Joanna Penn Cooper

How to Make Movements

The forfeit & victuals are your life. Take the weird specific advice.
—Mia Nussbaum, “Saw This & Marked It”

You could go for years without fixing your mouth.

A bad feelings machine.

Between the hours of 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., someone assembles a rink for curling in the apartment above yours, a challenge when you are trying to medal in naptime. They with their sweaters and brooms. Impersonal exuberance.

The guy in your bed follows your movements around the apartment with his gaze. Becomes alarmed when you go through doorways.

He is not a mascot. His alarm and bonhomie his own engine. Origin?

How to remember this is your actual life.

The only advice: Turn on the fan during curling time.

“Is this black embroidery what we have now for trees?” is something you dreamed the baby said. Or something you read before sleep.

Unequal Bittersweet

Having passed April’s low hurdles, I feel you like a corner.
—Maureen Thorson, “Rocking the Pathetic Fallacy”

1.
There were further portents
Like Jane Eyre’s split oak
Jung’s split table when he split with Freud
Johnny Cash cracking the ceiling with his thought vibrations

The family photo falling off the wall

One plant growing tall, the other stunted

One year, I carried a blue rock with me everywhere
or green— the rock was green
I can feel it in my palm
hidden in my coat pocket
when I had to be on a bus
in a city alone
on the way to a job

unmoored
but holding my power
in my little raccoon hands on the bus

In other years,
the presence on the ceiling

the dream of someone throwing a baby
someone catching it

The door ajar

2.
How many more Easters do we have together?
It depends what you mean by we/ by together

3.
The baby slouches in his stroller in a red hoodie,
the velcro of one red sneaker undone, as is his preference
tousled brown hair,
gold in the son sun

He is tired
covers his ears when a siren goes by a few blocks away
makes a gesture when he wants another ice cube
fingertips of each hand to the thumb, tapping his hands together

This is a person doing the hard work of understanding more words
than he is able to speak

There’s a grace to how he’s doing it
(Knock wood
Dress a decoy of a boy so the gods or devils don’t know where he lives
or know where he lives
Daimons, not demons my motto)

A few people in the neighborhood look at him appreciatively, slouched there,
cooler than Iggy Pop
“Man is together,” one woman even says (or something like that)

We will make our own luck
Nobody here but us chickens

Joanna Penn Cooper’s full-length collections are What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press, 2014) and The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014). She lives in Durham, NC. More information can be found at joannapenncooper.com.

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

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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.

Enjoy!

—Melissa Stern