Elizabeth Robinson

Augur

for Robert Kelly

The promise did not promise
to be beautiful.

The promise was of labor,
not virtue.

You perceive the grail: it attests
to its existence, but, as always,

refuses to disclose its whereabouts.
And somewhere you find a landscape,

deep in that landscape,
whose particulars are your birth.

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You, sojourner, find a stained
rag there, a faded scarf

which you read. Could it
have been so long ago

that you learned to read?
When reading is place

bereft of location. When the scarf,
once green, became bluer.

None. Known. Nonce. Anon.
Anonymous. Anomalous.

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You had, perhaps become exhausted
with the saying of it when

the mistake blossoms: exhaustion
is the cure

for reading, for mapping.
Talk, in the hidden place

becomes the work of itself.
A scarf, wadded and stuffed

into the mouth, is exhaled with
great force. See how it lofts

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on the words like a cloud
as they move definitely

away from you. Broken
perception is a place, even

“home,” if you will. The work
was never meant to be ethical. A thing

becomes its own imperative most often
because you live there and you break it.

Extensive practice. When finally the eyes
fail to read the broken script, then:

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yes. You, having so recently heard
of this thing called reading, essay it.

Error-ridden sentence verb subject
you topographical backwards, the

ruddy and green layers of it. In this
placeless specificity, you assay it. Never

a map but a disemboweling, discovery
joyously fractures what it finds, and

deeper. Deep blindness of the word.
Its glee. The work rummaging

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itself, mine brought provisionally
to the surface, silt bubbling into

all streams. Ash caressing this
particular scape like a silk scarf.

The practice of intention is
its own discovery, wise and

iniquitous. “There once was a story,”
you read aloud,

and it undermined itself
in receipt of its recognitions.

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Home or fire? Work
or reworking? If there were a door—

should there have been a door—
entry onto what? Reciprocity

means also exit. And after it all
burned down, haven’t you wondered

why it’s always the chimney
that still remains? One spark

or another as the unseeing eye
forces a blurred word to register, a glint

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made specific by indeterminacy. The
promise offered itself like a body

you may, or may not, have declined. A shapely
word, swathed only in a blue scarf, whose

dimensions fall away before the scarf does.
Down the well or into the mine, up

the chimney. The promise whose articulation
is “poof,” whose word

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lingers as an aroma in the air. You quaff it
through nose and mouth. Smoke, too, is the embodiment of what’s broken.

It fills the dislocated grail with its syrup. You

have always felt its sting in your throat, the hole in the cup

that breathes on your behalf.

Elizabeth Robinson is the author, most recently, of Rumor, from Parlor Press. Being Modernists Together is forthcoming in 2022 from Solid Objects. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Big Other, Denver Quarterly, Fence, New Letters, Plume, Scoundrel Time, and Posit.. With Jennifer Phelps, Robinson co-edited Quo Anima:innovation and spirituality in contemporary women’s poetry, published in 2019 by University of Akron Press.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 27)

 

Happy Spring, and welcome to Posit 27!

For well over a year, the human race has lived in a state of isolation, anxiety, and loss. And although the pandemic is (hopefully) loosening its grip on some parts of the world (however limited and privileged those may be), it seems apparent that Covid-19 and many of the ways it has changed our lives are likely to be with us for the long run.

Which is only one of the reasons the prose, poetry, and visual art in this wonderful new issue is both resonant and relevant. Some of the pieces in this issue address the pandemic more or less directly (see, e.g., the poetry of Michael Brosnan, Patrick Kindig, and Peter Leight, and the art of Dee Shapiro). Others, with their focus on the paradoxes of our needs for both autonomy and connection, as well as the many kinds of damage caused by isolation and loss, speak to recognizable if less specific facets of our experience in these extraordinary times (see, e.g., the prose works of Joey Hedger and Kylie Hough, or the poetry of Zach Savich).

But all of the remarkable work in this issue demonstrates that “the practice of intention is / its own discovery” (Elizabeth Robinson, Augur) while managing to “shadow twitch with tradition” (Edwin Torres, Northern Star) — even as it manages to meet V. Joshua Adams’s strict but essential demand for “no art without passion” (Another Country [II]).

V. Joshua Adams tallies the absurdities of our present and the thin membrane that separates us from an absurd future: “They sent me to school in the great forest / planted by the timber company where each morning the chaplain / would pray to the trees.” In our consumer world, there’s both fascination and anxiety in “Clever chicken wrap, that fantastic pink,” and we know, unfortunately, that “our lawns, sirs, shall outlive us.” Adams’s clever and indelible images, like “My empire-builder chugs: pa-thump. Those dying generations don’t die quick enough” make the point that we are still, as a society, spewing an outmoded, useless, and dangerous material philosophy.

Michael Brosnan’s In the Meanwhile praises and exhorts us to the noble modesty of a daily life helping others “practice the stubborn art of hope.” Contemplating “the antonym of contempt / In a world so humanly torn,” these verses display a rare and courageous intimacy whose vulnerability (“when I’m drinking alone in a winter-wrapped house, / Eating two-day-old cake and regretting many of my choices”) makes them all the more powerful. Written “with kindled care,” and fully cognizant that “Sometimes our need . . . carries short of anywhere,” this poem “respectfully ask[s us] to trade in our shared notion of progress / For one that will give future life a chance.”

The penetrating insight of Gabe Durham’s fables is slyly embedded in the subjectivities they so deftly voice. There is a dedicated accuracy to the observations that power these morality tales, undergirding the reliability of their fabulist yet subtle whimsy. A Fox in the City voices the vigilance and hunger of all who are marginalized, “living on the fringes” – whether by virtue of their “fox tail,” skin tone, or any other indicia of exclusion. And New People probes the dissatisfaction with the self which motivates our appetite for novelty, even at the cost of morality: “I love the smell of cigars I hate the smell of wafting from the yellow lips of boldly dying new people.”

There is something profoundly reassuring about the smooth solidity of the forms anchoring Christina Haglid’s compositions. More sculptural than two-dimensional in effect, these works on paper depict shapes as concrete and convincing as they are wholly imagined. With their focus on glowing light, gleaming water, and curved matte surfaces in calm, earth-tone palettes, Haglid’s serene yet mysterious compositions open like windows on worlds that both soothe and beckon. To gaze through these windows at Haglid’s imagined realities is to partake of a solace and serenity more vital in these anxious and uncertain times than ever.

Joey Hedger’s short fictions perform magic tricks of narrative economy, exposing the psychological depths of their bereaved narrators’ angst with the barest hints at backstory. In Paper Teeth, the narrator is confronted with a Sybil-like stranger who forces him to confront the fragility he is so keen to avoid, even as he seems bent on provoking its consequences with his self-destructive choices. And in Blurry Exit Signs, the narrator, who “can only focus on the immediate to get by” “as if there is a wall up ahead that [he] will soon hit, an incomprehensible, constantly moving wall,” is triggered by a medical vulnerability to confront the ambivalence of his complicated grief.

Kylie Hough’s wry, smart and self-aware narrators insist they are inarticulate, or sometimes deliberately quiet, but the reader gets the benefit of their very precise thoughts about relationships: “I told you it works like eggs. You shrugged your shoulders, said you never knew. I thought, there are a lot of things you don’t know about eggs and guar gum and binding and being bound.” They speak in startling and unexpectedly resonant images: “Like an egg navigates the oiled sides of a wok there was this feeling I got with you.” And in a darkly humorous imagined dialogue, a particularly controlling male personage is silently served with the narrator’s imagined response: “You’re not thinking of the future, he said and she raised an eyebrow because she was always thinking of how good it would feel to disarticulate him. Can you see you’re torturing yourself? he said. Yes, she thought and took his right leg and plucked it from its socket much like she would a carrot from her vegetable garden.”

Patrick Kindig’s lyric and idiosyncratic exploration of the multiple meanings and usages of the term “corona” includes what we might wish from a perfect definition: resonance, beauty, and surprise. They cannot help but bring to mind the virus which has transformed human life on this planet even as they remind us of the bigger picture: “a sun throwing its voice,” “a shining in the night,” “crown (of light), light (of God).” Each of these short poems begins with another accepted definition. But in Kindig’s dictionary, definitions include instructions (“Get in your crate, sun, and / do as you are told”) as well as philosophical musings (“in a clean, well-lit place, / there is no need for wonder”). And yet there is wonder, too: “a sheen, / a shining in the night, the night / a cloud of air, the air a jar of lightning / unlidded . . . a gesture electric enough / to make the heart beat faster, not / strong enough to cause a spark.”

Peter Leight returns to Posit with lineated and prose poems about the paradoxes of social isolation and organization that are as penetrating as they are understated, and as timeless as they are relevant to our pandemic lives of quarantine and Zoom. In Private Time, the narrator inhabits an isolation so resolutely enclosed that he tell us “I’m leaving the keys to everything I need to open / in a drawer I’m not going to open,” until he must physically pry apart his own lips to speak, or even to offer himself the gift of his own breath. In City of Separation we get an all-too familiar glimpse of the exclusionary rationale for social cohesion, in which “we stay on our side and they stay on theirs.” And in City of Meeting, we see how the cheeriest inclusivity, in which “the same place is reserved for everybody, like a pie chart that’s undivided, without a single wedge,” is also the death of individuality.

Gina Osterloh’s riveting film of a hand grasping at fruit (Apples and Bananas) references an early film by artist Richard Serra, but with a difference. Along with Janis Butler Holm’s hilarious yet thought-provoking textual accompaniment (“their boyish tuna casserole,” “their manliest horizon line”), this film leads viewers to ponder our own gendered expectations, and laugh at their all-too consequential absurdity: “their girly-girl electro shock,” “their fruity naval exercise.” The juxtaposition of adjectives like “girly,” “manliest,” and especially “fruity” with images of literal fruit highlights the artificiality of popular gendered tropes, prodding us to think again about how we have been inculcated to divide our world into such binary absurdities.

The scarf in Elizabeth Robinson’s profound and mysterious long poem acts as an Augur that is at once evanescent yet grounded, transforming, as in a fairy tale or myth, the search for a grail that ultimately contains elements of discovery and destruction. “The promise did not promise / to be beautiful. // The promise was of labor, / not virtue.” It is this grail that “attests / to its existence, but, as always, // refuses to disclose its whereabouts.” The journey has its discoveries: “Broken / perception is a place, even // “home,” if you will,” but there is never a final achievement. The making and breaking, and the almost finding (the scarf both stops our mouths and flees as we follow) are perhaps the only grail we will ever find. But the continued search, painful as it is, “becomes its own imperative,” leading to a kind of joy with which we can make do. In this powerful poem, “Never / a map but a disemboweling, discovery // joyously fractures what it finds” – namely, that “Reciprocity // means also exit.”

Zach Savich returns to Posit with a set of poems that capture the mysterious allure of what is “over by the time you see.” Not only personal mortality, but the fleeting nature of all existence is at the heart of these wise and subtle meditations in which someone procrastinates sending a condolence note “assuming grief will wait, or still be arriving, or be something else, whenever dry becomes preserved,” and “Day mak[es] its losing speeches.” Savich’s work is as precise as it is sensitive, as sorrowful as it is grounded, reminding us that “whatever road is down the road once we’re a few roads / down” “chances are . . . [we]’ll mostly respond / like most people do,” taking our chances that we can find a way to live on with the makeshift solutions we manage to construct.

Dee Shapiro’s art integrates the symmetries and asymmetries of mathematical, architectural, and biomorphic patterns to create work whose energetic mastery encompasses a sense of interconnected complexity as various and inclusive as nature itself. These intricately patterned, brilliantly colored and immensely vibrant works apply feminist narrative to mine and re-envision historical representations of the female body as well as traditionally feminine and ‘decorative’ textile arts to generate a rich, potent, category-defying form of art. This issue features lush and exciting new pieces referencing the Covid pandemic, along with re-interpretations of canonical depictions of the female nude by masters such as Botticelli, Ingres, and Manet.

Hester Simpson’s compact, controlled canvases glow with preternatural intensity. The kinetic, almost vertiginous energy of her geometric patterns and biomorphic shapes presented in such high-octane, super-saturated, candy colors is just barely reined in by Simpson’s rigorous discipline and flawless precision. Many of the compositions are reminiscent of swatches or samples, suggesting the possibility of vast, even infinite planes where these eye-popping patterns might unfold forever. Simpson’s work offers thrilling if tantalizing glimpses of an imagined reality in which the vividness and energy of color and pattern might be freed of the dulling constraints and inhibiting limitations of what we take to be the “real.”

In Celestial Suite, Edwin Torres’s poetic compass encompasses the crossroads and crossings and endless white lines of North, East, West and South to guide our navigation of this “dispossessed globe” in the essential and elusive quest for “not an ending … but a sequence.” With Torres’s signature rhythmic musicality and nimble linguistic turns, these dense and condensed verses explore “the connective tissue of missing imperfections aligned / by the edges of our flight” to reveal “what we say / to hear what we hear.” The process carries the poet’s aphoristic brilliance in a “freefall [that] is exhilarating,” confirming that Torres’s “poetry can anything / if you let it.”

Nance Van Winckel’s witty, thought-provoking collages combine text and old-fashioned images to interrogate the slight and fleeting nature of the self against the scope of historical and even astronomic time. These one-frame marvels juxtapose text and image for an effect that is at once nostalgic, surrealistic, and cerebral. In these works we find Egyptian and early 20th century figures cheerily hailing each other from either side of history; antique diagrams of meteors whose metaphoric relevance to our own brief and tumultuous existence is highlighted by captions identifying their “spectacle of the old self” and “double nature” which “floats free;” a surrealistic building containing a stairwell filled with floating hats, a mountain lake, and a hot air balloon revealing that: “A. we came. B. we gawked. C. we lost ourselves;” and an antique map of the moon heralded by cherubim framing text evoking a self so slight it can “slip through the eye of a needle.”

Using Chinese idioms that themselves have become proverbs, Lucy Zhang skillfully crafts intricate folk fables set in a pastoral past which brilliantly illuminates more timeless meanings. Spear Against Shield explores the predatory relationship between vulnerability, commerce, and violence: “A man is trying to sell a spear and a shield. He boasts that the spear is so strong it can pierce anything. He continues to boast that the shield is so strong it cannot be pierced. When someone asks what will happen if you pierce the shield with the spear, the man falls silent.” And yet, after unsuccessfully haggling with neighbors fearful of war, he offers: “if you buy both a shield and a spear, you’ll get one additional weapon of choice free.” The “addition” abruptly catapults the reader into contemplation of yet another philosophical dilemma. And in Playing Zither for the Cow, a paradox of art-making is revealed by the way a musician’s skill is both best and least appreciated by the musician himself, who “taps and strikes and plucks to the view of the backs of his eyelids” as he “wonders how long it has been since he last listened to his music.”

Thank you for reading — and for doing your part for yourselves and each other by GETTING VACCINATED!

With gratitude and love,

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

Elizabeth Robinson

After the Flood

 

We are walking, slipping on the ice.

 

Earlier today, someone asked me,

“What stake do you have in this?”

 

Later, I ask you

“Did the flood come through here?” and you, gesturing to the expanding field:

 

“It was a fast-moving river, all water.”

 

 

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Here’s the gap,

the place where we once knew solid ground

and now is all movement—

 

Calling over the man who was flying a sign at Arapahoe and Broadway,
I handed him the thawing, sloppy food I’d carried down the flooded hill.

Stupid with trauma. All of us.

 

The loudspeakers blaring, “Leave immediately. Seek higher ground.”

But the flood didn’t simply rise from below;
it rushed down from above.

 

 

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Later, when the man suddenly shows up at the shelter

after months gone,

I hit him with a rolled up newspaper:

 

“Where have you been? You had me worried!”

 

Then we both laughed. Then

 

he’s gone again, limping in memory.

 

My attentions are crude, raw.

 

I begin to think that all attention is a form of loss

 

because it cannot create perfect reciprocity

with its focus.

 

 

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I remembered trying to cross the street and

being unable to. That current.

 

How to explain the utility of loss and fear?

 

How to explain that the fragmentary quality of my love for

 

you
and you and
you is enough,

 

even if it is as inconsistent

 

as the comings and goings of the many who

present themselves to be loved.

 

 

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The logbook says he returned, got a bus ticket,

one day when I was out sick.

 

Exhausted with the effort of paying attention,
of making present to my awareness
the ones whose presence is fundamentally
homeless.

 

Those whose presence is fundamentally unhoused.

 

What is your stake in this?

 

We love, if we love, inside every increment of error, forgetfulness, panic.

 

 

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I stammer, “I believe—my

experience—is that

there is a Divine who loves

all of us—all of it.”

You ask, “And why would some people never

experience that?”

 

Incomprehension is not always the same as doubt:

“I don’t know.”

 

 

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Walking outside in the cold with you, I do not say that I have a dying tooth and its

dying will reassert itself as pain when I am inside again, in

the warm air.

 

The weather, captive to its own movements, may freeze the ground,

but it doesn’t tell us who we are as we fall and scramble to right ourselves.

 

It doesn’t awaken pain by its warm absence.

 

 

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This partial, this fragment, this self-as-errant

blunders on.

 

The world, we may agree, is ending badly.

 

But inside despair

 

there are ameliorating coincidences.
There are pleasures. I have a loving

 

commitment

to hearing the erotic talk of the two owls

who perch on the dark peak of the garage across the street.

 

 

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A man disabled by his stutter tells me haltingly that

on the best of days he can say this much:

—he shapes his hands to a small box in the air—

 

when there is this much

—broad gesture of arms—

in his mind.

 

I lack the whole story while

the story itself corrodes or the current

carries it

out of reach.

 

I have peace only in some part as,

in passing, it attends to me.

 

 

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Despair may always be true, with its glare.

Its greedy light
blanches the surround of all color.

 

Beside or aside it, rapture has its own kind of patience,

groping in the dark.

 

I, with my keen scent, sniff it in, but am still dim, thick not knowing whether

presence is coming or going.

 

Elizabeth Robinson is the author, most recently, of Blue Heron (Center for Literary Publishing) and Rumor (Parlor Press/Free Verse Editions). Vulnerability Index is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press in 2019. With Jennifer Phelps, Robinson co-edited the critical anthology Quo Anima: innovation and spirituality in contemporary women’s poetry, which is forthcoming from University of Akron Press.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 19)

 

Welcome to Posit 19!  If literature is a movable feast, then the prose and poetry in this issue is especially rich: rich in imagination, rich in resonance, and rich in story.

Given that, as Buzz Spector points out, “in modern America / we need a new understanding of myth” (In Modern America), we’ve brought together a variety of tales whose brevity belies the depth of their emotional register, as does the thin and potent line on which they tread — or rather, dance: between universal and specific, archetype and individual. We’re thinking not only of the powerful prose of Jefferson Navicky, Marvin Shackelford, Stephen Nelson, and Daniel Uncapher, but also (since, as Matthew Cooperman reminds us in Gaseous Ode, “we don’t have to balkanize”) the lineated verses of Elizabeth Robinson’s After the Flood, Adam Day’s ‘neighbor’ poems, David Rock’s ‘homunculus’ poems, and Tongo Eisen-Martin’s unvarnished yet rousing evocations of our shamefully culpable polis.

And stretching that thin line even further to challenge the notion of authorship itself, we include a remarkable sampling of Laurie Kolp’s centos, and Buzz Spector’s collage poems.

Here’s what you will find in this delicious issue:

In Matthew Cooperman’s diverse trio of new poems, “[p]oetry readings are pretty cool but the format’s all wrong,” although “the awkward fumbling human figure and voice . . .[is] a good messenger” due, perhaps, to the way “senses / merge in the strange O chasm of the throat.” With unpretentious erudition, sonorous fluency, and a relaxed mastery of the line, he contemplates the Mother, the “Futurity of [her] Absence, stitchery in its indigo” and asks “What is it to make same and different? / What is it to make a difference?” when “[t]he earth is hot tonight with all of its angers.” Perhaps it is to “write a poem / with everything in it — ‘a beautiful abundance’” like we find in these rich new works.

With irresistible grace and unflinching directness, Adam Day’s terse, tightly-packed verses probe the resonant physicality of nameless but entirely specific, deeply recognizable ‘neighbors.’ These poems are populated with Everywomen and men who, like our ‘real’ neighbors, “believe most fantastic statements; nothing / to do with truth but opinions // which change” in this “[w]orld bent // on splitting itself” in a time — this time — when “[h]istory / [is] deformed by facts no longer.”

Turning his powerful attention to the forgotten and the ignored in plain sight, Tongo Eisen-Martin embraces his “new existence as living graffiti” to expose how “[t]he ruling class floats baskets of swathed neighborhoods off to be adopted” according to the “terrible rituals they have around the corner. . . let[ting] their elders beg for public mercy …beg for settler polity.” In a history covered up and buried by religion, “heaven sure is secretive” despite “[t]he staircase under this slavery / And one hundred slaves.” On these streets, in this country, Eisen-Martin deeply listens, making it impossible not to hear: “please give me / spare change and your word that I won’t be missing in a year,” since, “as is the custom, two humans make a humanity.”

In these haunting poems, Jessica Goodfellow sends us postcards from insomnia and relates grief to the “paradox of Gabriel’s Horn” which “can be explained by the method of infinitesimals, by partitions so small you can never see them.” Postcards evokes the punishing wakefulness of “all night turning sinistral shells over and over in your hand. At daybreak, lobbing them back into the sea,” at times when “[t]he night sky might think of stars as scars — pinpoints where memory burns and burns” — not unlike the revived bereavement that strikes when we reconsider what we thought we knew, “stupidly forgetting” what the reader of these poems cannot, that “depthless means both shallow and unfathomably deep.”

Built entirely from the phrasings of other poets, Laurie Kolp’s centos display remarkable conceptual unity as well as seamless musicality. These poems combine lines by poets such as Neruda, Frost, Bukowski, Smith, and Voung to trace the arcs of their internal arguments with a grace which not only gives the lie to the dread anxiety of influence, but poses a fundamental challenge to our concept of the meaning — and the significance — of originality. In so doing, they broaden our idea of what constitutes poetic ‘material,’ and demonstrate the transformative impact of context.

In Matthew Kosinski’s hands, the poetic phrase beguiles and challenges in equal measure, daring us to keep up with the honed force of its clarity and paradox. Like the “savior music” they describe, these verses “accomplish transfiguration” by ranging “from a shiver to a howl” in the face of which, happily, “conventional wisdom balks.”

Jefferson Navicky’s bracingly original yet understated tales flicker between the surreal and the recognizable. The Butler’s Life depicts an unexpected and yet recognizable servitude, considering how much we will sacrifice to avoid abandoning another post. And the dark fairy tale, Moon Park, contemplates what we will do to “smell all the smells under the smells,” and “hear what’s really there.”

Stephen Nelson’s The Woods Are Mine tweaks such tropes of the 19th century novel as the train, the woods, the castle, the Duke, the convent, and the intimate narration by a mysterious stranger who “wanted people in passing trains to see [him] covered in leaves” because he “thought that might be of interest.” In Nelson’s hands, these familiar elements are subtly and intriguingly skewed, inhabiting a dream-like world in which “[t]he clouds were entertaining divas” and “[t]he leaves were sad songs the man hummed along to;” an interior world, perhaps, in which “nothing can ever be proven” and “[t]here is no political answer for loneliness.”

In After the Flood, Elizabeth Robinson ponders the uneasy state of our relationship to nature and each other. “What is your stake in this?” the narrator is asked, while volunteering at a homeless shelter. Although she offers food to a man “whose presence is fundamentally unhoused” he ends up disappearing. It occurs to her “that all attention is a form of loss because it cannot create perfect reciprocity with its focus.” Nonetheless, despite the fact that “[t]he world, we may agree, is ending badly,” “there are ameliorating coincidences. There are pleasures.” Perhaps the poet’s stake, and our own, is that “[d]espair may always be true, with its glare,” but “beside or aside it, rapture has its own kind of patience, groping in the dark.”

David Rock’s meditations on human agency borrow Descartes’ notion of the ‘homunculus’ to juxtapose and collapse the trappings of ordinary contemporary life with that of a Tibetan Monk, Odysseus, the victims of the Siege of Leningrad, and Moses, demonstrating that “[a]ll situations are life-and-death situations” in a reality, like ours, in which “the world could always end / but hasn’t” and “it would be a shame / to bail on what’s left of a pretty good party.”

Marvin Shackelford returns to Posit with two more exceptional stories, proffering their characteristically unsentimental but deeply compassionate insight into the messy interior of the human predicament. With masterful, economical, and often lyrical prose, these stories suggest what it is to “take to the world and empty your soul into it,” trying your best to get “’[f]ar as forever until now gets you.”

Even while they fashion new wholes from the found language, colors, and textures which Buzz Spector dismantles and reassembles, his collages underscore the pervasive quality of disconnection permeating literary culture “in modern America” — especially “the dangerous effects of living a lie.” What emerges from these recombined and fractionated book blurbs floating on colored paper fields are meta-texts built from meta-texts. The results not only expose but repurpose the misleading grandiosity of blurbs as a cultural convention — even, and perhaps especially, in the face of their raison d’être, as inherently secondary to the books they praise. In the process, these collages offer a clear but pixelated view — and hence, critique — of the culture from which they spring: the “hypocrisies, and desires” “that characterize our historical moment.”

And Daniel Uncapher’s Vanishing Point is a hypnotic incantation to an individual psyche (Sam) as well as to the infinite multiplicity of psyches contemplated by reincarnation (Samsara). In this rhythmic, compelling litany of sound and image, the narrator’s identity “remain[s] a mystery” even as we “[come] to terms with far more impenetrable myths.” This piece opens the reader’s mind to no less than “the defining quality of things” inherent in the beautiful truth of “meaning without mark, presence without trace . . . the suprastructure of mappable worlds.”

With our gratitude for your interest and attention,

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

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Welcome to the visual art of Posit 19!

Gabe Brown offers a beautifully designed meditation upon the balance between the natural and man-made worlds. Her thoughtfully constructed paintings consistently evoke a gentle back and forth between naturalistic elements and a synthesized universe. They are suffused with rich and generous color which harmonizes the elements in each painting to imagine the possibility of an artistic universe free of conflict, suffused by beauty and delight.

Riffing on the form of hat known as a ‘fez,’ Camille Eskell works with complex notions of identity, cultural heritage, and religion. Her pieces tell her own family story, tracing their journey through the Middle East and India. At the same time, this work embraces a wider sense of history and storytelling, posing questions applicable to all families with rich and complex histories. Exquisitely crafted from both traditional and non- traditional materials, this body of work is deeply moving, even as it transcends genres.

Though the timeline of the work represented here is wide, this selection demonstrates Melissa Meyer’s longstanding interest in collage, and the consistent way in which she has approached it. The works from the early 70’s reveal deep connections to the pieces from 2018. Rich layers of jewel-tones carry an almost musical beat, and her forms practically dance off the page. They are joyful and vibrant, expressing a deep love of the medium, and of the act of creation.

In his current work, Joakim Ojanen creates a gentle, funny, universe full of humor and emotion. His deceptively childlike figures portray a profoundly human desire to connect with each other, and with and us. They smile at the viewer with a delicate and goofy plea to be liked. Ojanen creates a beguiling mixture of tenderness, humor, innocence, and technical sophistication. Working in clay and simple glazed colors, he captures the small moments in life that often linger in our memories.

Etty Yaniv’s densely layered assemblage and collage works make one keenly aware of the materiality of her practice. Her pieces pop off of the canvas, and then sink back into it. The fluidity with which her rich and wide array of materials are handled —from found objects to paint and paper — creates the impression that her pieces were “born” the way we find them. Although labor- and process-intensive, this work has a deep sense of grace. Each of these pieces carries us through its private narrative, enveloping us in its own story.

Enjoy!

Melissa Stern