Alexa Doran

Stretch Marks

[based on the gestures of the body are a Dada collage by Ryan Swanson]

I offer you a shishkabob. Water-
logged squash, swollen zucchini.
Morning crumples against the bay
window. Is this what they mean
by obliterated? The smashed swan

of your mouth indecipherable
in the yellow blue gristle of light.
Blonde before you were beautiful,
your hair risen to the rung of excess,
another surface for death.

It’s true every woman’s dreams jot across her torso,
a trellis of opal skin. The gentle hashing out, the violet
tally of children. Color more than life is a siphoning.

The hours lynched from you. No longer the pale glove
of winter beckoning, the gorgeous hoopla unfastening.
There is all this time between your bent knees, and like
any worn trail or womb you taste of cotton and undying.

In Which Ghost is a Hue

As I court my son through his tenth month
our ship rollicking
half party, half sustained injury,
I halt at the cueing of ‘court’ —

I am one of those mothers.

Oh plushiest one, how I want to canopy your world.

Every morning is both cake and calla lillies
with you. We giggle against the pillow
but there is no joke,
just the tinkering turned to booming
in a mind that yields to hope.

Ask and you shall receive
ok, so I over-dote.

I mean I am absolutely at the rim
of every dose. Your bottle runneth over

and over, darling. I want to castrate you
save you from the pubic pull that ate me alive,
to wash away the role that rape plays,
to prevent you from the onus to divide.
But I don’t.

You love the goopy, and I want to love it too.

You choose a snowball pumpkin on a church afternoon
and frankly death has more color than this fruit
but you own it. Mine you say, fingering the ghost

hue. So I bend beside the Bloody Effigy of Christ
(you ask poked? And I answer poked through)
to admit

that life is sort of like city traffic,
and we the pedestrians.

What do I mean?

Your death nudges me,
a Buick at the back of my knees.

My son just started saying mom

to something beside the sofa
and it is hitting me harder
than the bong rip I took last night.

You know the kind that leaves you
in a limbo, half hazy half max
clarity, and I think this smoky
state fits perfectly, because damn

if he hasn’t spent the past ten months
not really knowing me. I was okay
being Lady with the Lavender Scented
Butt Wipes and Lady That Rocks
Against Me in the Night. Those slipped
on like Cinderella’s slipper. But now

the stakes have changed — someone’s foot
will not configure his fate. How to teach him
to trade shoe size for being kind? To love
regardless — glass or burlap hide? Honestly
it’s only a matter of hours before he pins me
for a phony, sees I’ve signed up for something
I only wish to be.

I don’t want to be the one who separates
fairy tale from fact or begs you to let me
meet Whitney or Lindsay or Jack or whoever
is your idea of a living dream at sixteen.

I want to Whitman across the world
with you. Two spouts, no, two fountains,
gushing because the grass, the lobster,
the alive alive alive, because the moon-groped

shore is an umbilical cord between us, because
we just started gathering the lilacs and they are
there and there and here.

Alexa Doran is a mother, a lyrical gangster, and a PhD student at FSU. She’s recently been featured or is forthcoming in CALYX, The Pinch, Guernica, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Juked and Posit literary magazines. Her poem “Emmy Hennings: Access is Excess” won first place in the 2016 Sidney Lanier Poetry competition, and her poem “Directions to My Body for the Uninitiated” was recently a finalist in the 6th Annual Gigantic Sequins Poetry Contest.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 16)


Greetings, and welcome to Posit 16! It has been four years since we came out with our first issue, and our new contributors’ page gets to the root of my gratitude — to the extraordinary writers and artists who have entrusted their work to this publication; to the wise and wonderful fellow editors I have the pleasure to work with; and especially to you, our readers. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to scroll through the list — and perhaps revisit some favorites, or check out something you previously missed.

But be sure to save time for the gorgeous work in this new issue, much of which has a certain coiled and quiet potency, enfolding us in its figurative and figured fabrics against the “pale glove / of winter” — “because a legacy of facts / Tramples the empty pages of an early white snow tonight / & because the sky is still falling like a stuntman” (Raymond Farr, “Realism is in Bloom!”). Here you will encounter a number of more or less direct engagements with our alarmingly falling sky, including Peter Leight’s topical (if not literal) “Wall,” and Barbara Henning’s dispatches from our news-menaced daily lives, evocatively dubbed Digigrams. Other works, like those by Charlie D’Eve, Grey Vild, and Alexa Doran, grapple with more personal if no less urgent intersections of justice and identity. Still other pieces apply a calm and sometimes light touch to the grave task of “shaking [their] tags to wake the jangling chorus in [our] wreck” (Jennifer Fossenbell, “Preface to Salivation”).


Charlie D’Eve’s frank yet elliptical verses, juggling the harmonies and tensions of confidence and self-protection, advance and retreat, “the times when one part / wants thing / And the other part / wants Thing,” and “it’s all political all;”

the virtuosic profundity of Alexa Doran’s love-songs to the “half party, half sustained injury” that characterizes motherhood at its most passionate, which can be as transfixing and devastating as “a Buick at the back of my knees;”

Raymond Farr’s artfully relaxed couplets to the ordinary miracle of mortality, in which “life is big but not grandiose,” “History is a lot like life & the facts are a lot like / Our own lives in particular” and “death is a sink stacked high with dirty dishes / After we’ve eaten our fill of everything;”

Jennifer Fossenbell’s “Preface to the Obvious” which is anything but, popping with energy and weighted with foreboding, “sparked, in other words . . . Signified” by imaginative leaps and dazzling wordplay that entices us to “lean . . . in closer to hear what [she is] hymning about” and “call[ing] for a ritual, a cerebration!”

Jeff Hardin’s provocative interrogations of existence via query and negotiation with what “Stand[s] in a Center That Is Too Often Tuneless,” deploying his art to “usher us out of the staid and the worn;”

the staccato reportage of Barbara Henning’s Digigrams, a series of “ecliptic telegrams” delivering their condensed amalgam of happenings interior and exterior, optimistic and grim, inflected by the moral failings of our contemporary political moment, with its “truth and lies viral,” “2400 migrants rescued – four children dead;”

the vibrant tension barely contained by these excerpts from Caroline Knapp’s forthcoming chapbooks, The Hunters Enter the Wood and Tanzsprachen, mining the “ditch beside song where // quiet gathers” to reach “the invisible that / shows like stars” and “salvage . . . [from] silence . . . / a fixed and savage song;”

the sly and suggestive counterpoint of Peter Leight’s “Needlework” and “Wall,” their content embodied in their forms, the connective stitches of the first poem’s lineation juxtaposed tellingly with the second’s solid block of prose, reminding us to ask: “is this the only way? Will it always be like this? Or is this an episode that ends when everybody stops watching?”

these cryptic and provocative excerpts from Barbara Tomash’s forthcoming book, Pre–, mining the suggestive instability of “the process of thought rather than the objects of sense experience” via the “automatic relay” of the versatile and ubiquitous prefix, “a temporary modulation . . . // leaping from its horizontal transverse axis / into a remote key;”

the wry humor of J.T. Townley’s “Dead Cat Bounce,” a Q and A of contemporary reality in which “we’re all enmeshed in a web or wired. Also, wireless. It’s how we’re hard-wired” while “a bottoming process is being experienced” in which “switches might start flipping;”

the gorgeously screamed incantations of Grey Vild’s “carnal, carnival sun-drenched, scavenged throat of worship” of idols which “can only be flesh” yet “refuse to be flesh” like “chalk screeching down a bald board” or “a soundless thunder rumbling a dry sky;”

and the quiet lament of Nicolette Wong’s collaborations with photographer David Heg, the counterpoint of their words and images “reverberating through the blinds” with “the rhythm of rust” “in a room of dust singed by erasure.”

My thanks to them all, and to you who read this, for being here.

Susan Lewis


Welcome to Posit 16’s visual art!

Lou Beach makes the most deliciously wicked and subversive collage pieces I’ve ever seen. His universe jumps into yours with the antics of the creatures, human and sub-, that he creates. Beach is a technical virtuoso. Laboriously constructed, these seamless collages appear effortless. His sly, cock-eyed yet clear-eyed view of the world is both personal and universal. He skewers politicians with fearless precision. Plus they are just so damn beautiful!

Karen Hampton is a visual storyteller. Her profoundly moving mixed-media pieces tell tales of hope and despair, slavery and freedom. Made from stitched fabric, these pieces harken back to the tradition of ‘women’s work,’ and Hampton plays with these resonances to tell stories of urgent immediacy. She utilizes digital printing and hand-sewing to literally and figuratively weave together narratives that are both contemporary and historical, reminding us that we are inextricably tied to our collective histories.

The work of Bryce Honeycutt is intensely tied to her relationship with the natural world. She takes her interactions with the land and delicately filters them into exquisite artifacts. Her marks, whether drawn or stitched, are like poetic maps of these experiences. Her fluent use of a wide range of materials imbues the work with a sense of life. Rather than looking fabricated, the work seems to have ‘grown’ into the forms it takes.

Sarah Stengle and Eva Mantell have collaborated on an intriguing project entitled “Pages from the Frozen Sea” (referring to a quote by Franz Kafka). The photographic project explores the endlessly fascinating, ever-changing nature of ice as a material both solid and ephemeral. Their photographs of embedded objects play with the ways light interacts with the ice and the objects inside it. It takes a minute to gain your footing with this mysterious work. Once you figure out the construct, you are left to wonder, with a measure of awe, at this work’s marriage of materials.

Viewing the sculptures and drawings of Millicent Young, I am drawn into a meditative state. I begin to think of the passing of time – how long must it have taken to tie those knots, or wait for so much ink to evaporate? Her work addresses time in a way that evokes the creation of the earth and the very slow movement of geology. These pieces asks us to consider the possibilities inherent in ‘patience.’ Young’s use of natural materials and a neutral palette speak to her gentle approach to our world and her acceptance of the transitory nature of life itself.


Melissa Stern