Gregory Crosby

The Marquis of Sad


Freedom is melancholy; melancholy, freedom.
At least, that’s what the weird sisters told me.

Once spoken, every word is true, even
all the words yoked to great chains of lies.

I never go down to the river for fear
of finding myself on the opposite bank,

not knowing how I came to be there,
miles from any crossing. But I can hear it.

I can hear the rocks suffering the rapids,
the teeming foam of my mind searching for

the tarn of Auber. It’s always in the first
place you look, always in the very last line.

If I say my heart is heavy, it’s because
my heart dowses water; the hidden spring

tugs at it like an impatient child. Now?
it asks. Now? Then when? When? Are we there yet?


The Knight always stands in stark contrast
to Melencolia: his action & resolve opposed

to her pensive, passive hours, but look again
to his face beneath his helm. Look at his eyes.

He already feels the dragon’s neck beneath
his boot heel & he’s sorry to have ever heard

of damsels, princesses, sacrifices.
Look again at her face: the look of one who

goes to war knowing there is no victory,
only survival. Those who live to fight

another day know the days are endless…
days upon days, forever armed to the teeth.


I know that the person who uses the word
escapist as a pejorative is most likely

a jailer. A cow caught running in the street
ahead of its slaughter date was returned

to the butcher who declined to kill it,
turning it over to a sanctuary

where no one is eaten by anything but
time. Once in a while, the universe is so

magnanimous that it breaks your heart in two.
It comes back to you, this story, whenever

you fire up the grill to the sound of your
empty stomach, the coals aching with red.


Here in the Bastille of Monday morning,
Sunday morning comes down with a fever,

dying for lack of water, a word of kindness.
From the cell of the warden’s office, I rejoice.

When the rabble tear this week down, brick by brick,
this is what I will miss the most: the quiet

hour where I sign, with a flourish, another
letter of resignation that no one will accept.


Everybody dies alone & that is beautiful.
Of course, it sounds funny when you sing it.

There are some gestures that can only be seen,
never felt. Unless you make them yourself.

Noblesse oblige requires me to tell you this.
Now, please, let me eat my cake (here’s a slice for you).

Solstice Goddamn

Summer doesn’t care about elections.
The moon, she is full, with no more fucks to give.
All this death another sticky note: Live!

Every moment is a course correction;
we have overcorrected. Connections
without connecting. No time to relive

the ravenous instant, the open sieve.
The breeze, she never makes any objections.
I’m gonna take off my shoes, climb a tree,

& learn to play the flute. The grass is dying
to be crushed under you. The stars unseen
would give their last light to be in Arcadia,

too. There’s a suit of heat rising to clothe you
in sky blue, in dark clouds of thunderous now,
threatening from an unimaginable height.

Imagine it. The bee buzzing in your blood.
The longest longing day, stretching out to meet
your shadow amidst the shadows of the flood.

Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (The Operating System, 2014) and The Book of Thirteen (Yes Poetry, 2016). He teaches creative writing in the College Now program at Lehman College.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 13)


Spring may be imminent, but, as will likely be the case for some time to come, this issue of Posit arrives in less-than-optimistic times. However, once again, the work in this issue has the potential to address, and even salve, our pervasive distress, in ways that are no less satisfying for being indirect. Much of the art in this issue is about making — and all of it makes the case for the value of its having been made. Which is to say, for the value of art itself — not as luxury, as the current US regime might have it — but as emotional, intellectual necessity. One facet of which is its uncanny capacity to speak to situations that did not exist when it was created. Although the poetry and prose in this issue was written before the advent of the current political crisis, many of these pieces find a way to speak to it. Thus, that “we have somehow, / in haste and hubris, walked / into a deep night” is, unfortunately, incontestable (Matthew Burns, The Border). As is the fact that “even sanity ain’t sane today” (Anselm Berrigan, Degrets). Or that we are asked to believe that “once spoken, every word is true, even / all the words yoked to great chains of lies” (Gregory Crosby, The Marquis of Sad).

Happily, the works in this issue also have “a harmony that makes us forget the incontestable” (Dennis Barone, Vast Oculus). For one thing, we are reminded “not to fear the truth, to understand the neighbor, the houses, and this land” (Vast Oculus). And we are offered the grave and ethereal beauty of G.C. Waldrep’s “root & its entourage / ark-in-the-forest, / zither-lit & -strung” (first person). We are exhorted, with ringing, if enigmatic, energy, to “substitute optimistically!” (Rae Armantrout, Going Somewhere). Which I take the liberty of interpreting, at least in part, as an injunction to continue making, and imbibing, the arts, including:

Rae Armantrout’s tantalizing chains of Delphic utterances, guiding our gaze in “the fullness of time” from the spare beauty of the resonant particulars to the universes coiled within them, bringing to mind Bashō, W. C. Williams, Hansel and Gretel, and the inspiriting newborn whose “just opened eyes / see we can’t see what;”

Dennis Barone’s Vast Oculus, opening its generous aperture from the tangible familiar to “another world . . . beyond the armchair — like the point of a rapier” in prose that captures the ultimate essence of poetry, “leap[ing] from the enormous weight” of reality to “follow ideas without bodies;”

The urgent yet playful poetics of Anselm Berrigan’s Pregrets, Degrets, and Regrets, which may not expect “fragment bump” but delivers that and more, “revers[ing] the outer corners until specific arrival” of something very much like revelation “mandates itself / into existence” despite the possibility that there may be “no time for poems / with all this e-sociology poised to bite in disparate / need of absolute paragons;”

Matthew Burns’ lithe and slender verse columns exploring absence and corporeality, boundaries and trajectories, hope and despair: “zero / being nothing / but, like / the past: / still there / and affecting” as these spare and melancholy verses;

James Capozzi’s eerily relevant evocations of the demise of the mighty, from Nimrod, “basted by the city’s voice” to the conquistadores, having lost the nerve to defend their “sham heaven” in the face of the “troubling questions” posed by the earth they have just torched;

Rob Cook’s sharp yet lyrical elegies to the existential divide between self and other, be they one’s own shadow or the companion of one’s dreams, until even “the wind is just my shadow / moving its weapons from tree to tree;”

Gregory Crosby’s aphoristic verses masterfully evoking the pathos and humor of existence in which “[a]ll this death [is] another sticky note: Live!” in a universe “so / magnanimous that it breaks your heart in two;”

Julia Leverone’s exploration of the paradoxical interdependence of creation and destruction, adhesion and repulsion, as voiced by an unregretful Medusa hoping “never to return to the beforehand” and a lover observing the “force of keeping / together against pulling away;”

Caolan Madden’s penetrating exploration of isolation, “[t]he silence, the league of witches . . . that unclaimed feeling,” along with the ambivalence of a mother who doesn’t “want to grow up I want to spoil” rather than “fold . . . up her I” “when [the baby] made [her] shape known;”

F. Daniel Rzicznek’s prose poems from Leafmold, an inventory of poetic makings, including dogs and doctors, hawks and herons, history and science, “[i]naccuacies and errata smuggled via alternate versions of this weird life” brilliantly assembled, not “to deliver something heinous . . . but a text like a free state, a paregoric of the brain;”

Alina Stefanescu’s high-octane prose pieces expanding from a sense of lived experience (insomnia, scars, selfies) to wider implications in “this era of anodyne-paradigms pocked upon our model houses” where “a promise might be less than an omen as a toothache is less than a broken jar as a head circles the room without one single landing strip in sight;”

and G.C. Waldrep’s elegant, emotionally charged jewels of melodic and depictive compression, “lobed with the literal,” in which “the dream sweeps / through, & puts music away–,” evoking worlds in each parsed and potent word — luminous worlds in which meaning and music are not only married, but inseparable.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the newest member of the Posit team. Carol Ciavonne is an accomplished poet, teacher, editor, and past contributor, who promises to bring discernment, dedication, and generosity to her work as Associate Editor. We are delighted and grateful to welcome her aboard.

With thanks to you, our readers, for being here.
Susan Lewis


Welcome to the visual art of Posit 13!

Nathan Brujis makes lyrical and luscious abstract paintings, loosely based on nature and autobiographical experience. Working in a rich palette of saturated colors, he weaves ribbons of form in, under, over, and around one another. These canvases hint at abstract narratives while always retaining their joyful exploration of the painting process.

The almost ritualistic patternings of Jeanne Heifetz’s drawings are hypnotic. They seem to meander across the page, yet there is always an underlying logic to the journey of her lines. Using a visual ordering system based on the branching of natural structures, her work investigates the organic growth of form and the movement of marks on paper.

Eva Kwong’s miraculous sculptures exist somewhere between the natural and fabricated worlds. Drawing upon her interest in the spiritual and visual interconnectedness of the universe, she creates beautiful objects that manage to make reference to many different realities simultaneously. Her animated sculptures delight the eye while defying categorization.

The sculptures of Greely Myatt build upon the notion of “transformation.” His impeccably crafted found and fabricated mixed-media sculptures are funny and provocative, playing with artistic and social conventions in an amusing and elegant manner. Myatt references everything from rural southern culture to contemporary art, creating both installation and intimate scale works that welcome the viewer in, with a wink and a nod.

And Brian Sargent’s deep dive photographic investigations into light and the landscape capture an eerie mood. The sky seems on the verge of dusk, the light fading… or is it about to dawn? They are full of mystery and quietude. The occasional flash of a silhouetted figure, a ghost or a vision? The choice is yours.

I hope you enjoy!
Melissa Stern