About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.

Karolina Zapal

Baby Buttface

Baby short for Baby Buttface rides the cis-Siberian railway         she’s maybe twenty-two-years-old usually makes it up on the spot and often asks in a crowd so which one of you artists will be designing my next tattoo? contracting anyone who dares to pay attention
       when Baby becomes involved with a home a feeling arises         the kind of feeling that festers at a wedding         a sprig of jealousy a pinch of gratitude a handful of reserve         all dependent on who gets involved with the feeling
       when Baby returns home        home breaks
into a whisper walk faster—the nest you’re meant to occupy is forever a step ahead she joins the birding association they give her binoculars        still she cannot see
anything fly         for Baby the feeling’s mutual
her subconscious vomits         what she has is not enough and what she can have is no more         the cis-Siberian does not cross anything rather un-crosses the letters t and x which when uncrossed become 1 and /
       when home returns to Baby it’s usually in a dream a literature a childhood state no one here cooks up a decent wage         Baby feels indifferent to possession         if something is inside of her is it possessing her or does she possess it         a room licks her fingers erotically throws a BDSM-themed party for every theme
       when Baby seeks home she is reminded of a light with a cord too short to reach the plug
what will it take to lengthen her name back to Buttface         across the street is a children’s home but she cannot reach it         the home itself doesn’t feel seeked because nothing can feel seeked until it’s found         fortunately a home if it’s a house will stand still        it’s her responsibility to found it
       when home seeks Baby it must rearrange the tracks to trans-         a gut feeling is just a gut job
a home with people already inside will not find Baby
Baby needs space for her fingernails to grow without skin from a body folding into their beds
       when Baby finds herself wanted she feels like an empty red tub inside a larger white tub filled with water         everything is dirty even the claw foot went for a walk on the railroad stopped when it came to perpendicularly-set tracks         Baby and home
        when a child becomes involved with a home it’s not a matter of what comes first         it’s a matter of if eggs can fly

I Customize My Mother on the Highway

I summarize (customize) my mother on the highway.
We are tired        staring at violet barcode.
An artist doesn’t have a dressing room. Stuffy words
I plan on opening the zipper.
Amethyst hardest intercom.

An artist portrays in a way we can’t understand.
Her profile becomes the only face I want to search
on the internet. A cheek of moonlight
on the road breaks off
in my eye. Amethyst rally ukulele custard.

English is my second
excuse for not engaging with the artist
but if I bet I can understand more than the average person…


what does that say about the artist?
What does that say about understanding
an average person?

Sting fish beaconed
discourse in ten gauges wifeist
Uzbekistan horror the verge unseen…

My eyelids swallow navy
fleeting gray. She blinks it away
brave-driving. An artist is a cactus caught inside a glass
with in-grown needles
growing anywhere but up.

The glass is caught inside the artist.
It spans the entire novel. Those who understand art
understand it’s a performance.

The paramedics come.

They complain about a mother
whom they continuously have to bandage.
I agree but
know what they mean but
she always says sorry.

Because sometimes, she still buys me tampons
for the artist to take an invisible step forward.

“Sukienka” is prettier than dress. Up to the throat
where it cuts off. Then there’s a crash
hair gets caught under a heel
and her understanding pops in.

Nothing is permanent in the exit row
not even flight.

Karolina Zapal is an itinerant poet, essayist, translator, and author of Polalka (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). Her second book, Notes for Mid-Birth, is forthcoming from Inside the Castle in late 2019. She is collaborating with the poet CA Conrad on translating their book, The Book of Frank, into Polish. Born in Poland and raised in the United States, she wonders about lost cities and impenetrable borders.

Marie Watt

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Artist’s Statement

My work draws from storytelling, proto-feminism, Indigenous teachings, and biography. It addresses the interaction of the arc of history with intimacy of memory. Blankets, one of my primary materials, are everyday objects that can carry extraordinary histories of use. In my tribe and other Indigenous communities, we give blankets away to honor those who are witness to important life events. In working with blankets, my process is both solitary and collaborative. Small works are personal meditations. Large works are often realized by community sewing circles: participants range from 3 to 93 in age, and no sewing experience is required. The intercultural fellowship around the table is as much a part of the work as the resulting artifact.

Marie Watt is a cross-disciplinary artist who makes Indigenous knowledge visible by drawing from obscured history, biography, Iroquois protofeminism, and Native Futurism. Her practice resides at the intersection of history, community and storytelling. Her site responsive work spurs individuals and communities to engage in dialogue surrounding their own histories and experiences of the world. These multi-generational, intercultural and cross-disciplinary conversations create a lens for understanding connectedness to place, one another, and the universe in its ancient and modern condition.

Kit Warren

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Artist’s Statement

This series plays with the overlap between a range of longstanding influences on my visual vocabulary: Indian miniatures, scientific imagery, musical notation and mapping.

Central forms suggest landmass, non-specific geographic shapes containing hundreds of brushed dots of gold acrylic and powdered pigment, the ground multiple layers of deep velvety color. While painting these dots, over time shapes form, figures emerge. I add more marks, figures disappear into their neighbors, and a larger shape appears. Depending on the angle of the lighting and the position of the viewer, the metallic paint shimmers like a scrim floating on the surface, concealing the underlying forms, or recedes into the surface color, revealing the marks more clearly.

The larger works function as externalized thinking–visual stories emerge and current events impinge on the painting, leaving indefinable traces. The smaller works are in some ways the children of the larger ones, products of their conceptual labor.

Kit Warren is a visual artist working in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a BFA from University of Pennsylvania, an MFA from School of Visual Arts, and a certificate in multi-media from NYU. Kit’s work has been exhibited internationally, and has recently been included in exhibits at PS 122, Park Place Gallery, The Cluster Gallery, LaBodega Gallery, SCOPE NY and The Painting Center. She has been awarded fellowships at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Saltonstall Foundation, and was a 2018 Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow. This summer she will be a Conception Arts Fellow at the Chateau Orquevaux Residency.

Mark Truscott

Plenum

Each time
a layer of air
peels away
to reveal another
behind it nearly
the same, a
pattern of light
and shadowed
masses silently
counts itself
right in front of me.
Its surface like
a surface of water,
vulnerable
to ripples,
real, now
momentarily
expressing its
potential for stillness.
My eye is
another liquid.
Its body glinting
in the light. My body
distributed among
the chair’s
inert and indifferent
curves. I am
inhabiting vision.
I am placing
word after word
before coating their
succession in
colours of interior
sound. Compelled
to discover
sense among these
layers, I know
I will forever fail
to complete their circuit.
I will fail
to read the poem.
But the air
is there to
breathe now.
And breath’s
final gesture is
diffusion.

Drift

What to say of
the subtle variations
of green? Their sense
serial, their impression
one. For I too
am varied colour.

What can it mean
that what is
has arisen already?
And then it will
change. A breeze
in the interval noted, now
remembered.

In our walk, the
drift. In the belief
I can plot steps
through the thicket.
In the medium that
slowly deepens as
I look the other way.

Of the Poem

And so we carve out this margin
and set our tokens down. Mine will wear
a hat (look). Strangely it will also use
these eyes. The air is already still
among the trees, which is to say it
moves imperceptibly and offers ingress
despite its vibrations. I know it there,
and yet I also keep it in mind.
We are people in the world and we are
speaking.

The edge is crisp because an edge is.
This is to say it counters our welling
and offers us a small concavity apart
from which to look. We push our
thoughts where we can see them.
We believe in a curve that flattens
the sun, that divides the scene
into colours we can describe to one another.
It too is that deceiving.

Rain

The chaos of rain
is the desperation
of a crowd hemmed in.
We can watch it
through the window.
We can see it
on the front page.
A drop on the eye
will give rise to a panic
that subsides the
instant we remember
time and space
have been hollowed out
for our shelter. An
image settled will do
this. For now
though the moment
is still music and
the world is meaningfully
peopled. And
the slow-beat ringing
continues for a time.

Mark Truscott is the author of three poetry books: Said Like Reeds or Things (Coach House, 2004), Nature (Book*hug, 2010), and Branches (Book*hug, 2018). Recent poems appear in The Walrus, Arc Poetry Magazine, and on the Cultural Society and Dusie “Tuesday poem” websites.

Barbara Tomash

Five poems from Her Scant State

—an erasure of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady
 
 

a smile of welcome        a zone of fine June weather
a territorial fact        native land        a character
a queer country across the sea        the rosebud in a buttonhole
these words of not perfect        loose thinker
fell in love with novel’s fancy phrase        in a windless place
I offer myself to you        light turned into exhalation
caught in a vast cage

————————————————————————————————
Her ambiguities composed all of the same flower. Fertile. Flourished. A fault of her own. It might feed her. Like a small hand. A kind of coercive. Not neglect. A negative, imaginatively, already existing. Her eyes prettiest. The day that I speak of. The short grass. A shorter undulation. A handful put into water—an image. “To bring you to this house.” Isabel listened to this.

 
 
 
 
 

a need        to be easily renounced
hampered at every        neither father        nor mother
poor and of a serious        not pretty        hundreds of miles of
“I’ll go home”        the masses of furniture        hid her face
in her arms        like the payment for a stamped receipt
aspiring murmur        a threat refused        three times
conceals from you        America diverted by a novel

————————————————————————————————
“A marriage,” said Isabel, “is not at all large.” In her lucidity, no light to spare.

 
 
 
 
 

a witness        not struck with       smooth woman
the fluttered flapping quality        of the sadness now settling
empty; but        no one invited her       not the least little child

————————————————————————————————
Meager synthesis, impossible dinner. Inviting “them”—as something so literal, stupid. To be honest as most people, equally honest, flattering herself. Irresistible need living in the upper air, up a steep staircase perpendicular to husband. Wishes as good as straps and buckles. Devoted evening—“I’ve never given anyone else a mistake as perfect.”

 
 
 
 
 

drifting

take care        heart        take care

do you know where you are drifting?

————————————————————————————————
Under the influence of to marry, hands laid on. “Lay them on yourself.” A woman thinks she may doubt time. It came over her in uttering. A wounded face expresses nothing. The master; the mistress.

 
 
 
 
 

ah, don’t say that
fresh        cheerful
facetious
the most charming        young
only proves        she wants
she wants        proposition
obliterated

————————————————————————————————
Her dresses, her falsehoods. “What do you mean by ‘people’?” “Servants whom you pay?” “They’re human beings.” “Are there any women?” “You can buy me off.” “Take care of me.” “I submit.” And this was the only conversation, unpleasantly perverse, like the stricken deer.

 
 
 
 
 

Her Scant State is a book-length erasure of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady. Entering James’s text as source material, I have, of course, been grappling with America, my native place, as a landscape carved by floods of competing ideologies including that of a hopeful, aspiring, and often violent capitalism. My inquiry focuses on women, but my point of view must shift in this novelized America made of many erasures. Perhaps home can never be described if a personal and aesthetic dislocation is not risked. In terms of the form on the page, the first half of The Portrait of a Lady runs across the top of each page of Her Scant State and the second half of the novel runs across the bottom of each page, beneath the line.
Barbara Tomash is the author of four books of poetry, PRE- (Black Radish Books 2018), Arboreal (Apogee 2014), Flying in Water, which won the 2005 Winnow First Poetry Award, and The Secret of White (Spuyten Duyvil 2009). An earlier version of PRE- was a finalist for the Colorado Prize and the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Web Conjunctions, New American Writing and numerous other journals.

Adam Tedesco

Les Blank

I said If you exist, cut from me the stone of distance
I said then cut me from this wall of my own web-work,
this feeding tube filled with sadness & seltzer, cocaethylene
dreams, sadness & Swiss omelets,
this Rickroll of numb gums & dumb love.

I stayed who I was as if I had an option.
I nursed my bag of maggots, learned to do laundry.
Forty one years bending the bar, biting the bar, my ear pressed to the bar.
Forty one years of Herzog thinking out loud
it was him that moved that ship through the mountains.
Cleared smoke & human patience reveal in my dream
commonness, a plate & glass, the tablecloth pulled.

Hot Coals

I have been awake for forty-three hours
moving from complex to strip mall
to escape the voices.

The person in front of me is shopping for a grill
to asphyxiate with. I’m looking for a photo
of my doppelganger falling down stairs.

the hot coals
the ring of snow
the sun behind a mountain

I heat the glass before I put it in my nose.
This could go one of two ways
but anything you try to understand owns you.

My father is all bound up in the haggard
Kodachrome of sleepless weeks.
People once called him fear.

The light you bend towards owns you.
Your lover’s point of view owns you.
The neighbor’s cat owns you.

the empty scale
the empty sky
the world before computers

My mother said it was a worthwhile investment,
the pills, that she didn’t teach me to live fuck to fuck.

She’s painting me a knife that never ends.

The room falls asleep and I wrap myself in a blanket.
I move to a broken chair in the courtyard.
Dawn breaks through a ring of snow around the desert.

To View the Middle as a Position of Dominance

First it is true

We more or less need others

And others, they need not us

In terms of a single pattern

The idea defined by dependency

Is how the notion of affect emerges

As a division between relations in hierarchy

Eventually in the course of accumulation

What remains of the vast spiral of nature is property

To weep is to ask what is in us

And still, it is true

Poet and video artist Adam Tedesco is a founding editor of REALITY BEACH, a journal of new poetics. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fanzine, Fence, Gramma, jubilat, Laurel Review and elsewhere. He is the author of several chapbooks, including Misrule, published by Ursus Americanus. His full-length poetry collection, Mary Oliver, was recently published by Lithic Press.

Maritta Tapanainen

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Artist’s Statement

The collages are intuitive accretions, built-up layers of intricately contoured cut paper fragments—fragments found sifting through outmoded textbooks, encyclopedias, technical manuals and the like. Lyric improvisations recontextualize the natural, biological world with scientific, mechanical elements evoking recognition while simultaneously remaining enigmatic. I began acquiring old, discarded volumes long before their possibilities unfolded attracted by the visual beauty and richness, the soft warmth of the patina, the fragility inherent of this arcane printed matter—its evocative obsolescence, qualities redolent of another age—an authenticity that I desire to preserve and channel. Selections are made with a practiced eye—informed by snatches of memory and meditations on the micro- macro cosmos—finding inspiration in antiquated print aberrations, engraved optical eccentricities, and odd, inartful renderings. All coalesce to imbue the work with a sense of immediacy, and detached timelessness.

Maritta Tapanainen was born in Finland, raised in Canada, has since lived in Europe, Central America, and in the harsh expansive beauty of the Mojave desert. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Her work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (mfa), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The International Collage Center (ICC), and many other venues, and has been presented at The ADAA Art Show, Palm Springs Fine, Art Fair, Houston Fine Art Fair, CA Boom–Dwell on Design, Pulse Art Fair, LA Art Show, and Works on Paper (Park Avenue Armory). She has twice received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, been highlighted in The Paris Review, and had solo shows reviewed by Artforum, The Los Angeles Times, and more.

hiromi suzuki

Eternal Relations

forest —–> 森 / Forest
river —–> 川 / River
rain —–> 雨 / Rain
umbrella —–> 傘 / Umbrella
town —–> 町 / Town
bird —–> 鳥 / Bird
people —–> 人 / People
tree —–> 木 / Tree
The Japanese language is comprised of Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana. Kanji are also Chinese characters, and the same Kanji may have different meanings, shapes, and pronunciations in Chinese and Japanese. In Eternal Relations, I use their Japanese versions. In a sense, Kanji are hieroglyphs. By using Kanji, we can draw every natural phenomenon and mental scene with one letter. It is itself visual poetry. In Japanese culture, the short poem known as haiku evokes nature and daily life. In the same way, by using kanji, I evoke the eternal loop between nature and time, their ‘eternal relations.’
hiromi suzuki is a poet and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried, 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (kisaragi publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018) and INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018). Her works are published internationally in Otoliths, BlazeVOX, Empty Mirror, Hotel, Burning House Press, DATABLEED, MOONCHILD MAGAZINE, talking about strawberries all of the time, Mookychick, Coldfront, RIC Journal, 3:AM Magazine, The Cerurove, A) GLIMPSE) OF), and so on.

Gary Sokolow

Sheepshead Bay Dives

It was roaming the quiet streets on
afternoons, watching the seagulls
in the bay water fight over a floating
half bagel, and passing out in a driveway
of some two family house, the
owner with his white socks off earning
a living, and it was 1987, and you
understand it was cheaper to be going
nowhere, no cell phones, no way to
bleed you dry or reach you, just you
and the streets of Brooklyn before
Brooklyn became Brooklyn again,
and yes, it was lonely. The family
already given up, hiding behind half-
lit candles and gossip, and a draft beer
was a $1.10 and the old bartender knew
you, threw you the first one free, wiped
clean the bar’s scarred old wood, told
you to stop wasting your life like the
others, for you were young, and thinking
back maybe I was simply crazy believing
I was stopping time, nursing a beer,
watching the haloes of cigarette smoke,
and there was an afternoon sun slicing
across the bar, shadows in the doorway
going about their lives, but nothing
mattered but to stand by the last
great jukebox, a quarter or two, and
Judy Garland was there singing to the
regulars, some memories, some aching,
the bartender down at the end, and the
glass, the thumb of cheap whiskey, evening.

The Darkness, the Knocking

Carlos Jobim’s water running
over pebbles rhythm streaming
over radio airways soothing
the pain that comes through
the words soothing the anger
that rises like inside a man
who’d rob a bank to get away
from his wife, and he was
married 50 years, lived on
Florida’s gulf coast, and
how crazy things always
seem to happen in Florida.
How as a kid it was Kissimmee,
the darkest clouds I’d ever
seen, rain drowning everything,
and the ground bone dry an
hour later, water like a memory
fading, yet how the shadows
stay, like the outline of
the names of the builders
on the ovens of Auschwitz,
or the footprints of the
Chinese poet banished for
the truths about businessmen,
and here we are again, this
collective failing, a planet
boiling, how frighteningly
beautiful those words
about the slouching and
the beast, another matter
when it is at the door.

Hope as a Form of Time

Was her singing like a bird or
was it she squat, chanting like
in prayer that shakes a memory.
The ghosts know better, and
still you’re the one who needs
the reminding, bracelet tight
around your ankle, a door
that shuts, and that’s the way,
two pills, a soft tethering of a
nurse, a want there is to make
it kinder, the thirteen billion
light years that would take.

Gary Sokolow received his MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College. Recently, his poems have appeared in Salamander, Third Wednesday, Nixes Mate Review, and Hollow Tongue Review, and are forthcoming in 2Bridges Review.

F. Daniel Rzicznek

from Leafmold

Sweeping the boards again and again. The transition from sunburn to windburn to chill is openly flawed, twelve hours of shift and phase, rattle and quake. A bird in the distance makes a sound like flint being sparked. A part of home: freezer full of future bones. Scott arrives with a care package from the mainland: fresh ice, hard cider, venison sausage. More than anything you learn that gratitude must be endless if you want to survive. A discussion of streams and lakes, bloodtrails, near misses, wolf tracks overwhelming the deeryards, interrupted every so often by the stout tug of a lake trout on a downrigged line. Get that fucker, Scott says, every single time. Later: trouble with the bugs, trouble with thirst, trouble with desire. Cloudy. No moon or stars. No recourse but to sleep in, late and long, without guilt or need for pardon. Every hour seems to move more swiftly than the last, the whole year accelerating as a form of reversed atrophy. Bloom is not the word. Alone with too many thoughts, the brain finds an exterior narrative to bathe in. Red cliffs. No whitecaps. Henrik Ibsen rolls up his sleeves and does the dishes. Dusk falls through his vision for a final time. Accidentally, like a leper. The season puts white on the pines but inside them: always green, always green.

from Leafmold

Wet garlic: five heads set out to dry on a stone in the sun. Learning and relearning how to do just one task at a time, the brain breaks apart, reconfigures and appears the same but what it does is different. Sweeping the boards for the first time. Ants, periodically. Two towels, rust-orange and aquamarine, flap on the clothesline: capes worn by invisible spirits, maybe your guardians, your watchers. Left it on the mainland. That certain noise: noise of certainty. Have to do this again and again to find that. How many more ways to say it. No one knows who you are. But here you are, trying to imagine every fly of morning settling on the self before moving. Easy to mistake the hard croaks of red-breasted mergansers for faraway hammering. A childhood of death: in your dream you rip the bully’s eyes right out and eat them. No trusting the scared-shitless face inside the self after all. Brackets indicate static. Windfall as artifact of storm. Once accustomed, you don’t even look up. But you must. Trouble with the stove, trouble with the kettle. No trouble with the full moon. Just questions about that expression it’s worn for billions of years.

from Leafmold

The self was careful today not to spook the big gull standing over last night’s fish carcass. Interruption as desecration—for no reason at all, the obnoxious Van Halen song in your head all morning. And suddenly it’s afternoon. After a good nap you find the carcass not gone but moved, dragged lower between the boulders, hidden for later. A white tug with red letters you can’t read pumps by trailing a pack of gulls. The clouds track northeast as you boil water to wash towels. There was a planet you once lived on and its pieces and names stick like wet leaves to your hours and days: an arm broken in two places when you were five and how you thought the doctor was laughing as he reset it; even younger, you imagined God as a man in a dark hat snapping his fingers; before that, unshakeable distrusts of bees and balloons. And the names: Normandy, Brunswick, Evamere, Mosquito, Killbuck, Limestone, Silver Meadows, Herrick, Geauga, Captiva, Merry, Pickerel Creek, Wallace. Always some faceless anxiety cruising through memory. Always the self moving out of sight at the sound of its approach.

F. Daniel Rzicznek’s books of poetry are Settlers (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press), and he is coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). His recent poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, West Branch, Blackbird, and Colorado Review. He teaches at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.