Amorak Huey

At the Whim of Human Fancy

We have accelerated the evolution of chickens:
this is one way to talk about progress. To look back
without nostalgia. Scientists suggest hens’ newly yellow skin
has something to do with the ability to lay eggs year-round,
and so it always comes down to hunger. I don’t know
why I don’t write you more letters. I don’t know
why in my dreams the desert seems to be a place of great mystery —
cactus and some sort of quest. I expect
you have stopped waiting by now. After so many
trips to any empty mailbox, even the sky
would fall out of love with the sand. Even if
we could start over, would we? I grew up
with chickens, did I tell you that? And goats
and the occasional pig. It was my job to feed them all.
I hated the responsibility. Of course
there’s never one right way to do anything
but there are as many wrong ways as spines
on a saguaro. It’s kind of genius, as painful
ways to spread seeds across the land go,
the barb on the needle that keeps it holding on.
It might sound like I’m talking about God,
but it could also mean I’m more trusting
than I used to be. Faith has nothing to do with it.
I can do just less than enough over and over,
I can fall short and shorter. The chickens
are wider, more productive, more agreeable.
All this within a handful of generations.
I don’t know what else you expect from me.

Deposition: The Absent Mother

Can you explain your absence?

I am the cracked limb. The lightning scar. The smell of ash.

When I was a girl I drew the same picture over and over: the sky, rent open by a V of flying geese.

One afternoon, a man came on a horse. He carried a flag and spoke of distant wars. He ate our bread and drank our milk. I asked him to take me away but he was gone when I awoke.

I began to imagine my body as the beginning of time. I began to fear my own flesh. This was when the erasing began. When I understood the story would continue without me.

In Lieu of Apology

I can offer you the heat shimmer off Highway 11 in deep July, the smell of melting tar, the only way out of town.

I can offer my hand on a walk around the lake. I can offer the dying grass, the dry wind, the taste of grape bubble gum and everything that mattered in my childhood.

I can offer stumble, spit-take, outcast, skinned knuckles, dirty knees.

I can offer hair-metal ballads on speakers I installed myself in my Civic: sap and sadness and shiny guitars.

I can offer you six years of escape plans.

I wake. I rise. I fill my arms and search for you. I am lost. I can offer you my state of being lost. I can offer a mouthful of sand and all the words I have not yet formed.

Amorak Huey is author of the forthcoming poetry collection Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and the chapbook The Insomniac Circus (Hyacinth Girl, 2014). A former newspaper editor and reporter, he teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His poems appear in The Best American Poetry 2012, The Southern Review, The Baltimore Review, The Collagist, Rattle, and many other journals. Follow him on Twitter: @amorak.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 7)

Welcome to this, our seventh issue of Posit, which rings in the end of summer with a number of works concerned, more and less directly, with love and loss. Although the travails of the heart are foregrounded in the pieces by Carl Boon, Joan Cappello, B.K. Fischer, Amorak Huey, and Simon Perchik, we also perceive a fittingly elegiac aspect in this issue’s contributions by Andrew Collard, Ian Miller, Brad Rose and Katherine Soniat. So, it is with the greatest pleasure and admiration that we present:

Carl Boon’s evocative narratives, seeded with unsettling admissions and haunting insights, in which “One of us grew older, / the other grew silent . . ./ as the children collided / with monsters . . .” and “We see/the moth imposed upon,/balance indistinct from flight;”

Joan Capello’s potent prose miniatures, inviting us into the narrator’s emotional core even as they pull us up short with their reminders of “hypoallergenic bed clothes” and tellingly developed tics;

Andrew Collard’s enigmatic elegies, which challenge us to imagine a world in which “loneliness is its own falling” and “Hunters of the paper-tin drip on like ages, / impart the finest ripples as they come and unbecome;”

Joanna Penn Cooper’s gracefully grounded musings on parenting and other intersections of self and other, infused with an artist’s sensitivity to the magic of an everyday touched by the “daimon, not demon;”

B.K. Fischer’s pitch-perfect, penetrating prosody, honed into verses as wistful as they are sharp, positioning the staccato musicality of “your chorus,/your orchid-rhymes-with-orange oracle, your/stiletto Geppetto pancetta vendetta latte/hottie” beside puzzles such as “what’s the use/of violent kinds of delightfulness/if there’s no pleasure in not getting/tired of it?”

Amorak Huey’s haunting deployment of the image in language as brisk and ringing as “I am the cracked limb. The lightning scar. The smell of ash,” creating a complex amalgam of hope and resignation, nostalgia and realism: “After so many/trips to any empty mailbox, even the sky/would fall out of love with the sand;”

The resonance and reach of Stephanie King’s sharply compressed, cryptic formulations whose curt simplicity opens into such mysteries as “I’m quite sure the groan is interior” and “This is a mental aroma;”

The concrete yet magical flash fictions of Ian Patrick Miller, touching down in Prague, Chicago, and Hawaii with a deft touch that offers glimpses of a daughter who “goes to sleep inside her lips, the mouth of secrets,” a wife with a fever like “a hived, winged thing,” and a mass of angels “heaped, quills snapped, eyes blinded, long sinewy arms reaching up for whatever has tossed them down;”

Simon Perchik’s poignant and unvarnished probing of the realities of love and loss, in which “the moon behind the moon/works its huge tides” and the survivor’s struggle to come to terms with a beloved’s mortality is “bit by bit broken apart/with care and mornings;”

Brad Rose’s stark combination of irony, plain speaking, and elegiac lyricism, giving us poems as memorable and disturbing as the Quarry Lake victim’s “smooth, bronze skin, a membrane of beauty;”

Gary Sloboda’s eloquent elegies to time and its ravages, including the (deceased) poet Hannah Weiner, time itself: “erased in a fine gauze of leaves, a tide of quivering stains,” and of course mortality: “our watchfulness and the abattoir to which the watching leads” – for all ephemeral beauties, including “our bodies . . . tending their evanescence;”

And Katherine Soniat’s elegantly crafted new pieces, displaying her “quick-silver tongue . . . always wanting one more eternity,” taking on scripture, which “drools and rolls over” for “these twitchy recurring regressions through sex, greed/and bedlam” as well as the hubris of those of us “upright one[s] – who think ourselves first and foremost, especially while writing poetry.”

As ever, thank you for reading, and our special thanks to our contributors (past, present, and future) for entrusting their extraordinary work to Posit.

—Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann


It is my pleasure to introduce the visual art of Posit 7.

Working in the genre of ‘official’ portraiture, Carl LeMieux presents us with images of our American presidential pantheon unlike any commissioned by the White House. They are funny, irreverent and revealing of the mythos surrounding each of them.

The objects Matt Mitros creates are a combination of scientific experiments gone sideways and a science fiction vision of the world. Surreal and beautiful, they seem to be born of their own universe.

Similarly, Chris Motley has taken the craft of knitting and elevated the process into the realm of contemporary sculpture. Reminiscent of the natural world, her biomorphic forms delight us with their surprising marriage of humble materials and sophisticated conceptualization.

Mark Perlman’s beautifully composed abstract paintings are deliciously lyrical. Color and line move in a syncopated way that juxtaposes fragments of pattern and form in richly layered surfaces.

Chris Schiavo’s unaltered iPhone photographs of the New York City subway have a fevered, dreamlike quality. Presenting bits of recognizable images poking through abstracted patterns of light and line, they capture the rhythm and energy of a metropolitan population on the move.


—Melissa Stern