July 31, 2016
New York City Poetry Festival
Governor’s Island, NYC
July 31, 2016
New York City Poetry Festival
Governor’s Island, NYC
The wound in the decision.
I have hurt you and you are
as blue as every bit of blue
is precocious. Exhibit A:
a seal and matches and swan
and ivy and a suit. I am guilty
as charged: star glide, a single
frantic sullenness, a financial
grass greediness. What’s the use
of violent kinds of delightfulness
if there’s no pleasure in not getting
tired of it? Don’t answer, I know
what you are going to say: lilies
are lily white and they exhaust
noise and distance and even dust.
Yes, water astonishing and difficult
altogether makes meadows stroke.
Yes, red weakens an hour. Little
called anything shows shudders.
Exhibit B: elegant use of foliage
and grace and a piece of white
cloth and oil. Exhibit C: not hull
house, not pea soup, no bill no
care, no precise pearl past pearl
goat. What was the use of whole
time to send or not send if there
was to be the kind of thing that
made that come in? That sorrow,
that is. That sorrow that came
in. I don’t have to tell you this.
The sudden spool is the wound
in the decision. Full stop.
Believe me, I prayed that night
might be doubled for us. (Thin
flame under my skin.) We know
this much—this parting must be
endured, though I go unwillingly.
Use your soft hands to tear off
dill shoots. Apple branch, wild
hyacinth, greenwood, clover,
thyme. I have a small daughter.
A quince-apple. A girl track star.
Last night I dreamed that we
had words. You know the place,
sacred precincts. We quarreled
about my two minds, my child-
like heart. Desire darts, drawn
in circling flight—Andromeda.
Frankly I wish I were dead. Day
in, day out, I hunger and struggle.
Don’t, I beg you. Use your soft
hands to tear off dill, crocus.
Remember (you know well)
whom you leave shackled
by love. The night is half gone;
youth goes; I am in bed alone.
Breaking news. This is KVVU Fox-5
reporting live from the Hoover Dam
as ten thousand gather tonight, a tractor-
trailer overturned near the Paradise overpass,
and four women were found in a Henderson
basement, captive in a kitchenette with six
children. Rubber-necking delays inbound.
Police found the girl cowering in a corner
on a cherry four-poster, carved balusters
stretched with a yak’s hide: Voilà, the bed
is a drum. Go on, beat it with a bobbystick
for those bearded beauties, 5-o-clock shadows
found in good health—a riot in the thalamus,
a fair in les ovaires, a nailhead that asks you
to name it then smack it with a hammer,
dammit. Client, rustico, jet-setter, John.
Does she rest her cheek on leather or
pleather? Is the hide of an animal cool?
Her fingers find their way into the button-
tufted dimples in the seat, the way a child
kicks her shoes off under the couch. All girls
want to put a few extra holes in themselves.
To hang stuff off. Her peach-fuzz cheek,
her wispy bangs, and oh, that elegant foot—
second toe longer than the first, petite girl
for a size-9 shoe. She grew up near a reactor.
Did I mention her impeccable dress—abacus
of blossoms, popcorn strings, errata—the nap
goes only one way, the same way as her zipper-
toothed mind, polish chipping off indigo toes.
Do you see how well lit she is? She is under
a warming lamp. What leads you to believe
her hands are bound, that she didn’t just slump
that way? She’s a moody recruit. She is off
the shoulder. She is, by definition, a daughter.
What happened to her little friend? Look
closer: each tufted button is a long-lashed
eye. Lashed to a post. The lashed laugh
of the luxury guest—deluxe, high roller,
priority, preferred, elite, concierge, club.
You are on the list. You are on the rainbow-
mushroom-paisley carpet with a soundproof
asbestos under-foam. Neighborhood watch:
three youth charged with criminal mischief.
Look around—statutory, statutory, statuary.
Men made these beds. Women lie on them,
and about them. True false true false true
false true: she’s been crying for an hour
and the hour is getting threadbare, so we
may as well make some music: mirage, pulse,
pulse, adieu. Mirage, pulse, pulse, adieu.
Are you alright? Did you cut yourself?
Do you want me to get somebody?
Hold pressure. Hold for the next available.
Stand by for World News—I’m your chorus,
your orchid-rhymes-with-orange oracle, your
stiletto Geppetto pancetta vendetta latte
hottie reporting live from the mall:
I’m televoracious, televivacious—
your Heat Miser hand sanitizer, in-
patient, outpatient, up-patient, down-
patient dumbwaiter down the hatch.
It’s a harp, and I’ll harp on it. A bed
is a drum is a loom is a bed is a drum
is a loom is a bed. Back to you, Bob.
Channeling and transcribing the “Televoracle” took place at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, New York, in November 2013, in the presence of three large-scale works of art visible from a single vantage: Chen Zhen’s Vibratoire (1997, bedsteads with yak skin and rope), Antonio Santin’s Yeh (1978, oil on canvas), and Jeff Wall’s Rear, 304 E. 25th Ave, May 20, 1:14 and 1:17 pm (1997, black and white photograph with inset).
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.
Welcome, reader, to the pleasures of Posit 6! And while we admit to loving the work we gather for every issue, this one is special, welcoming back five contributors from our first two issues: Michael Boughn, Rich Ives, Mary Kasimor, Sheila Murphy, and Mark Young. Naturally, we are also as excited as ever to welcome our newest contributors to the Posit family! This issue’s cover art by John Yoyogi Fortes is titled “Navigating the Slippery Slope,” which is exactly what all of the work in Posit 6 manages. As we hope you’ve come to expect, this issue contains stellar examples of contemporary verse that is as disciplined as it is innovative; multi-genre work, both collaborative and individual; prose poetry, and “dervish essays.” When we consider all of the literature gathered in this volume, we are amazed by the way all of these writers makes use of such a range of aesthetic strategies – from irony to gravity, emotion to ellipsis – to grapple with some of the most time-honored literary preoccupations: love, loss, mortality, the nature of existence, and the contradictions of contemporary society. Here, in a nutshell, is why you should read them all.
The precise yet organic prosodic architecture of Michael Boughn’s “City” echoes its subject in this new excerpt, in which mermaids must take refuge from their irreality in those eponymous collectivities, inviting us to consider “certain questions/with the stress on quest,” and their inevitable “figuratively speaking/loose ends.”
Cathleen Calbert’s light-heavy, sharp-edged humor startles us into recognizing such uncomfortable truths as that “all toddlers are Nazis,” and entertainingly warns of the dangers inherent in “myths: Greek, Christian, or “personal” regarding the meaning of death of chicken-fried steak.”
Emily Carr’s multi-genre mash-up begins with a visually stunning collage poem, by way of introduction to love poems whose roots are in the natural world, spinning like “a tornado of dickcissels.”
Dante Di Stefano keeps us reeling with his wild pony ride of a litany declaring “I’m the most stressed out / lazy person ever” “as wrong as two hotdogs in one bun,” desperately commanding us to “Recite me from memory like a prayer.”
Reminding us that “the travelcraft of poetry is the sound/of it,” David Giannini’s re-imaginings of our interior and exterior landscapes emit a serene musicality even as they startle us with their unforeseeable, indispensable insight, coaxing us to “open wide to unknowing” the hauntingly unknowable, such as “How asleep is awake?”
Rich Ives’ prose poems draw us in with “showgirl fluff and red-winged poppies” only to leave us with “a rooster in the lilac bush, and feast of unanswered questions” as well as a list poem teasing us with philosophical musings such as “Facts are not cruel. Understanding is” and “Wisdom is cheap, but a good lie is expensive.”
Mary Kasimor’s unmistakable ‘undressed impossible’ calls out its resemblance to “a naked turkey or a flower with all its petals torn off” but is on display here in full petal, full feather, and full glory, as fully haunting as “the icy etching of the sun.”
Corinne Lee juxtaposes her verse with haunting images of glass in poems so exquisite that they permit us to “meet lightness—and not shatter” and pose the timely question, “If everyone is the police, where do we survive?”
Kate Lutzner’s clean and potent elegies to love and loss resonate with the mystery of “voices ground to a hush,” exploring the times in all of our lives when “the scar rubs where the heart was” and “the equation says: break.”
Sheila Murphy’s spare lyrics offer a stark yet mysterious profundity in their accounts of our mortality, “this mid-range/found by living/with prospective knowing” framed by the character of our status before and after life, “advancing/and in wait.”
In his “dervish essays,” Robert Vivian offers lyrical incantations that carry us along intricate arrays of imagery to leave us spinning and elevated as “rooks, crows, and turkey vultures and smoke from distant fire.”
And finally, Mark Young’s poems delight us with juxtaposition, colliding observations such as that “Near death experiences dwarf all other categories” with “The cook was very personable, an exemplary professional. I was so excited. He came out in January” to startle us with his effortless and uncannily pleasurable verbal dope slaps.
Thank you for reading!
Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann
Welcome to the visual art of Posit 6!
It’s my pleasure to gather the fine work of five artists working in a range of idioms and media.
Sabhad Adam’s funny and poignant paintings of adults sitting in baby carriages marry the absurd with the sentimental. These overgrown babies scowl at us with unwavering stares, provoking us to consider the politically subversive subtext of these unsettling works.
The mad, mad world of John Yoyogi Fortes is inhabited by ids and egos, color and movement. His paintings are funny, profound and visually gorgeous. The work is as direct and spontaneous as if there were a direct line from his brain to the canvas.
Gilbert Garcin photographs a highly structured and disciplined world in luscious black, white and infinite grey tones. Man stands alone in a Universe of his own making. Solemn and quiet, these photographs invite us to witness the archetypical dramas enacted by one man’s imagination.
The drawings of Carol Radsprecher bounce with barely contained energy. Hints of figuration and narrative tease at the stories lurking beneath these surfaces of vibrant color and suggestive form.
And Hinke Schreuders’ work depicts a skewed version of idealized women in vintage advertising. Veils of embroidery pop the work into an eerily resonant psychological third dimension.
Thank you for viewing!