Michael Boughn

II.3.ii Mermaids, Arise!

When she comes, the mountain quivers
with pleasure and boxes
without topses
will be a subject
of exquisite scholarship. The mermaids
having been declared
by National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, wonder what hit
them but having multiple
resources at their fintips
moving to the city
to blend in

The mountain, meanwhile
having discovered itself
half way to heaven and recovered
its composure
wonders at how
shifting titles and revelations
yet to come leave behind
seismic destinies of less
than obvious
demarcation. Such is the way
of fish and men in elusive
reflection of troubled water’s
rippled face and a sudden
church in near distance

The city
disturbed by eruptions of distended
ectoplasmic power surges
meant to level resistance
to announcements
from the Administration, refuses to go
back into the box
of non-speculative
determinations reduce elemental
bon mots into simple
minded slogans
designed to provide
faux vegetables
to an audience
entranced by the sight of stuff
glowing behind windows
in the night
Leaking radiance
is also an event even under
the grey dome
For the sun to become
the earth, certain questions
with the stress on quest, must
enter the arena of passion’s
Transmutation is no
mere sleight of hand, more
of the eye as it grips down
into an earth of unexpectedly rich
vocabulary that leaves it
strangely speechless

The end
of mermaids is a well-known
goal of reasonable Administrations dead
set on settling
once and for all
errant spasms of imagination
serious violations threaten
the very definition of minstrel
leading to diminished expectorations
of figuratively speaking
loose ends
After that, who knows? The next
stop may look palatial
from outside
but lacking mermaids tends
toward tawdry points of cheap
splayed along road’s thoughtless
abuse of space
is not just about money but a
poverty of inter-dimensional feedback
breeding pockets of ulronic
loggerheads and abutments
of lifeless seas
They stretch
down roads with no terminal
satisfaction beyond redemption’s
siren call which
though relying on the power
of cliché
gets back to mermaids while
foretelling after the fact myths
of woven night
Having been proven
above and beyond all reasonable
limitations not to occupy
narrow sectors of space
time stripped of nutrient
conjecture, they are left
to move on to more interesting
critics and congeries
of terrors that slip the leash
of actuarial inventions, risk free
as far as predictable liability
goes, but not
so hot when eyes of fire
enter the equation throwing
ontic seizures around
objective contents and stirring up
metaphysical shit
with So-shu’s fabled pole

The attraction
of the city toward elements
of questionable repute will always
find a way
in to its face
even pink
with the flush of sunrise
reading it over and over
in multiple registers as they pass
from water to air, air to water
idly of further passages
arm in arm with the mountain
beyond the ninth sphere

Michael Boughn’s most recent book, City, Book 1 — Singular Assumptions, was published by Book Thug in 2014. City, Book 2 — Other Climates, is due out from Book Thug in October,2015. He lives in Toronto.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 6)


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!

Melissa Stern

Editors’ notes

Welcome to Posit 1!

It is with the greatest pleasure that I present this inaugural issue. From now on, whenever I am asked what kind of writing Posit is looking for, I will point to the work in this volume, which shares a quality I hope to make Posit’s hallmark: its combination of homo- and heterogeneity. Homogeneously excellent, by which I mean both original and accomplished. Yet heterogeneous in form and style. Diverse, as well, in origin, harking from Ottawa, Toronto, Rockhampton, Australia, New York, Kentucky, California, San Antonio, and Olympia, Washington. I believe that re-contextualization gives rise to re-conception – that a luminous energy emerges from the cross-talk sparked by the juxtaposition of voices as divergent as the ones assembled here.

I hope you agree, and that you enjoy the great Michael Boughn’s Whitmanesque “City II.2.iv – Flirtations of light,” singing the promise and dread of urban life in this masterful and tantalizing excerpt; Mary Kasimor’s dazzling sampler of rigorous, lapidary explorations of lyric’s cerebral and aesthetic potential, crafted and turned to frameworks of implication as sharp and graceful as razor-wire lace; the grave entertainment of Amy King’s intellectual joy-ride of verbal pyrotechnics, warning and pleasing us at once, offering treats and lifelines to help “make sense of the contagion/we call today;” Travis and JenMarie MacDonald’s playful yet probing lyric departures from Dr. Who, as grave and light of touch as the Doctor himself, and, like the Tardis, improbably expansive; rob mclennan’s entries from his Glossary of Musical Terms, whose intensity of encapsulation and fragmentation shatters preconceived ideas of word and note, generating an energetic lexicon for new connections; Bernd Sauermann’s compressed, delicate, chiseled blocks of verbal and intellectual alchemy, as quietly shocking as a “revelation making its way like mad current up my arm;” R.L. Swihart’s spare, incantatory, verbal fragments taken up and dropped like stitches connecting our shared experience of the dread unspoken; Rob Talbert’s deceptively plain-spoken, unflinching perspicacity, hiding twist after brilliant turn in plain sight, working the seam between heart and mind, lament and appreciation, elegy and critique; Brad Vogler’s meditations on what cannot, will not, or need not be said, magically drawing our quieted attention to the syntax and typography of stillness itself; Mark Young’s deliciously understated verbal artifacts, turning our expectations of allusion and ekphrasis, realism and surrealism, artifice and nature, art and commerce on their heads via splashes of “Frankendolling,” the “sonnets of Michelangelo,” and other inversions; and finally, Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon’s spare, precise, and gravely playful “The Ruler of Rusted Knees,” deftly uniting the verbal and the visual.

Finally, a few appreciations.

To the accomplished and celebrated contributors who so generously entrusted their work to this fledgling publication: my deepest gratitude.

To those contributors who are editors as well: Joanna Fuhrman (Ping Pong), Travis and JenMarie MacDonald (Fact-Simile), rob mclennan (Chaudiere Books, above/ground books,etc.),  Brad Vogler (Opon), and Mark Young (Otoliths): the excellence you bring to both endeavors is my inspiration for this undertaking.

To the talented artist and website designer Nathan Gwirtz: thank you for converting my ideas into (virtual) reality.

And to my friend and collaborator, Arts Editor Melissa Stern, thank you for joining me in this venture!

But perhaps most importantly, to you, dear reader: thank you for visiting Posit 1. I hope you are glad you did.


Susan Lewis

* * * * *

Beginning with this, our inaugural issue, Posit will showcase a variety of visual artists working in all mediums, whose work we find thoughtful, provocative, funny, dangerous, or just plain beautiful. Each issue will bring together galleries by three to six artists whose work presents a vision that is both individually and collectively unique.

I am honored that Susan Lewis has chosen me to accompany her on this voyage, and hope that you will join us from issue to issue.

For Posit 1, it is my pleasure to present the work of three artists whose work shares a sense of elegance and grace. In these galleries, Michael Janis creates sublime narratives of extraordinary depth and dimensionality through the laborious fusing of layer upon layer of laminated glass, bringing precision and construct to a parallel universe where science and reason adhere to their own logic; while Leah Oates’ gentle layers of image and tone build mysterious photographic journeys through countryside and city; a theme taken up by Kyle Gallup’s celebration of the past and possibility of New York, from Coney Island to old theater marquees, alternately documenting a world long-gone and fashioning a fantasy of what it might have been.

Happy viewing!

Melissa Stern

Michael Boughn

City II.2.iv —  Flirtations of light


scattered, broken on its

wheel, warming to sun’s wash

across their face is

as enlightened as

it gets

They swell

and hum

in stone-specific key

for ages

The city hears it

in crushed bones and up

through layers of accumulated


Does it buzz?

Is it

a beat in angel-thrummed

bridge wire? Morning kisses

and blushes

Bursting in another

direction toward earth

thrill, opening chosen in midst

of each habit


drops first,

then tulips, then

riot of shape and hew

petal-specific, fragrance passes

as reality once calculable

illusions are left in the dust

of city’s dream of dawn’s


How romantic is that, though

questions remain — where’s

are, who’s here, what’s


Getting to the arena on time

for example. And as Jack said

the Air Force Academy


that. Disposing of errant intrusions

of uncomfortable disposition

may obscure the question

but it lingers in moonlight’s foreshadowing

new nights in which night



shadow discriminations, leave

day loose among its bearings bringing

down the house of alternate

hands in a clamour of crashing
vanities of time and space


of water and stone is neither

name nor

outcome, but that doesn’t mean

it can’t be heard in time between

time’s tapping out unlikely

licks.  Sheer vibratory overload

hums trajectories – trajections, really,

story’s arc, costly delusion


this together has brought

into law

of horizon’s  subtraction

The law

of horizon’s subtraction doesn’t

hum, more of a drone, sound

of leaden with gratuitous

overtones to lend

a blush to semblance

of alive

The Air Force

Academy remains the joker

ubiquitous sign of not just limit

but eventual embrace necessary

to resuscitation of transparent

medium as a vehicle for open

horizons to possible reach

into edge

Beyond is another

matter displacing misleading

metaphors but refusing to budge

from top of the sentence

still promising a period

It’s all

so clear until the city

enters through back

door resembles nothing

so much as familiar

turn of phrase

What is the colour

of stars and what happened to terraces

as determinants of urban splendour

take us to new encounter

with question of remains

clinging to flirtation which assumes

an aura of uneasy


Then the Air Force

Academy glows well beyond

antithetical absence and hums

a few bars of

off we go

into the wild blue yonder

before admonishing

bound earth

fantasies to give it up


is another name for that as it

leaves Yankee rock piles

trying to catch wheels spinning

madly down the road and reeling

from metaphor to mixed


Giving it a name

flirts, a brush

of light on neck’s curve or glass

tower’s face

and if Martians land

in the sentence, it’s because

invasions happen and only a fool

would say no

No, not a fool

who is another name for it

but a hunger

artist starving for the glory

of pain bound refusal buttressed hard

case anthem

In the second town

Martians walk down Bloor

and no one thinks twice about loon

call rings the air out

of blue to new attention

Michael Boughn was described in the Globe and Mail as “an obscure, veteran poet with a history of being overlooked.” He spends much of his time in hockey arenas in dubious corners of Toronto.