a look.                The family-portrait pout we wish we could take back for all the explaining required every Christmas. The pout that makes us look bad at funerals when what we want to look is sorry and mournful. The contemptuous teenaging look which repudiates our claims to having been angst-free and well-behaved throughout. The unhappy camper look that demolishes our reputation as profound and somewhat sensitive nature-lovers. The girl of the wild in doubt. We want to be pixies but the look is not a pixie look.                Devise                anodynes instead, correction of original bad choice. Knowing better now, this era of anodyne-paradigms pocked upon our model houses. We snap eons of selfies to repudiate the looks they say define us.                We post selfies everywhere. Post and post and post until our faces freeze into selfies.     Then pre-selfie faces and post-selfie faces.                It doesn’t take long for expectant-selfie faces to emerge. We are shameless selfie-faced. Two-faced is not enough for us. Two-faced is a trap and we want more than two faces to the three-dimensional human form.                We are not what they see we are in that look they save.                The look is a corpse in which they bury us. Even if they bring flowers we say it’s still a corpse and we won’t be part of it. We improvise solutions. Snapshitshot.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with her partner and four small mammals. A Pushcart nominee, she is the author of Objects In Vases (Anchor & Plume, March 2016), Letters to Arthur (Beard of Bees, August 2016), and Ipokimen (Anchor and Plume, November 2016). Her first fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the 2016 Brighthorse Books Prize. She can’t wait for you to read it. More online at alinastefanescu.com.

Brian Sargent

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Artist’s Statement

Because the Night: from After Dark, Prospect Park and Allegories of a Posthumous Landscape

I began taking pictures at night in Prospect Park in the spring of 2001. I had just purchased my first serious camera and was looking forward to making something technically impressive, as my work up to that point was handicapped by often slipshod technique and always roughshod equipment. We had just come through a great political tumult, with an impeachment followed by an election which saw an intellectually incurious man assume the office of the President after losing the popular vote (and save for the Supreme Court, the electoral college as well). The dot-com bubble had burst and the crisis was beginning to spread to the wider economy. Enron, voted “the most innovative company in America” and one of the sitting president’s biggest financial backers, was revealed to have committed financial fraud on a massive scale. All summer long, I watched with fascination as its share price slid towards zero, waiting for the penny to drop. And then of course it was September.

Like everybody else I was experiencing elevated levels of anxiety, but my true panic was realizing that our leadership, emboldened with the highest approval ratings on record, was about to commit an even greater tragedy: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So what does all of this have to do with night photography? I’m not sure except that I was compelled to look for a place where the truth could not be refuted, and I sought that in nature, where, for the time being anyway, truth was eternal.

In the park I re-discovered history. I made note of the gas lamps lining the pathways and knew that one day the jaundiced light emitted by the sodium vapor lamp would also disappear, and it gave me a strange comfort. I observed statues commemorating past conflicts, listened as men on horseback whispered to me about human folly and found I was a little less bitter. The park revealed to me the present as it has always been, a crossroads of the past and the future. In my work I always strive to sit at that intersection. This new camera of mine, a rangefinder, required me to use the center portion of the lens to find focus, but I recognize now something else was motivating me to hew to the visual center in my frame. As a practical reality, the political center was dead. I think part of me hoped to anchor this expression in the guise of composition, where the rule of thirds reigned supreme.

It’s been over a decade since I’ve made those pictures and I again find myself drawn to night and to nature, tilling the same ground: failure of leadership, arrogance and hubris, a desire to invent our own version of the truth. Barack Obama, an erudite, measured centrist was elected President. Inheriting an economy on the brink (and a constitution under assault) it was his misfortune to have to save the established order; our misfortune was that he succeeded a little too well. His greatest success was his greatest failure, for it gave rise to the Tea Party, which in turn brought us Donald Trump. That Donald Trump could be ushered into office under the auspices of the working class is almost enough to shatter the very meaning of irony, which is now blooming like so much algae, consuming all the oxygen in the pond. The fourth estate, having abrogated their role in the run-up to the Iraq Invasion is now desperate to reclaim the mantle of responsible journalism. Hopefully this newfound vigor on the part of the press corps can help restore the balance of power. In Allegories of A Posthumous Landscape, I revisit the figures that spoke to me in my Prospect Park series, only this time transforming real people into statuettes, in hopes that they might whisper to the future that “yes, we were here once too.”

Born in Rochester NY, Brian Sargent earned a BFA in drawing and photography from Purchase College. Upon graduating he pursued an internship at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, volunteering in the library’s rare book department. After hours Brian played drums with the staff of the Visual Studies Workshop, trading rock steady beats for access to VSW’s darkrooms. His work has appeared in numerous group shows in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Sante Fe over the last 10 years and is held in numerous private collections, most notably the Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy Collection at the Granary in Connecticut. He has managed the Fox Movietone Newsreel archive in New York for over a decade, helping documentary filmmakers tell their stories while pursuing a career in the arts.

F. Daniel Rzicznek

from Leafmold

 

Everything unclean can be washed. Everything unwashable can be burned. The red-tailed hawk’s icewater cry draws the throb from a bruised knuckle but only for a prolonged instant. Could not make a thing today. Could not make enough self fast enough. Make in the morning, before the day knows what to do. Make while the dogs are hungry. Have you ever really hugged a dog, down on its level? That unstable, breathing altar, maybe a model for the first table? We’re caught up: running at your side: at heel: it is just like the West to frame every last detail in terms of itself. Change for me, change for me, but do not change. Cato the Younger was born some two thousand years ago and we are still debating his suicide. Dr. Sleepdream of anonymous bombast asks what the sailboat resembles, as if the answer could be otherwise. Nicknamed by fate, you looked to a point entirely unknown but fathomed by mathematics alone. A great blue heron through the backyard’s treetops — the ordinary luck of living on a drained swamp. The angel-orange of the dash’s warning light brings the wholesale weight of our stress to the icy, air-chocked surface.

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Freedom from science ends up meaning more science. I cook cod’s tongues in the back of my fevered throat while the sick dog snores and dreams. The well-tailored remains of a visceral stupidity at odds with its own psychotropic lust. A flush beats a pair. My hotel rule: always take the pen and notepad. My heroin rule: never do it. My funeral rule: why bother. My Frank Lloyd Wright rule: nod and bow to the waterside grasses. The old dog sneezes violently and I am forced to break my write-with-black-ink rule. Combing back through all of these eight years. Line of dots in the margins. Inaccuracies and errata smuggled via alternate versions of this weird life. Out of the piñata: embryos, platypus eggs, capers, AAA batteries, candy corn, fur-lined boots, Communism, beanfields, the paintings of George Bellows — all of them, a halo of unspoken thoughts, the current cattle population of North America, greenhouses choked with grape tomatoes, everyone who has ever died of appendicitis, mercy. How many poets are looking at the sky right now? They see the bottom of the page and turn back. Driven wild by purity, the mind sits on its hands, watches the ruins burn, feels its nails growing.

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Reeking of smoked salmon and white Rhone, I enter the chapel. Something behind the body. Something past. A response to a response: redeemed, astronomical, begin. The Broadman Hymnal I grip smells of laughter and the crackling of pipe tobacco in ancient hands. My doctor and I discuss the inevitability of advertisements delivered via wireless signal directly to the brain. My doctor and I discuss the lost art of trephination. Lines of power slope between one world and the next: they cannot be cut, cannot even be touched. Reading about canine psychology at forty thousand feet raises some questions: Just how long ago were these nails claws? and Isn’t anything with a brain roughly human? Back home a pine full with fog coughs up the moon. Ducks of sleep, flock of visions, bouncing room to room with night’s woody music: full of stems and structure. We cover ourselves with garments to forget the fact of our animalism. We go so far as to cover ourselves with animals. Animals then cover us with their various hungers. The scarlet seeping forward is the beginning of something holy.

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A nation of mirrors — the clergy gone berserk, the politicians stepping noiselessly onto the moon, the midwives with their ears covered and backs turned. It’s all I can do to bring myself to cook a little toast in the morning. It is a cloud of knowing that arrives as transport: finger cymbals chiming in the sperm whale’s tummy, cardinals on branches singing “take me to the river,” Brahmins waltzing silently through mud, through body-ash. Listening about violence at the reading, I realize I have never hit a man on part of his head with either of my fists. Tabula rasa followed with a question mark. The streets grow older with rain, younger with snow, and stain themselves into the ongoing present with the still heat of July, memory just another way of saying cut your hair or tap your head to the window and pray. Random as a feather: an urge, an affection, a reunion of the senses, a gallery of seers. The library could deliver something heinous — not a vitamin, not a salve, not a remedy, but a text like a free state, a paregoric of the brain, a motion resolved by downpour.

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of two poetry collections, Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2009) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press, 2007), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions, 2015). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Volt, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, The Pinch, Natural Bridge, and elsewhere. Also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press, 2010), Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University.

Greely Myatt

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Artist’s Statement

As an artist, I want you to care about something as much as I care. To do that I make work that is at the same time familiar, and a bit strange — mysterious and, I hope, poetic. I want the work to be accessible on numerous levels. I attempt that through the selection of materials, treatment of form, use of subject matter and the method of presentation. I remain conscious of how my work rubs up to art across time and how it is informed by that history. The sculptural objects and installations I have produced refer to topics as varied as High Modernism, topical issues, the landscape — both physical and cultural — as well as music, jokes and cartoons. I have consistently attempted to combine art historical references with vernacular influences. As a native of the rural south, I have a tremendous respect for work that is made by the hand and guided by the heart and eye. But I also understand the importance of the mind in this process. To state my approach to the making of art in the simplest and most direct manner, I have used these — the hand, the eye, the heart and the mind.

Greely Myatt was born in Mississippi. He currently lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee, where he is Professor of Art at The University of Memphis. His sculptures and installations have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions across the United States, Europe and Japan. He has received grants and fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, The University of Memphis, The University of Georgia, Alternate Roots, Atlanta, and received the Mississippi Arts and Letters Visual Arts Award in 1994. Myatt was an exchange artist to Israel in 1998. In 2009 work from twenty years of living and working in Memphis were exhibited across the city in nine separate venues. In 2011 he was invited to Island Press at Washington University, St. Louis to produce prints. His work has been reviewed in Art in America, ArtNews, Sculpture Magazine, ArtForum, Art Papers, Number:, Juxtapoz and American Quilter. Represented by Sandler Hudson Gallery, Atlanta, and David Lusk Gallery, Memphis and Nashville, his work is in numerous private and public collections. He is currently working on a public project for Urban Arts in Memphis, TN.

Caolan Madden

Poetics of Loneliness

The silence, the league of witches.
The clean bed. I am no man’s
Elizabeth;
that unclaimed feeling.

Moonlit meadow, crooked tree.
Is it confessional. Is it persona.
To invest instead in information
somehow not processed by a body

The words deformed by a throat and
the fingers deformed by words,
the slick of fat on the cauldron

Once or twice under the winter sky,
midwinter, gold window. Summer,
a roof, once or twice. A candle
changes a face. A body the snow.

Your Mother Wasted a Year

Your mother drank nine million tequila gimlets

Your mother wanted them foamy

Your mother read Fifty Shades of Grey

Your mother walked up Rugby Road feeling restless feeling that teenage feeling feeling spoiled

Your mother walked up Rugby Road singing Summer is ready/when you are and it was summer

Your mother walked up Rugby Road listening to Summer is ready/when you are and it was technically the last day of winter/the magnolia bulbs were hard knobs against the gray sky/you were a hard knob against your mother’s pelvis/she lifted her feet one by one by

Your mother’s manicure was Blue-Away and impeccable

Your mother’s lipstick was NSFW

Your mother drank seven Estonian beers

Your mother poured that year down the drain like the coffee in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Your mother knew that waste is luxury

Your mother said I don’t want to grow up I want to spoil

Your mother didn’t want to lose weight

Your mother didn’t want to do homework

Your mother didn’t want to lean in

Your mother didn’t want to preregister for daycare

Your mother lost touch with all her friends

Your mother only played video games

Your mother leveled up but not IRL

Your mother held the domestic record for longest quickening chain in Final Fantasy XII

Then your father achieved the same score but only after

Your mother knows it’s mean to say the year in which you were conceived is a year she wasted

Your mother knows that now that you, the trace of you, exists, she can never waste anything again

Your mother knows that “can never” means “should never” but also “will never be able to”

Your mother knows that “she can never” means “she is not”

Your mother knows that when you made your shape known she folded up her I

Your mother holds you in her pocket like a ticket

Your mother could not lift her head from the sofa on New Year’s Eve

Your mother said why didn’t anyone invite me anywhere for New Year’s Eve

Your mother used to think what if I threw myself under a truck

Your mother thinks what if I let you kill me

Your mother painted your room blue because you’re supposed to be a girl

Your mother was denied financing

Your mother walked up Rugby Road and “Pretty Good Year” came on and she thought

Your mother used to feel bad about the boys she couldn’t love

Your mother knows you are her opus

Your mother wrote you all over her diary

Your mother put you on her google calendar

Your mother knows she will get the reminder

Caolan Madden has an MFA from Johns Hopkins and is currently a PhD candidate in English literature at Rutgers. Her poems and essays have appeared in Bone Bouquet, Black Warrior Review, Split Lip, Anthropoid, and WEIRD SISTER. VAST NECROHOL, a chapbook-length poem in the form of a video game, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press.

Julia Leverone

Anew

Look upon me.
Minerva’s done this.
In the blue depths
human hair floats willfully
and now, above,
mine slithers, fixed;
I am in love with it.

As far as Poseidon,
I remember clearly
sliding throughout the bulge of the sea,
some of it getting in me —
that it made me jolt and buck
with its implacable shifting, its twisting.

Released like some bone-bereft jellyfish,
I am now one of those, all
head and hair, and hope
never to return to the beforehand;
I am a mother of myth.

Cursed by my kind,
I am more than what were once my kind;
winged horses burst from me
Medusa,
Medusae.

Naturalist

A material thing on the verge of being split
can emit light, the energy surging through it
causing triboluminescence.
The force of keeping
together against pulling away — earthquakes
do it, burst into short show.
Light
renouncing: though the words we have for it
sound slow, are a mouthful, like the day too full

of light in the far north in the summer: 3
a.m. and the sun on water dancing,
never quite faded.
But that’s a tipping
and a siphoning, a sky refilling — not an avalanche
you might miss —

when you came to me, smiling,
there was already a tearing: I bit your skin,
I pulled away,
but understand that I was forming
bonds for both: it was fire working
for adhesion, a little necessary repulsion.

Julia Leverone is an instructor of Spanish and creative writing. She has two chapbooks; Little Escape, winner of the Claudia Emerson Poetry Chapbook Award, will emerge in 2017. Her translations from the Spanish have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Witness, and elsewhere. A comparatist in office and in her bones, she is from Massachusetts, and lives in Texas.

Eva Kwong

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Artist’s Statement

“Love Between the Atoms” refers to the attraction between the protons and the electrons in an atom. I see this attractive force as something that bonds us all together in this world. It is this attractive force which forms bonds at the subatomic level which makes thing work in the physical world that we experience. It is this attractive force that enables us to build forms with clay and to draw people together and build relationships with each other. In many ways, mutual attraction of one form or another is what enables us to connect and create interactions on microcosmic as well as macrocosmic levels, from the physical to the emotional.

I am interested in the interconnection of the myriad of layers in the world, from microcosm to macrocosm. Maybe it is because I grew up with both eastern and western cultures. I was brought up with the traditional chinese concept of yin and yang that underlies all life forms and energies. This was discussed every day by my grandmother, who also passed on to me the joy of making things. Growing up in Hong Kong and New York, I learned to look at everything through the lens of both cultures.

This interest in opposite ways of perception, the intertwining of dualities, has informed all my work for several decades since I was student. I am interested in the juxtaposition of mass/space, land/air, solid/hollow, male and female forms. I feel I am a hybrid hovering between opposites.

My work-study experience at the Rhode Island School of Design Nature Lab sparked my continued interest in forms and concepts from nature. Most of my inspirations for my work come from my direct observation of things in nature and within my life. Often it starts from a question or thought about some human experience; for example, pondering about how our bodies function under the skin, or fertility, and mortality.

I like to make things. It is my way of experiencing and understanding the world through my own filter. It is like ”tapping,” a term used by the Australian bushmen to refer to a sense of an animal or water nearby. It is a gut-felt, intuitive impulse to puts things that I feel, think about, question, or observe in my life into concrete form.

My artwork is a way to understand myself and the interpenetration of the worlds within and around us all.

Eva Kwong was born in Hong Kong and moved to New York as a teenager, where she thought of the visual language of art as another universal language. Her sculptures reflect her bi-cultural background and her interests in natural forms and microbes. Eva received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from the Tyler School of Art. She has been awarded grants from the National Endowment For the Arts, Ohio Art Council, Arts Midwest, PA. Council on the Arts, NCECA, and the McKnight Foundation.

Jeanne Heifetz

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Artist’s Statement

[W]ayfarer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.
— Antonio Machado, Proverbs and Songs 29

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
—Theodore Roethke, The Waking

As a child, I was always afraid of making the wrong decision. Selecting from many possible options was torture unless I could find a convincing rationale for my choice, some external justification beyond my own desire. Fear made me superstitious. I enlisted numerology, mythology, arcane patterns of all sorts to confirm the “rightness” of my decisions.

This body of work confronts decision-making head on. Still craving a system, I borrow one from nature: Plateau’s laws, which govern the branching and growth of many natural forms. Within that system, I improvise, lighting out for the territory without a map. Each drawing grows by slow accretion as I allow myself (or force myself) to make hundreds of tiny sequential decisions.

Working at the micro level, I have no idea of the macro consequences until I step back from the piece. Even then, because I work in ink, I can only move forward, building on what I have already laid down. There’s no turning back. The tiny decisions are irreversible, like scars and other indices of the unidirectionality of our lives. In this way, making the work is like life: a series of incremental choices whose full import we may not know for years.

There is no road: we make the road by walking, and learn by going where to go.

Jeanne Heifetz is an artist and independent curator based in Brooklyn. She has had solo and two-person shows at galleries, nonprofit art centers, and universities in California, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon. Her work has also been included in group shows at galleries, universities, and museums across the United States as well as in Italy, Germany, England, France, and Israel. Her drawings have been included in Manifest’s International Drawing Annual and in the curated registry of The Drawing Center. Heifetz holds an A.B. from Harvard and an M.A. from NYU, neither of them in art.

Gregory Crosby

The Marquis of Sad

I.

Freedom is melancholy; melancholy, freedom.
At least, that’s what the weird sisters told me.

Once spoken, every word is true, even
all the words yoked to great chains of lies.

I never go down to the river for fear
of finding myself on the opposite bank,

not knowing how I came to be there,
miles from any crossing. But I can hear it.

I can hear the rocks suffering the rapids,
the teeming foam of my mind searching for

the tarn of Auber. It’s always in the first
place you look, always in the very last line.

If I say my heart is heavy, it’s because
my heart dowses water; the hidden spring

tugs at it like an impatient child. Now?
it asks. Now? Then when? When? Are we there yet?

II.

The Knight always stands in stark contrast
to Melencolia: his action & resolve opposed

to her pensive, passive hours, but look again
to his face beneath his helm. Look at his eyes.

He already feels the dragon’s neck beneath
his boot heel & he’s sorry to have ever heard

of damsels, princesses, sacrifices.
Look again at her face: the look of one who

goes to war knowing there is no victory,
only survival. Those who live to fight

another day know the days are endless…
days upon days, forever armed to the teeth.

III.

I know that the person who uses the word
escapist as a pejorative is most likely

a jailer. A cow caught running in the street
ahead of its slaughter date was returned

to the butcher who declined to kill it,
turning it over to a sanctuary

where no one is eaten by anything but
time. Once in a while, the universe is so

magnanimous that it breaks your heart in two.
It comes back to you, this story, whenever

you fire up the grill to the sound of your
empty stomach, the coals aching with red.

IV.

Here in the Bastille of Monday morning,
Sunday morning comes down with a fever,

dying for lack of water, a word of kindness.
From the cell of the warden’s office, I rejoice.

When the rabble tear this week down, brick by brick,
this is what I will miss the most: the quiet

hour where I sign, with a flourish, another
letter of resignation that no one will accept.

V.

Everybody dies alone & that is beautiful.
Of course, it sounds funny when you sing it.

There are some gestures that can only be seen,
never felt. Unless you make them yourself.

Noblesse oblige requires me to tell you this.
Now, please, let me eat my cake (here’s a slice for you).

Solstice Goddamn

Summer doesn’t care about elections.
The moon, she is full, with no more fucks to give.
All this death another sticky note: Live!

Every moment is a course correction;
we have overcorrected. Connections
without connecting. No time to relive

the ravenous instant, the open sieve.
The breeze, she never makes any objections.
I’m gonna take off my shoes, climb a tree,

& learn to play the flute. The grass is dying
to be crushed under you. The stars unseen
would give their last light to be in Arcadia,

too. There’s a suit of heat rising to clothe you
in sky blue, in dark clouds of thunderous now,
threatening from an unimaginable height.

Imagine it. The bee buzzing in your blood.
The longest longing day, stretching out to meet
your shadow amidst the shadows of the flood.

Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (The Operating System, 2014) and The Book of Thirteen (Yes Poetry, 2016). He teaches creative writing in the College Now program at Lehman College.