About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of nine books and chapbooks, including Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her tenth book, Zoom, was awarded the Washington Prize and will be published in 2018. 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.

Millicent Young

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Artist’s Statement

Art and Earth define us as human beings. The rupture of connection with either renders us senseless and therefore only brutal. The language of art is sensual. It can stir the heart. It can bypass rational, linear processes. Art can be a transformer. The idea that imagination begets empathy and is awakened by the senses has shaped all that I have attempted as a citizen artist.

Through my work, I am interested in building a vocabulary that will one day tell a new story: a new mythology that restores mystery, beauty, silence, and imagination as central to our co-existence. My visual language favors archetype and allusion. Like dreams, it is a code simultaneously familiar, layered, and elusive. The Koan, a Buddhist teaching tool that takes the form of a paradoxical question, is another model for my work. Insight follows contemplation and the willingness to lose what one knows.

The materials I use are both substance and symbol. As substance they are ordinary, simple, and sometimes found yet within them, there is beauty. As symbols, they do not comfortably stand for one thing. On the scent of something large, they dodge the straight line of equation. The exacting repetitive gestures associated with the crafting of much of my work make the process a meditation; however, the parallel thought flow, or its absence, that accompanies these gestures also infuses the work.

The record of time is evident though silent in my work. Slowly taking form through accretion, thousands of horsehairs are individually threaded through hundreds of holes drilled in vines or tiny dowels. In the White Luminous Room, each of the 1500 ten foot long strands are made by tying and gluing tiny bundles of hair to a long thread. The liquidity of plaster is recorded in its hard celestial surface. The flow of ink is remembered by the contraction of the washi paper in the drying. Every ring of ink on each of the 80 hammered lead pans is a record of the evaporation of that single pool — concentrated, diluted, rinsed, repeated — until the right mark is made.

The Anthropocene is now — the first epoch defined by the impact of one species — ours — on the planet and all the systems that have spawned and supported what we have named “life.” The Cantos are my witness and meditations on now.

Millicent Young was born in New York City in 1958 and attended Dalton School. Shortly after receiving her MFA from James Madison University, she received her first of two Professional Fellowship Awards from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Exhibiting widely, her work has been recognized by curators and directors from institutions including DIA, New Museum, and Whitney Museum. Young’s work received a top award at the 2005 Biennale in Florence, Italy. Her upcoming solo at Les Yeux du Monde in Virginia is Cantos for the Anthropocene. She resides in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Nicolette Wong & David Heg

The Classroom

You have left for tomorrow
like the rhythm of rust

reverberating through
the blinds—darting,

gasping, fleeing the day
we pressed our hearts

against the glitter
of wisdom, our being

choked on a voiceless
command—be still,

be pliant, be the words
translucent as dust.

 

The Waiting Room

It must be rain inside the walls. The rain of a child’s cries, a red swing against the grey sweetness of sky. A hollow to stifle, rocking in the cold front. Of ciphers discarded on the doorsteps, lips bleeding into porcelain shards to let live. Come back, come back, to the call of faceless drinkers pleading for histories, in a room of dust singed by erasure. For I will wait, I will wait to touch their voices, punctured by rain.

Nicolette Wong is the editor in chief of A-Minor Magazine & Press. Her writing has appeared in Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, Escape Into Life, Thrush Poetry Journal and other venues.
David Heg is a photographer and educator currently manifesting in the wooded hills of eastern CT. His work has appeared on the cover of Nicolette Wong’s poetry chapbook, Stone Bride Madrigals, and the online zines, Negative Suck, Dark Chaos, A-Minor Magazine, Revolution John and Otoliths.

Grey Vild

We, finally

capture the yoke that unlocks the cathedral. I’m not honey, I’m a gag in the. Carnal, carnival sun-drenched, scavenged throat of worship. What idols we placed there are not golden. What idols we placed there can only be flesh. What idols we placed there refuse to be flesh. Aren’t the great Jonas-bellied rafters far too much like the scaffolding over the train I’m still outscreaming, across & cross the river, hoarse as the fastly pinkening expanse you can’t hear now, but feel like a soundless thunder rumbling a dry sky.

They refuse to be flesh

Cross the river & my chest, four-pointed star that will not regenerate. It means nothing, it means less than. What god have you found worth believing, you: who believed. & where our hungers met: fields within fields burn, houses within houses. The paint at the windows curls until a landscape, collapsed. My jaw, singed, stark at the chorus & I wouldn’t let them scrub the char away. This is my face now. Chalk screeching down a bald board, mouth melded to mouth melded to—

& you should have to look at it, but you don’t. 

& I had to use a hacksaw to unclench my fist

& the rain streaked the ash down my neck until I was so stark, so far from recognition, I could only be beautiful, (finally.) until I was lit up like a cockeyed skyline & if I told you the rain doesn’t get inside anymore I would be lying but the truth is we enjoyed lying to each other very much but the truth is I won’t let anyone pour you from me & I ate the pale bells stem first, to swallow the silence we peeled back from the idols that had us nearly convinced they are not flesh, from the idols that don’t get to refuse but they do, baby, that’s all that they do.

The wirelike toothless blade

any addiction favors, honed a tongue singular as any such debasement. Such as, we fled my father swearing at the tv, the howling all around us made certain people stop touching us at a young age certain people start at a younger & all along we thought the sky was supposed to be that green. Such as I gargle yellow number 6 until I’m foaming at the first memory I have in a fit of drag & if you’ll just be happy now I swear to the god that doesn’t live inside my head, I would pull you back here, through the night so barbed with vision as the day, through the day unseen as the howling no one hears or, we lie & lie & lie, pulling green from the roots, all the way back to—                                            just to do it myself.

Grey Vild is a Queer Art Mentorship & Brooklyn Poets fellow & a MFA candidate in poetry at Rutgers University. His work can be found at Them, Vetch, Harriet: The Blog and elsewhere.

J.T. Townley

Dead Cat Bounce

I. Scalability

A: Do you have any metrics?

Q: Centimeters, meters, kilometers?

A: We need predictive analytics. Analytics of performance quality. Big Data.

Q: Centi means hundred. Kilo means thousand.

A: Hedgistan, this is not.

Q: Meters, grams, liters. Teacher says just move the decimal.

A: We need documents to look at. Where are the documents? Documents, we can look at.

Q: Here’s my math homework. Plus, my report card comes out Friday for you to sign. Straight A’s!

A: The possibility of scalability needs to be analyzed and adjusted for.

Q: To measure how big is my new allowance?

A: The easy money has been made.

Q: That means no?

A: There’s lots of cash on the sidelines.

Q: That means yes?

A: In this market, you can’t take the short view. Too volatile.

Q: So…?

A: Get me the numbers, and I’ll take it under advisement.

 

II. Iteration

Q: So can I?

A: Dead cat bounce.

Q: But isn’t Mommy allergic?

A: Have you considered the social impact?

Q: Puppy = happy!

A: What about the impact factor?

Q: Happy = puppy!

A: Clean Tech is the answer.

Q: That’s why I’ll wash her and brush her and trim her dewclaws.

A: When would you iterate, in the hypothetical?

Q: Rate what?

A: What the iteration would produce must be taken into consideration.

Q: I’ll name her Grace!

A: Enough thought experiments. We need thought leaders!

Q: So, yes?

A: This discussion is now tabled.

Q: So, no?

A: Final outcome TBD.

 

III. Rapid Prototyping

A: Check your API. It’s time to pivot to a new market.

Q: Why do you have to make everything so difficult?

A: How that interfaces will need to be considered.

Q: It’s not that hard. Just take the keys out of your pocket and hand them to me. I’ll drive away into my actual life and leave you to diddle your market shares. End of story.

A: The intangibles are important.

Q: I know, not a scratch.

A: The double bottom line.

Q: Okay, alright, I’ll bring it back with a full tank.

A: Personal branding.

Q: I’ll get it washed and waxed, too, if that’s what you’re driving at.

A: We need an innovation incubator. Incubating innovation. Innovations will need to be incubated.

Q: What does that even mean?

A: Rapid prototyping.

Q: Why do you always have to make everything so complicated?

A: People once spoke by the same token of the Internet of Things. Now, not so. It’s our digital cocoon. We’re all enmeshed in a web of wired. Also, wireless. It’s how we’re hard-wired. Only connect.

Q: Never mind.

A: F.M. Forrester was way behind his timing.

Q: Forget it. I’ll bum a ride.

A: Everything’s already connected.

Q: Better yet, I’ll hitchhike.

A: The Butterfly Effect must be adumbrated.

Q: Look for me on the six o’clock news.

 

IV. Alligator Spread

Q: Why won’t you give the girls a straight answer?

A: The long game must be played.

Q: About anything?

A: A bottoming process is being experienced.

Q: Don’t give me that.

A: A wait-and-see approach is necessitated.

Q: Then you’ve lost interest in alligator spread?

A: Your inquiry will be discussed at the next meeting of the entire board, pending addition of said item to the official agenda.

Q: You prefer to spend your nights with the gnomes of Zurich?

A: Is this the short squeeze?

Q: Consider it a godfather offer.

A: You’re after more baby bonds?

Q: Whatever the market will bear.

A: Let’s remain cautiously optimistic.

Q: You. In a corner. Over a barrel.

A: Constructive on the market.

Q: By the short and curlies.

A: It’s a simple matter of triage.

Q: You know it, and I know it, and you know I know it.

A: Priorities must be determined.

Q: It is recommended that the board approve all pending recommendations.

A: That’s a sexy idea.

Q: Because switches might start flipping.

A: Flippage?

Q: It could go either way. On the one hand, there’s one way it could go—the way you’d prefer. But then again, on the other, there’s the other. Which you wouldn’t.

A: The short squeeze!

Q: So I strongly suggest that you take this matter under special advisement.

A: Alligator spread?

Q: Discussion TBC pending approval of outstanding requests.

J.T. Townley has published in Harvard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Threepenny Review, and other magazines and journals. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an MPhil in English from Oxford University, and he teaches at the University of Virginia.

Barbara Tomash

from PRE-

[trans-]

by nuclear bombardment to pass down to others
shorthand notes / their amplitude / but diffusing it as in hearing aids
as in very small radios / the supposed passing of the soul

operating outside of the self to make permeate / hence spiritual
intuition / as a kind of theodolite / an emigrant passing through the field
of a telescope or through a mouthpiece

to transmit by the characters of another alphabet or by automatic
relay / a passing modulation / originally a minute electronic device / a
temporary lodger / and by extension the soul

leaping from its horizontal transverse axis
into a remote key

[trans-]

originally without death / as to change from one bus, streetcar etc. to another
a startling change / distinguished from rotation / said of the soul across the disk
of the sun / said of currents on the other side of the sea / to pass into another body
from the engine to the wheels / trans, over, across + spirare, to breathe / flowing
across through a reproduction of / window glass / the pores of the skin /
the surface of leaves / so fine in texture

[trans-]

as a seedling
when light shines through it
the process of thought rather than the objects of sense experience
to pierce with something pointed
the accidents of bread and wine
repressed impulses
crossing from side to side
as a convict sentenced to transportation
the speed of sound in air

[ex-]

as well as : persons subjected to depriving : to utter sharply :
that is true : to wear off the skin : scathingly :

[syn-]

to begin (a tone) : having the same curvature in all directions : to shorten (a word) : to overlap the chamfered edges of a neighboring vibrating body : in pity or compassion : meaning each whorl of leaves : to receive together with large fragrant clusters : white, pink, red, purplish or bluish flowers : in this dictionary : a fold of stratified rock

The poems in PRE- spin out from dictionary definitions for words beginning with particular English prefixes. All the language is found — but fractured and juxtaposed with a free-hand, freewheeling approach. I am working instinctually and with a method that is perhaps more common in the visual arts. I lay out the materials I have gathered — in this case words and phrases from the dictionary — and examine them disassociated from their source — then, in a process of trial and error, I begin creating an assemblage out of them. The assemblage is the poem.
Barbara Tomash is the author of three books of poetry, Arboreal (Apogee 2014), Flying in Water, which won the 2005 Winnow First Poetry Award, and The Secret of White (Spuyten Duyvil 2009). Her manuscript PRE- was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Black Radish Press (2018). Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, New American Writing, VOLT, Bateau Press, Verse, Jacket, OmniVerse, ZYZZYVA, Third Coast, Witness and numerous other journals. She lives in Berkeley, California and teaches in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.

Sarah Stengle & Eva Mantell

from Pages from the Frozen Sea

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Artists’ Statement

The “pages” in Pages from the Frozen Sea are photographs of ordinary objects or materials suspended in ice, or artworks made by working with ice. This collaborative project is a celebration of the beauty and constantly changing nature of ice, and embraces an experimental, process-oriented approach to art-making. The project was inspired by a quote from Franz Kafka: “A book must be an axe for the frozen sea within us.” The images selected were done during the winter of 2017. The project will continue during the winter of 2018: it requires cold weather. This year Sarah Stengle and Eva Mantel hope to extend the scope of the project by inviting other artists to also contribute pages. The project can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.

Sarah Stengle lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is a book artist and sculptor. She is represented by Central Booking Gallery in New York City, and her work is included in many collections including the Chicago Art Institute, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Morgan Library. She is interested in inter-disciplinary art and has collaborated with mathematicians and writers on art projects. Her most recently completed collaboration was with author Michael Joseph and was featured at VISPO: Visual Poetry, a traveling exhibit that originated in Aachen Germany, September, 2016 and concluded in Bergau, Germany in May, 2017.
Eva Mantell lives in Princeton, NJ and has exhibited her sculpture, painting and video at the Monmouth Museum, the Hunterdon Museum, the Bernstein Gallery at Princeton University, the Abington Art Center, the Jersey City Museum and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. She has a BA from Penn and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. She curates, teaches and speaks about art including the recent Art as Activism, at the exhibit Fight or Flight at The Painting Center, NYC. She has a special interest in arts engagement and community outreach and her teaching has been included in Designing and Delivering Arts Programs for Older Adult Learners, published by the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington, DC.

Peter Leight

Needlework

Embroidery is a form of needlework,

leaning over the needle pretty much the way you hold a kitten against your body with your shoulders rounded

and kitty disguised as needlework

on top of the foundation fabric,

overlaid, like a gift you give yourself when you don’t have anything else to give.

Pulling out where you push in —

personally I think it’s often better to say yes to yourself

in order to avoid disappointing yourself.

Sewing on the cross stitches and stars like asterisks reminding you there’s another point that needs to be considered,

somebody pointed this out,

I think she has a point,

believe me,

there’s a stitch in every glitch,

I don’t know what your problem is.

It’s not the kind of accident where help is on the way —

sometimes you disguise yourself as kitty

with a wet nose and sweet sweet face,

a smile applied to kitty’s face using a technique of application and removal, as when you cut along the edge

and lift out the whole pane.

I have a blue box of Q-tips and some Kleenex in case there’s an orifice that needs to be swabbed,

I’m checking in with myself,

how do you feel,

fine,

what does it feel like now,

it’s a species of the larger problem how to make it happen

sometimes I think it is one of those elements that takes forever to heat up but when it’s really hot starts to burn,

giving off a lot of heat,

I didn’t even notice this until somebody pointed it out to me,

I think she has a point.

I’m not saying I’m asymptomatic,

not at the moment,

staying on top of the fabric

as promised,

it’s starting to move the needle,

I think I’m turning the corner, as when you face forward in order to see yourself in front of you disguised as kitty,

it’s hard to remove a disguise

you’re not even wearing.

Wall

It is a great wall, extending from one end to the other and in all the places in between—it could be anywhere. We’re not thinking it’s somewhere else. Not wrapped up or blending in, uncovered or unshaded like a book that is open to every page—compared to this everything is a secret. A wall without corners, without meeting other walls, not joining others—you can’t move in or enter into the wall, or use the wall to create an interior. Left to right and right to left, the same both ways. A great wall, without a single gap—all the same the wall is worrying: is it enough? Is it really helping? Or is it an episode that ends when everybody knows what’s going to happen? A loyal wall, keeping the others out, putting some on this side and some on that side, some in and others out—sometimes I think it is better to be defenseless, the danger is you fill yourself up with the resistance you develop. We often stand near the wall thinking about what it is like on the other side, separated from us, unable to touch the other side of the wall. Not budging, not even a small amount, there’s no need to change—all the same the wall is worrying, is this the only way? Will it always be like this? Or is this an episode that ends when everybody stops watching?

Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, FIELD, and other magazines.

Caroline Knapp

from The Hunters Enter the Wood

The Hunters Enter the Wood

A long beginning underway. Each
strand and devise has anterior
knots. We enter the picture
as if there were a
way through as if there

were a picture. A certain
false insistence pleases us. We
cite a quality of rhyme
in sheen and run our
hands along the passageways. Shadow

shuttles color pieces. The seen
shifts in its sleep. A
bird may flit between stories.
Some mornings it is enough
to say may. By night

we grow morose. One calls
in fretted threads over a
cupped gap. Single single. The
hollow hull of may slapping
wind-raised waves. If

a hunter stands and hears
only shuttle sounds from the
high branches and wind in
swayed cords this too is
the work of the wood.

The Hunters Enter the Wood (Detail)

The space that opens
behind the flowers is
the field. The hunters
wade into the text
and vanish. A night-journey.

In the invisible that
shows like stars, wool
and crewel as make
its lack of appearance
its resource. A tremble

in the darker ground.
A well, a ditch,
the margins a blind
conduit I fell into
following with spears and

thread lives in hiding.
In rupture, detour. Back
of the text a
silver aquifer silent in
moon light every delved

flower is a syllable.
The plumed cap, the
chased velvet frond. The
dew quivers the dog
lays back its ears.

The Hunters

Count the seed heads threaded
on pith of song. Woodpecker’s
hollow joint one one. I
wake at dawn have lost
the nubbed loop the count.

What one is is too
much to know. A head
turned in sleep. I measure
allowance again, rich hem. There’s
a ditch beside song where

quiet gathers. The under story.
Brush descant traveling the distances.
When shall I cease to
rove. Roam. Rive. Each edged
leap sets a light in

selvage. The grasses are embellished.
Scalloped heads of ferns. Fog
accomplishes the margins. One. One.
None.
In silence some salvage,
a fixed and savage song.

from Tanzsprachen

*

 

navigation by lineaments

cast on

least traced air a sign

shaped

of sound by whose

means

a bee’s black shadow

inks the page

 

*                      *

 

*

 

I wished then to find you

a coat against cold winds. speech is

 

a sign that everywhere is and is

not sufficient.

 

the bell’s note makes

an inside an outside.

 

it speaks through partials

a singing whole and insufficient.

 

a net.

all this thinking through want.

 

I was afraid you would look

and find me gone.

 

I do a willing that

like despair is lost track of.

 

a bell may be struck from the outside by a hammer

or chimed from the inside by a tongue.

 

it vibrates across its whole length.

 

*                        *

 

*

 

on the combed page                        honey advances

lines that tell the

sun of                        the eye

cast of sky                        at which she looks

turning around

after they have returned home they also dance

 

*                        *

Caroline Knapp is the author of Facture (2015), The Hunters Enter the Wood (forthcoming 2018), and Tanzsprachen (forthcoming 2018), all chapbooks in the Little Red Leaves Textile Series. Her poems have appeared in Jubilat, CutBank, Verse Daily, KelseySt.com, and Opon. She lives in Oakland.

Brece Honeycutt

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Artist’s Statement

My studio is both outside & inside. As I walk outward to soak in the place, to trod the fields and forests, my pockets fill with the landscape’s treasures — birch bark with its dots and dashes, unfurling hornet’s nests, fallen flowers & leaves, cast off feathers; at the same time, my mind undertakes the cataloguing of the daily changes — freshly sprouted spring ephemerals, the autumn return of the junco, the mint filled with feasting honeybees. Later, these findings and sitings become marks on both paper and cloth and imbue the interior with the spirit of the exterior. The acts of dyeing and stitching bring me back to the glimpsed lichen on the tree, the lines on the birch bark, the frozen ice on the pond and the sounds of the birds in the trees.

“Our eyes see what is outside in the landscape in the form of words on paper but inside, a slash or mark wells up from a deeper place where music before counting hails from.” Susan Howe, Debths (New Directions, 2017)

Brece Honeycutt makes nature-based and history-based drawings, sculptures and installations. Her installations have been placed in university campuses, historic houses, inner-city parks, office buildings, libraries, urban markets and galleries. She collaborates with artists, students, historians, gardeners, poets, and dancers. She documents living “on a colonial farm” in her blog, often contrasting the contemporary with the colonial. Honeycutt holds a B.A. in Art History from Skidmore College and an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Columbia University. In 2017, she had a solo exhibition, bewilder at Norte Maar (Brooklyn, NY), accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by the art historian Anne Swartz. She exhibits in galleries and museums both nationally and internationally, and her work resides in museums and household collections.

Barbara Henning

from DIGIGRAMS

Feb 24, 2016

—yesterday in the 20’s—stinging air—on skin and in lungs—today 50 degrees—and raining—a lanky guy comes into class—wearing earmuffs—making air quotes with his fingers—the word “safe”—slowly turning the page—his fingers relaxed—hands resemble—my former lover’s—I leave the room—cough—a young man in the hallway—hello—must have been—my student—some time before—at 9 pm the storm thins—brownish fog—in the gothic LIU garage—weird weather—the outlook for 2016—gloomy—German business leaders urge Russians—uphold a cease-fire—in the Ukraine—all agree—it’s going to stay warm now—walking home—on Avenue A—a man asks—do you want cocaine—

Feb 25, 2016

—a full moon—wake up late—open my mail—a check—damp and cold—on Avenue B—the way to the credit union—an american flag strikes the flag pole—news from outside the windshield—an archbishop guides parishioners—catholic-leaning alternatives—for girl scout cookies—during the crusades—thousands of children marched to their death—children crowding—into the earth school—cut the ball back to Müller—guide it seamlessly along the ground—coughing—lose control of the car—slam it into the cement guide—along the ramp—in the gothic parking garage—all bully university did for the man—was ruin his credit—

May 9, 2016

—pick up the inmate—in the woods—off the Garden State—a week on the run—70 something—too warm—traffic dense—biking in a cloud of smoke—yell at uber—big black cars—the air thick—watch a man in the park—big black boots—white wrinkled pants—trouble walking—lifting his knees—one at a time—as if with a pulley—3 hours sleep last night—must drive a cab 12 hours—to get by—you’re killing yourself—with eyes closed—at St Marks—the podium poet—whisks it up—stiff peaks form—Don Yorty takes a swig—of vodka—then the chatty—New York school—backwards—and sideways—out the door—we go—at 2nd Ave and 10th Street—

Aug 1, 2016

—truth and lies viral—rampant hatred—an American man dumps—boiling water—on two sleeping men—a curfew to quell rioting—after a police shooting—if only—as simple as—a belief—in ancestors—in Madagascar—to wear red—at the waterfront—you may incite—an ancestor’s wrath—naked under a sheet at 1 a.m.—in Marquette Michigan—the night so quiet—the trees still—no movement—a slight ringing—in the mind—we can squash Mr. Bully—we can we can—dear mother—dear grandmother—please—send qi—outside a high pitched ringing—between the rising wind—and a chorus of crickets—all other animals—in this house—are sound asleep—

Oct 26, 2016

—when surfing in 28 degree water—or stuck in traffic—for 63 hours a year—your brain freezes—your chin gets stiff—no angry mobs in Tehran—shouting “Death to America”— No McDonald’s in Tehran—instead, a homegrown Mash Donald——dreaming—of a woman with blonde hair—chin length—at a restaurant table—with a younger dejected bully—hey, don’t worry—she says looking down at him—I’ll let you see em later—he drops his head—a sad puppy—so sad—so horrible—when the phone rings—we all wake up—to headlines with his name—oh no—and they’re just not true—he says—everyone must love me—digital twitter talk—can’t be recaptured—and you can’t bury it—it’s out there—scattered in air, on land, at sea—North Africa to Europe—Seawatch reports—2400 migrants rescued—four children dead—

June 8, 2017

—on 12th Street—the refrigerator—whines and shudders—in a redbrick Quaker meeting house—in Denver—undocumented humans hide—the cortisol rising higher—a judge in Virginia—declares—the Supreme Court will surely shudder—the bully sends a tweet—Kim Jong-un sends a missile into the Sea of Japan—the doors to the bodega open—the heart of a fruit fly—beating at the same pace—as humans—up the hill to 12th Street—a group of men—smoking and talking—Hola—we nod—one to the other—

In 2016, I bought a collection of writing and art by the dadaist, Elsa Von Freytag-Lorenhaven, also known as the Baroness: Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven, edited by Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011). I pored over this book, laughing at the way she took William Carlos Williams to task (old observations minted wisdom). She was the ultimate beat/punk artist, scoffing at bourgeois society. Reading her poems, I thought to myself — they are like ecliptic telegrams to the world — pieces of consciousness—streaming—piece by piece. At the time I was collecting poetic material from my journals, arranging, rearranging and collaging in news from the days before and around. Meanwhile I felt desperate — as did many others — about the political situation unfolding in the country. The bully was not yet elected, but the hate on mainstream media was shocking. Then he won the election — how horrifying. Greed, wealth, ignorance and hate arm-in-arm. As I read the Baroness, I picked up her rhythms and started translating my poems into ecliptic messages. I’m nowhere near as anti-establishment or as abrasive as the Baroness, but her rhythms and her streaming appealed to me. These are “Digigrams,” messages to the world from this particular consciousness, at this particular point in space and time, translated digitally, from me to you.

Barbara Henning is the author of three novels and several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015), A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, she presently lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University.