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.

Amy Strauss Friedman

Always Visible, Almost Forgotten

(Microscopium Constellation—Microscope)

Pitched and small, petri-dished and
begging for the glitter of discovery,

you endured as gray-pink speckles
against a sea of burnished dye
sufficiently rusted to waste your heart.

I diagnose you a cancer, the scientific
equivalent of pinned wrists in a burning barn.

You survive briefly as metaphor for the aftermath
of other women’s pain, but are spared
the embarrassment of the racket of Forgiveness.

There’s little time until the holidays,
little hope you’ll see the new moon.
The wretched world will rush to give up on you.

My woman’s ear will measure your fading pulse
as catalogue of every wisp of the underworld.
Flutter will turn to flat line. A city undone.

I’ll appropriate your ashes for charcoal,
steady my brush, and scribble your essence
beneath my eyelids. Then step out

into the fractured world
more alive than all our flowers
budding at the threshold of spring.

Recognition

(Lacerta Constellation—Lizard)

evolution judges us by the number of skull
holes behind our eyes, quadrupedal
and fork-tongued in this miasma;
we retreat as a turtle’s head,
make small meals of insects

camouflaged in dermal scales,
overlapping plates of keratin
molting to dispose of our parasites.
let us consume shed skin, devour
our pasts to reveal a tomorrow

we’ve too often been told is impossible.
fear of living small ablates us;
existence only works through acknowledgement.
protection and self-interest halt all momentum,
the reason for the regeneration of our skin.

Left Behind

(Vela Constellation—Sails of Argo Navis)

A single mast documents the absence
of the other two, a silent nostalgia
swallowed in the thick-fingered notes

of amends. For there’s no particular rooting interest
in solidarity. In loneliness so low and lovely
that flowers hide their faces in the dim distance.

So, behold my grave of nail heads. Barrel-empty,
thrumming regardless. Ambition drives neglect.
Strips the spine-smooth heart to rupture.

Don’t Dare Say Unglued; Say Savvy

(Ursa Major Constellation—Big Bear)

Hierarchy demands punishment of the lesser;
I have no choice but to mete it out
just as it’s done to me.

Once, a star threatened explosion
just to coat me in darkness. A suicide
intended as homicide.

A lover wrapped in the falling
away. A fascicle of storms and thorns
marking the sky like nail holes in wood.

Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the poetry collection The Eggshell Skull Rule (Kelsay Books, 2018), and the chapbook Gathered Bones are Known to Wander (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). Amy’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and her work has appeared in Pleiades, Rust + Moth, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her work can be found at amystraussfriedman.com.

Alexandra Egan

Chronologically

I wore his suit to the wake
slept face down on his pillow
was given ashes in a ziploc bag.

I put bones in my mouth
which is not a metaphor for something less animal.
I stuck my hand in and pulled out two pieces
the size of marbles
I put them on my tongue and nothing happened
and they tasted
like my mouth was empty.

That was my first death,
but later I was not less savage.
I mourned each
opulently
ragged tripping over myself.
I cried and was ugly with it,
black smears under my eyes
lids swollen
black dress and matted hair
at the memorials.

There were a lot of them.
and each time I learned nothing,
was selfish
maudlin.
One boyfriend shot himself in the head
over money
because
life is trashy cheap
worthless.
Long or short,
it’s nothing.

Don climbed the Williamsburg bridge and jumped into traffic.
The next day in the newspaper:
a police officer standing by
a body under a sheet, one foot visible.

It’s nothing.
One summer your oldest friend dies sick
from drinking
and you become a terrible asshole,
a real piece of shit.
Why not?

Every condolence pure scam:
He does not live on in my heart
and please
don’t fuck around with a fuck-around.

Death is a hole burnt in something silk
and singed black at the edges;
it is the blank that makes the name a lie,
a hieroglyph that represents nothing.
Writing it is forgery.

When you drop a lit match,
it goes out.
That’s all that happens.

Don’t grab my hand.
Don’t tap your foot like that.

A Very Short Introduction

In a dream Jodorowsky tells me
love dances in the lap of war.
If there was more, I forgot it.

Curriculum:
Read Jung
bathe in icy water
say my tongue is an eel
laugh in strangers’ faces           ( joy isn’t rude)
imagine you kill everyone you love
and feel no guilt
nibble paper and sit calmly in the living room
leave the lights off

Be wanton, if you like
swallow and catalogue holy
indifferent smile
cold
like something god did.

Never mind that these are tricks
relax,
theater is a cheat but the tears are real.

Progress is:
Know that you will die
and marvel
as you would at anything perfect and tiny
you can crush with your hands.

If I say I want to die
I only mean
like a matryoshka
each split doll
opens on another
shinier less useless
deathless.

Eat yourself.
become shit
sweet and new.

Later, I dream a tiger eats me
and I dream what the tiger dreams.

Apriling

Hello piss yellow sky.

Spring summer doesn’t come,
the season stays cold
as gangsters
dirty rain
tough as kindergarten.

The apartment tightens around
my galley kitchen my telephone my cactus plant
my galley kitchen my dirty stove my movie projector
my pasta pot my featherbed my porcelain cup
my butter dish my attic stairs
my sugar dish my bannister my income taxes
my slip-on shoes his electric shaver
my toothbrush holder my percolator my orange cat my my my

When you burn something the ash is soft
like thank you.

I wait for heat
honey pear peach plum
his hand
my hair
his ruin
his thumb
my mouth
my tongue
my June
my mud
my stink
my love

all distant.

Alexandra Egan is a NYC-based writer and set designer. She divides her time between Bed Stuy and the Catskills where she strives to follow Henry Miller’s advice to write calmly, joyously, recklessly. Current projects include digging a pond and critical essays on rap lyrics.

Joel Chace

from Times Rhyme

Saccadic

 
They cannot help imagining that Socrates was making

his mouth into a flute, and puffing away at some prelude

to Athene. “I wrote that,” she said, pointing to her

handwritten copy of Zukovsky’s A. Sentences

in his head used to match those that emerged

from his mouth. Activation of the gaze centers in concert

results in oblique movements whose trajectories

are specified by the relative contribution of

each center. Centuries rhyme. All must clearly understand

the difference between the idea, say, of Peter,

which constitutes the essence of Peter’s mind, and

the idea of the said Peter, which is in

another man, say, Paul. Obligatory

apologizing for the West. Moments before death,

flesh turns off, the little bubble of soul floats away,

and only mind — pure, dazzling arctic landscape — is left.

Dice

Joice Heth is not a human being. What purports to be

a remarkably old woman, is simply a

curiously constructed automaton, made up

of whalebone, India-rubber, and springs ingeniously

put together, and made to move at the slightest touch

according to the will of the operator. Over

and over, this. Over the moon she’d gladly go, out of

the cave, away from the peacock-monster and the fly, and

rectify the time to a cow’s thumb. His imagination

will waver; and, with the imagination of future

evenings, he will associate first one, then the other —

that is, he will imagine them in the future,

neither of them as certain, but both as contingent. Spooky

action can occur at a distance. I shall never

forget the grandiose and festive air which so completely

belied the hollowness of that occasion. No one spoke, but

angry, hostile eyes followed every movement I made. And when

I wanted to sing of sorrow, it turned into love:

and so I was divided into love and sorrow. She rests

back with all her might, pebble in a hard-drawn sling.

Bridge

Y: “I left it eons ago, when radiation started

to leak.” X: “I left just now, but Ted is still back

inside.” Z is the entanglement of all three. No drama

at the event horizon. Information loss

paradox. They pause at their entryway, unwilling to

permit the golden dying of afternoon to relinquish

them. George Ives would have his boys sing in one key

while he accompanied in another; he built

instruments to produce quarter-tones; he played his cornet

over a pond so Charlie could gauge the effect

of space. And can we rightly speak of a beauty which is

always passing away, and is first this and then that;

must not the same thing be born and retire

and vanish while the word is in our mouths?

Joel Chace has published work in print and electronic magazines such as The Tip of the Knife, Counterexample Poetics, Eratio, Otoliths, Infinity’s Kitchen, and Jacket. Most recent collections include Sharpsburg (Cy Gist Press), Blake’s Tree (Blue & Yellow Dog Press), Whole Cloth (Avantacular Press), Red Power (Quarter After Press), Kansoz (Knives, Forks, and Spoons Press), Web Too (Tonerworks), War, and After (BlazeVOX [books]), Scorpions (Unlikely Books), Humors (Paloma Press), and Threnodies (Moria Books).

Shevaun Brannigan

Drive

The road a run over skunk’s tail.
The garbage truck’s mouth is open,
a mattress stuck in its teeth.

Beneath my lone figure, bedbugs bred
on my DC box spring. I meant
to wrap it in plastic, instead dragged it

to the curb and kept walking. Sometimes
I’m a good person. I let other cars ahead,
I use my signal in the lot.

The garbage truck makes frequent stops.
Who doesn’t? One lasted eight years.
We’re all full of discards. To be

rinsed, empty bottles stacked in paper bags
is all I’ve wanted. The wind passing
over my mouth and I’d sing. Oh tender

raccoon mask of railroad crossing sign,
the X of don’t, of possibility, of here,
of intersection, of four people arriving

at the same time and staring ahead
forgetting the rules, I let other cars ahead,
I put my hazards on, I climb out

and lie at the side of the road,
still as a deer resting her head
on the curb, too tired to close her eyes.

Bear breaks into house, plays the piano but not very well

Well I lumber home with my keys outstretched,
I wipe my mouth, tug at the waist of my pants,

mutter, shuffle through fallen leaves, hunched figurine,
woman at the end of her day.

Inside, I squint at the overhead lights, I rip open
a plastic bag, knotted shut for why? a hamburger bun

makes a mouth within my mouth. The cat
winds about my legs, I wave it away.

That day I’d tried to be a good person, I smiled
on the subway, I turned my head to cough.

The bear burst out the home by pummeling a wall
with its body until it broke. I feel both bear

and cracking wall, the moment of impact between.
That I might escape, though from what—

 

Who doesn’t love art. A bear
might have played scales and people would have

cried faster, each morning
I dress, brush my teeth, go slower down the stairs.

Inside, my feral unconscious
wants praise for all the pretending I do,

the standing in lines,
the grooming too,

each morning that I leave the den of our bed,
instead of climbing on top of you,

my southpaw, my mate,
berries bursting in our mouths one note at a time.

Commutes

My sky is a real prom queen,
she’s got these taffeta layers,
that pink hue, a golden crown.
Everyone loves her, even the farmers
praying for rain.
Frank, nineteen miles west, stares out
the windshield at gray, bulbous clouds,
bus drivers’ pants, bunched at the seats.
We talk so long, the prom queen unzips,
the gray clouds thin,
color unfurls from the east like ribbon.
Home, we hold each other,
the white swatch of ceiling looms
as heaven. In the rafters, mating squirrels.
The squeals!

Shevaun Brannigan’s work has appeared in such journals as Best New Poets, AGNI, and Slice. She is a recipient of a Barbara J. Deming Fund grant, and holds an MFA from Bennington College.

Susana Amundaraín

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Artist’s Statement

The idea that, sometimes, the experience of a painting can stay with you all your life has always had a strong resonance with the way I feel about place. I usually remember it as an intense connection in abstract form, imbedded with a singular atmosphere, a unique signature. These are ‘pictures’ that have stayed with me without aging, images that become paintings to share. They surface again and again as I paint, evolving and becoming new forms of reality. Acrylic is my favorite medium because of its versatility. Sometimes it feels as fluid as inks, and then, it can reverse to being textural and thick. Occasionally I play with fragments of paper collaged to the canvas, or canvas collaged to the paper. Many years ago I started incorporating natural mica pieces as accents in my paintings. Their transparency and tangible reality had a particular appeal to me: small windows of Earth substance and presence.

I am always in awe of the possibilities of color in areas of very low light, or very diffused light, and I am continually attracted to the poetic in quiet pictorial surfaces. This I find to be the closest to an active form of meditation, which in turn allows us a path to our unknown selves.

Susana Amundaraín is a Venezuelan-born American artist. Her drawings, paintings and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Amundaraín’s work is represented in museums in South America and the United States, including the Galería de Arte Nacional and Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, and Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá. It’s also included in many private and corporate collections, such as PepsiCO, Fundación Polar, and ALCOA. Her work has been reviewed in Art News, Art Nexus, El Papel Literario de El Nacional (Caracas), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Viceversa magazine (NYC) among many others.

Susana generally builds her paintings through a multiple layering of color transparencies and eroded surfaces, in a balance between structured and atmospheric space. Amundaraín holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Denver in Colorado, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Metropolitan State University, CO. She has also been a Visiting Scholar in Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, in NYU, New York City. She currently lives and works in Minot, North Dakota. Please visit susanaamundarain.com.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 24)

 

We’d like to welcome you to this very special 24th issue of Posit.

Although this is not the first time we have felt the need to temper our excitement to bring out a new issue with recognition of the troubles of our times, other recent troubles pale in comparison with the intensity of our current global crisis. It is difficult not to question the relevance of art during a pandemic which threatens our livelihoods, our lives, and the stability of our societies. However, curating the superlative work in this issue has reminded us of art’s capacity to transport us beyond our bodies and our trials — offering us the chance to look away, even while guiding us to look deeper.

And the work we have collected here could not be more resonant with these frightening times. For direct relevance, we are honored to present Laura Mullen’s penetrating and humane consideration of the pandemic itself. And we are proud to offer five master-crafted odes by D. A. Powell, as well as Lewis Warsh’s profound meditations on love, aging, and the brave if modest feat of perseverance. Many of the works collected here contemplate death, as well as the mysteries and perils of living, from the brilliant ruminations of Benjamin Paloff and Joel Chace, to the frank and forceful voices of Alexandra Egan and Shevaun Brannigan, to the analogical reasoning (by way of constellations on the one hand, and insects on the other) of Amy Strauss Friedman and Rich Ives, to the pared-down beauty of Laura Walker’s reimagined Psalms.

Like so many organizations in times of upheaval, Posit has undergone some restructuring. This issue is our first without the participation of Melissa Stern as Arts Editor. We could not be more grateful to Melissa for her magnificent and sustained contribution to this publication. Informed as it was by her taste, judgment, and knowledge of contemporary art, her curation greatly contributed to Posit’s eclectic aesthetic, enabling us to situate our poetry and prose in a more interdisciplinary, not to mention visually vivid, artistic context. In an era in which specialization too often devolves to Balkanization, the art Melissa gathered helped Posit chart another path.

Working on this issue, we have found solace and wisdom, release and renewal. We hope you will as well.

Susana Amundaraín’s renderings of place and light emit a quiet but intense energy. They are at once subdued and vibrant, somber and serene. Amundaraín’s paintings have an almost magnetic power: they beckon and pull, arousing in the viewer a desire to enter their layered and mysterious worlds. Interpretations of place rather than places, these abstract canvases are liminal, evoking windows, doorways, and crevices — pivot points where realities meet. Above all, they explore the seamless relation between light and shadow; layering subtle washes of rich blues, blacks, and umbers in a wide range of densities and textures, from the velvety to the translucent. Amundarain’s palette is at once earthy and ethereal: she works in soul tones. In these canvases, delicately layered sheets of color are dramatically punctuated — and brilliantly completed — by contrasting lines and dabs whose power and beauty recall Turner’s famous red buoy.

Shevaun Brannigan’s arresting imagery is as rich and resonant as it is surprising: “the road a run-over skunk’s tail,” the garbage truck with its “mouth . . . open, / a mattress stuck in its teeth,” the railroad crossing sign a raccoon mask, the sky a prom queen with its “taffeta layers, / that pink hue, a golden crown.” Many of these images wind through the course of Brannigan’s poems, accruing new implications even as they lead gracefully and organically to their successors. These powerful poems boldly confront the urge to escape the burden of trying to “be a good person” and push on past the narrator’s “frequent stops” and relish the “berries bursting in our mouths one note at a time” in “the den of our bed.”

As the title of his first poem tells us, Joel Chace’s verse is saccadic, exploring questions of aesthetics, philosophy, justice, and physics via nimble and erudite referential leaps, from Socrates to Zukovsky, from P.T. Barnum’s obscene exploitation of Joyce Heth to the torment inflicted on Io by Argos, from black hole cosmology to Charles Ives’ childhood. At choice moments the intellect informing these connections yields to lyrical beauty, leading the reader to pause “to / permit the golden dying of afternoon to relinquish / them.”

Alexandra Egan’s powerful and personal verse perfectly dissects the bitterness of death: not just the physical lack, but the emotional distancing: “I mourned each opulently . . . I cried and was ugly with it” but “each time I learned nothing, was selfish, maudlin.” In a definition of desolation, “the season stays cold as gangsters dirty rain tough as kindergarten.” And yet, we live in a paradox: “If I say I want to die / I only mean / like a matryoshka / each split doll / opens on another / shinier less useless/deathless.” Progress, in Egan’s view, is to “Know that you will die and marvel as you would at anything perfect and tiny you can crush with your hands.” But perhaps, “When you burn something the ash is soft like thank you.”

Amy Strauss Friedman’s brilliant constellation poems expand what the ancient Greek myths told in narrative form: human psychology. In rich and detailed language, the poems speak to us of our time, from the smallest connections of cells: “I diagnose you a cancer the scientific equivalent of pinned wrists in a burning barn,” to our terrestrial connections — “camouflaged in dermal scales,” pointing to the vastness of both our knowledge and our ignorance. As constellations of cells and vestiges of evolutionary change, our “fear of living small ablates us” as we look for “a fascicle of storms and thorns making the sky like nail holes in wood.”

In Karen Holman’s billowing universe, our understanding of creation, from “particle of conception in our extended family of Atom” through “each snip of code to the fluttering canopy of memory” with “everywhere women cooking, always cooking an alphabet soup” may be “proof of how lucky, unlucky we are” in “the documentary-romantic-dystopian-historical-musical tragicomedy. . . coming somewhere where someone is screaming fire in a theater near you.” Meanwhile, in the world of the minute, “a mining bee’s wings blows breath through his piccolo home, fish ascend to float through canopies of autumn” and we offer “bent knees . . . aquamarines brighter than oxygen.”

Rich Ives returns to Posit with two beautiful and mysterious prose pieces taking the perspective of particular insect species to contemplate the mysteries of identity, desire, destruction and remedy. The life cycle of Ives’ Black Swallowtail Butterfly, in which “inside was once outside and outside will soon be back inside before it’s released altogether” has wider resonance, as does the creature’s idea, which “walks on many legs to its own escape.” It is not only in that creature’s world that apologies are “voluptuous tired little savages” which “surround you with melody until you think you’re going to explode with such sacred knowing.” Like the human beings it observes, the Blister Beetle acknowledges: “I’ve been a parasite . . . but I’m growing,” observing boys who “liked to break things because [they] were broken.”

It’s an honor to include Laura Mullen’s masterful and moving response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 14 sections of Virus brilliantly unfold the contradictions, reversals and recursions of our confusion and fear, enacting our struggle to come to grips with what is killing us. Its litany of symptoms exposes the deeper implications of the crisis, both personal: “these are the symptoms dry cough fever / Empty shelves shortness of breath disbelief. . . Some of the symptoms / Include refunds and slight social adjustments / Toward mercy moving in the direction / Of justice” and political: “The symptoms include poor people / asking for debt relief and healthcare / And rich people congratulating them- / Selves on their “abundance of caution.” Amidst the fear and venality it probes, this beautiful and tragic poem wryly echoes Frank O’Hara’s invocation to Lana Turner (“oh S & P we love you get up”) while graciously including a “note to say thank you” and express “gratitude for each / Person who was careful.”

Benjamin Paloff’s poems etch a perceptive and tender philosophy of the contradictions of daily life: personal, physical, yet always intertwined with the underlying life of the mind. In this life, the narrative ‘I’ has “no reason to contradict or doubt anything said by anyone who has taken care of me” and “a dream about the inner lives of bees can end with an actual bee stinging me on my actual mouth.” In these poems, our hopes are shaped by our intellectual perceptions: “The angels have faces quite unlike those in art books. The sirens are singing with their baited hooks just to drown you on the sand. To see the forward-facing footprints of the backward-walking man.” Although it may be “excruciatingly difficult not to be distrustful when people declare April the cruelest month, when what they really mean is that April is the cruelest month for them,” these poems temper judgment with wonder: “the starfish-shaped shimmers along the invisible edge could be anything.”

In Rick Pieto’s striking Glitch poems, the intriguing palimpsest of interrupted and repeated visual symbols, color, and text suggests a possible new history, and future, for poetry — one stemming from visual as well as auditory or conceptual juxtapositions. Repurposing conventional poetic tropes while rethinking and resisting them in purely visual terms, Pieto’s visual poems invite us into a new poetic and visual multiverse where we might be able to imagine the possibility that “the field (itself) thinks.”

These five odes by D. A. Powell demonstrate the poet’s extraordinary stylistic and formal range, coupled with a master’s trust in the power of simplicity to plumb depth, and playfulness to attain gravitas. From a guilty-laughter-inducing tribute to a beef steer; to a relaxed but lilting homage to the Brazil’s ineffable magic (“bc though proper / yr improper / when you need to be”); to the near-vispo feat of First Strains, recombining only three letters to achieve not only its visual resemblance to musical notation but its aural kinship with an owl’s hoot; to the colloquial bravado of The Next Big One (“Take me up in your Rolls and // Rock me daddy”); to the haiku-like solemnity of the 17-syllable Valentine’s Day — these poems demonstrate Powell’s ease with his chosen medium, along with his empathy, attention, and sly wit.

The human figures and their oversized avian companion/protectors at the heart of Alex Stark’s canvases are frequently doubled, but sometimes halved: connected to one another, if at times divided from themselves. The visual and thematic implications of doubling saturate these emotionally charged tableaux. For instance, Stark’s upbeat, almost naïvely rosy color palette conveys a gentle optimism even while suggesting unprotected flesh. The ineffable yet subtly distorted grace of these men and birds conveys a sense of harmony and vulnerability. In their faces we see both pain and joy, fear and wonder. These gentle, giant birds offer the men shelter and solace, as do their Edenic surrounds. Stark uses colored pencil and acrylic to create a light network of shimmering lines and patches of color that breathe with life and feeling.

In Laura Walker’s poems, the lyrical cadence and lovely simplicity of the King James Book of Psalms re-emerge and resonate in a contemporary context. The speaker’s words, like the psalms, encompass self and other, but are grounded in contemporary life. “I see you there or think I do / perched on a fence with your pantsleg rolled up / eating a pear or an apple.” Although the poems are responses to individual psalms, they eschew the literal. Walker subtly and brilliantly reworks both context and language from the King James version, such as “heathen rage” and “vain thing,” which are converted in psalm 2 to “a veined thing / rage.” In other poems, the relationship of praise and love inherent in the idea of psalms remains, while the music reverberates: “your name is a plucked thing in my mouth.”

These brilliant new poems by Lewis Warsh are tributes to the limited rewards and unlimited effort of life’s one-way, one-chance path. As powerful as they are understated, they look truth in the eye, eschewing the temptation to “drop a tincture of snake oil on / the scar tissue.” Instead, they honor the perseverance it takes to continue “after so many years of fighting our / way out of a paper bag” “while all the buildings where we spent / the night crumble into dust.” Recalling Keat’s To Autumn, Johnson Road peers from the literal and metaphoric season, when “each hour a little more light vanishes” to what lies beyond, “lost in shadow.” In Warsh’s remarkable volta, the gaze shifts from the pastoral to the stark specter of final judgment, when “the prosecutor /will present inadmissible evidence / to the jury of one’s peers.” Like Second Chance, Night Sky notes the humble rewards of carrying on: “Tuesday Matinees / at the Triplex. The forklly understatift / operator’s wife at the end of the bar.” Surveying such moments from a swift sampling of lives and eras, the poem hauntingly sums up the coda waiting for us all: “Night-life in the baggage / claim area with no where / to go.”

And Frank Whipple’s collages deploy fragments of antique images and ephemera to depict a speculative and surrealistic reality populated by disturbing human/object chimeras. Many are domestic scenes featuring adults and children in genteel 19th Century attire with inanimate objects, or even abstractions, for heads. At times there is a sedate, almost becalmed nostalgia to these tableaux, invaded by vaguely frightening intrusions from a universe not subject to our physical laws. What we glimpse is at once stable and unnerving, unfamiliar and yet incomprehensibly recognizable. The dream-like resonance of these images, along with their eerie relevance, adds weight to their compositional balance and rich, subtle color palettes.

We hope you enjoy these, and that you and yours stay safe and well.

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

Viviane Rombaldi Seppey

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Artist’s Statement

My work is informed by my nomadism between countries, languages and ways of seeing or thinking. My Maps Series in particular explores my identity and heritage through geographical and road maps found in my childhood home after my father’s death. The maps I use are the carrier of my personal and family migrant history. They are the support of my individual experience and of our collective knowledge.

In the artwork, the maps are drawn, cut, painted or assembled to create three-dimensional objects and works on paper. The printed matter that I transform retains its integrity as a public document, while it simultaneously holds fragments of my personal migratory journey. In an age of technology and electronic tools, the maps reflect an in-between world. By examining the tactile quality of paper in the creation of sculptural objects, I explore my own personal displacement experiences and question the inherent transience of the surrounding world.

My work becomes the witness to my migrating life and my interaction with individuals, places, and memory. The long, fastidious, repetitive action of my creative process both physicalizes and metaphorically reflects the time that it takes to integrate into new environments.

Viviane Rombaldi Seppey’s work explores personal and collective understandings of place, and is informed by her migratory upbringing and experiences. Born in Switzerland of Italian descent, Seppey has lived on four continents and is based in New York. Her work incorporates maps, phonebooks, photographs, magazines, and other materials into intricate installations, collages, sculptures, and drawings. She holds an MFA from RMIT Melbourne, Australia, and has exhibited at numerous institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; the Hunterdon Art Museum, NJ; and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia. Please visit vivianerombaldi.com for more information.

Maureen Seaton & Denise Duhamel

12 Lines about Gender (Florida-Style)

I looked to the sky, a UFO above me, or was it a gender
rolling over and over in that big sky like a female
orgasm, delirious with flashing lights? Intercoastal intersex
is so lovely with its salt water and its fresh: true Two-Spirit
brackishness. I mistook a manatee for an androgynous
goddess of rising sea and sinking city, gender-fluid
silver ripples along her back. I spied an omega male
kayaking quietly through musky mangroves, all genderqueer
with their gorgeous underwater roots, their agenda agender
and big love (the nursery of the world!). One transgender
spaceship (or was it a cloud?) was tired of cisgender
sand hogs and sea bullies and wrote across the sky: Bye, Gender!

12 Lines about Gender (the Cosmos)

I believe there is no one on the planet luckier than a bi-gender,
who, like a hipster trickster, lives above the fray, unidentifiable
in their lovely/lanky/stunning/staggering way beyond cisgenders
and their scripts. Monday I’m a femme, Tuesday, androgynous
as a moon pouring light in a cosmos that’s so gender-fluid
it holds Castor, Pollux (twin boys) and Venus (so female,
she’s star of both morning and evening, leading the sun, male,
and earthly Gillette to name a razor in her honor). Agender
ex-planet, Pluto, boasts 5 moons of mythical transgendered
radiance. Astronomists spy on Nix, its interstellar intersex
moonstruck self, as they fly by Pluto to confirm its two-spirit
orbit. The Hubble zooms in on each lovely sphere, genderqueer.

A former proud contributor to Posit Journal, Maureen Seaton has authored twenty-one poetry collections, both solo and collaborative — most recently, Sweet World (CavanKerry Press, 2019). Her awards include the Lambda Literary Award, an NEA, and two Pushcarts. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry and many fine literary journals and anthologies. A memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin, 2008, 2018), also garnered a “Lammy.” Seaton is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami.

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009); Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005); Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001); The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999); and Kinky (Orhisis, 1997). She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.

Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton have co-authored four collections of poetry, the most recent of which is CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New) (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). With David Trinidad, they edited Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry (Soft Skull, 2007).

Matthew Schommer

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Artist’s Statement

Through my work I’m aiming to evoke a feeling of hazy nostalgia. To create an atmosphere reminiscent of elusive, lingering dreams. Iconic imagery and found photographs serve as a spring board for me to explore mankind’s foggy past and uncertain future. With watercolor and acrylic paints and layers upon layers of graphite, my work prompts the viewer to analyze the human condition and society at large.

Born in Michigan, Matthew Schommer started learning drawing and painting from his father Dennis at an early age. After studying art at a local college he moved to Chicago to study film and then onto New York to work for Christies auction house and to further his art career. Matthew’s work is exhibited in galleries in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Miami. He currently lives and works in Chicago.

Fortunato Salazar

first anacreontic scrawled in dior addict fuchsia pink on fair skin in alice, tx

If God popped
into your Master
and spun birth
certificate and
$100 U.S. currency and water?

One week of being
set upon nonstop
each time we clear out,
before we even clear the door.

Kubler-Ross boxes
from going so long
punch-drunk on locker
confiscation bonuses and nothing dirtier
than flow from the tap.

Ominous Masters
inverted. Insults,
likely. God manned
a tower for just such flutter.

second anacreontic scrawled in dior addict fuchsia pink on fair skin in alice, tx

I debate circumcised
guy, he wrings out verse.

I wring out verse, I’m child preacher.

Just break down your Alpha Kilo Juliett Victor,
circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing, He’ll
give you all you need,

give Him all your worries. My bed is in a room, the room
flesh made by hands, in the
long hours alone I practice forensic in recliner.

What am I in this proof. I’m mute and I barter at the door,
and let us not be weary in
well doing, for in due season we shall reap.

Nor is uncircumcision anything, this is the
counterbalancing assertion, for neither is
circumcision anything, I’m untouchable like a distant
diamond sky, I’m not

insubordinate in the service of the enemies of bigotry and
narrowness.
The confounding calm shatters
fear, complacency. We restrain ourselves from each

encroaching on the other. Was anyone called circumcised.
Let him not renounce
his circumcision. Anyone been called in uncircumcision.
Let him not be circumcised.

It’s like poison to me not to triumph in debate or even to
leave the wrangling
incomplete.

Fortunato Salazar lives in West Hollywood; his recent writing can be found at PEN America, Conjunctions, Tin House, Mississippi Review, Asymptote, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere.