Samuel Ace

An ocean-like hush

An ocean-like hush and carpet trails       light from the bathroom window just on the other side of the door     I wake to quiet on the streets     no deal on the corner     no house of friends     I sit unattached with barns     opera girls and faint little buddhas     I listen to the tides      to currents and brakes     bakers of heroic scones     the tarnished burdens of socks nested in drawers     my head rests under a boy exhausted from a long-gone war     there he sleeps     naked on a cot as the north of the mountains pours into our heads     I too am exhausted from war and lie curled in his armpit     I wonder about his smell     his black and white lips     the ocean’s hush     as if the distant salt of skin     will heal me

Simple pansies     goat-haired on the green table     I hear them so faintly      a tremble of peeps     there’s no explanation for this great shedding     the cough that pushes out of my sickness     there’s no signature walking down the road     no routine     no posture of papers     no grand divorce

The prayers that saved me were necessary     empty of noise from anyone living     they did not invite me out     they did not care for my masochism nor did they know my pretense     they did not darn or knit or settle debts     they did not know a garden of dousers or this long heat

The airport slot machines in Las Vegas     all glitter and broken sidewalks     the over-the-shoulder laughter behind the weather reports       minus 7 in Buffalo     I’m shaking open a plastic bag     underwater in my grandfather’s fedora     wide-awake with spirits talking in shoes     a sieve of coral and little fish      passing through

I beg you to stay unformed     to consider entropy on a permanent basis       but you come something out of nothing and the mansions of my house are ever cordial          they invite you close      drawing you in the low mumble of bees     the rustle of bells       a follicle of carriages       cavernous with horse breath in the snow

I find you in the winds     your legs covered in fur      I find the felt slippers that hold the shape of your feet     I find your red beard and the darker hairs on your chest      I find you in an arm      a northern gulf to a southern gulf           I find you speaking in sheets
in  the  scratched crystal  of the  watch my sister  passed on  to me
she said my father was wearing it when he died     I first thought the face said ark but the little hand stopped just there and buried the word     at the bottom it read Himalaya      no leather      no crystal      no Rolex       but merely indents in the nylon band from the daily circles of his wrist       the scrapes next to his hand of push-ups and snow shovels       of books and subways

Like snows at dawn the porcelain dancers in the window stand on powder-blue bases                 silvery and vigorous with possibility      some neon       some pastel       some hyper-real with acid lemon boutonnières and spats         toes an urgent Degas red the lips on the filigreed boy a tender charcoal           the smooth mound of his crotch vertiginous and sylvan        dampened from sweat or a careless pee       we smell that the tights need to be changed but we wait in a room full of laborers      a long journey to come      our nights scavenged in a sleep of mortars

We sing with the trains      the soldiers      the graves      we sing with the ash     our songs rousing the barn owls and the bottom-most whales       asleep in the bracken      we watch them walk out of the mud without legs      growling and minty

Three women bring horses                three others make slings for the dense matter of broken things        the golden uncertain bark the soft sands and the smells of decay       we glimpse the brown promise of gardens       the slow heavy journey to the edge of the sea

Whispers in the marshes      the long-beaked 10 p.m. birds pass through and in those angel skins we wake with a hint of going     of loss          then a sending cinder          a let go hallelu          a lotus rumbling and former-bodied      in the rinse of outrage      we become thick around gods and grasses      looking for old names in doorframes      the middle roads of half-mooned cherries       the hollow curves of coal in dark rummage

We drive toward the ocean       not braking for the rim       streams of forests and slate cliffs covered in carvings of praise       we bring our boots and our cashmere      but we are not coming back      we do not tell anyone about the dread       the persistent swimmer who sinks then breathes then sinks then breathes again   reaching toward the next boat

We walk with the night-blooming      the creosote       the tourniquets of willows and high desert owls       the feathered necklace      the giving of salts     my gorgeous home of cups       my heart this evening a store of ranches       of signs      of brown syrup and lust       a tarry bit of hot sidewalk      cornflowers in the cracks

The lines in my eyes mean fortune          the dusk leads to a pink sky in the morning             to the smell of creosote after cool rains grains of brittle needles       the worn stock of braille too faint to read         the pregnancy of boys           their caves of molting earth      the bright orange garnish of last spring’s salamander in the still bare woods       what is to come?       what tiny pause full of child hovers just there?

Not unlike the west but acting west       the moon and the matte-white rocks call to us like mallow beds or the inside of an ear      my idiot love of hats       a barrel of rinsed plums       pots of green mud between my toes       I need a meal only once every few days       the fields spread below in a buoyancy of grains       a hat for protection       a hat for collecting dues       a hat for holding water

Your tooth       anchored and stunning       shouldered in secret dreams of temples and fields       capes and antlers       you lead a herd of curly-haired boys       sails for shirts      cups for dust       a curious tea made from an ancient suit of love       in gentle mouths you fall into the plush      a morning call to prayer       my father in a pocket       blowing past my jaw

You give me a blue and white boat for a hotel and a rail line       I’m told it’s not a fair exchange       a depreciating asset for something more solid       but the boat is seaworthy and takes us from the washed-out harbor with its rising seas       to the high fjords and glacial bluffs         where I resist the urge to call out fortunes or finances             titles in ships of grief             every tree bent to signs       instead I pin my suck onto your gaze and choose these four fortunate legs              entwined and cradled in a green purse arenas so soft       so liquid and sweet       a feather necklace of buds

A nymphy dance on keyboards          a night in the dirt         a fairy boy in my bed         your feet on the pink waters         turning to moss          the clear dark winters by fires       a flight over the bridge for nail polish       a branch from last year’s storm       these are my breaking hours       my heart against yours       traveling by sea       you are wrapped in a blue scarf       I think you were raised by a moose

Samuel Ace is a trans and genderqueer author of three collections of poetry: Normal Sex, Home in Three Days, Don’t Wash., and most recently Stealth, with poet Maureen Seaton. He is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, two-time finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Poetry, winner of the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund Award in Poetry, The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award in poetry. He was also a recent finalist for the National Poetry Series. His work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in or is forthcoming from Plume, Aufgabe, Atlas Review, Mandorla, Volt, Ploughshares, Eoagh, Spiral Orb, Kenyon Review, Everyday Genius, Rhino, 3:am, Versal, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Eleven Eleven, Tupelo Quarterly, The Volta, Devouring the Green, Troubling the Line: Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and Best American Experimental Poetry 2016. He lives in Tucson, AZ where he serves on the board of POG, an inter-disciplinary reading series.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 12)


In these most anxious and somber political times, it is my honor to introduce the enormously relevant and genuinely fortifying creations we have gathered for this 12th issue of Posit.

When I introduced our last issue, the United States was in the midst of an “election cycle in which the complacency of most notions of “normalcy” [had] been shattered, giving rise to an appropriately pervasive anxiety about the depth and scope of the humanly possible.” Three months and a globe-rattling election later, that anxiety has proven to be nothing if not accurate. Many in the arts find ourselves questioning the relevance of our projects, and even our ultimate endeavors. In this moment when the (non-fake) news carries a toxicity which strikes fear into the hearts of so many, I believe the poetry and prose in this issue makes a solid case for the ability and even duty of writers everywhere to deliver the kind of news William Carlos Williams reminded us we “die miserably every day / for lack of.”

So I hope you will wrest your gaze from the ominous spectacle of our political moment to bolster your courage with the extraordinary literature in this issue — assured that, to quote from Andrew Cantrell’s The Gate is Open: “There is no speaking here not undertaken in defiance.”

To wit:

Sam Ace’s urgently tender love song to both the “fairy body in my bed” and our planet itself, from “north of the mountains” to “the fields spread below in a buoyancy of grains,” from “a tarry bit of hot sidewalk” to “the still bare woods” cradling “our nights scavenged in a sleep of mortars” while “others make slings for the dense matter of broken things;”

Andrew Cantrell’s deceptively simple declarations, the matter-of-fact intonations of which belie the profundity of their personal and political investigations into “how practice makes of movement another moment” able to “bear witness to an era of despair” and “construct the artwork as a figure of collective liberation;”

the delicate, suggestive mystery of Laton Carter’s prose poems, which, like the grace of the ballerina in his first piece, “[i]gnoring the straight lines of the boat and the physics of its ways . . . serves to uncontain what . . . is contained;”

Carol Ciavonne’s gorgeous riffs on Simone Weil’s notebooks, evoking Weil’s phenomenological approach to epistemology by unpacking how the physicality of writing echoes and illuminates our very existence, this “tempest of atoms/this wat’ry world,” the universal “shift into being from being other;”

Benjamin Hollander’s tragically posthumous parable about the slippery nature of art, memory, and communication — its bricolage of memoir, art criticism and sociological critique evoking echoes of Pynchon and Murakami, even as it revels in the inimitability of its own voice;

the elegant, elemental, and wry verse of Rich Ives, “dutiful and divided in the single intention of arriving” at such surprising and deeply satisfying revelations as “[t]he opposite of now is not always then” and “time is transparent. You cannot live there, but you can visit/constantly;”

the mystery and paradox of Philip Kobylarz’ densely potent declaratives, “an alternative the same as its opposite” in which “[g]ranite by another name is akin to granite” and “[t]he end is an end and the beginning is a false start towards making ends meet;”

Lori Anderson Moseman’s delicate, genre-defying response to disruption and mortality on the global as well as personal level, stitched together by the rich implications of darning (the collection’s title trope), with its suggestion of mending even while ruing the “nesting artifacts jettisoned” to spawn this “story [which] flaunts its missing gown;”

Trace Peterson’s inspiring monologue, manifesto, and cri de cœur, issuing from a narrative ‘I’ simmering with exultation, defiance, and irony, a self “invisible but . . . unavoidable,” “an ampersand and . . . a pronoun,” a presence which “belong[s] here, where I cannot not appear” in the course of an arrival which “is final as in completely incomplete;”

Jerome Sala’s self-sufficient, comically profound ode to ‘content’ in all of its elusive potency, “a textual form of meat product . . . nothing in itself / but the something out of which all is made;”

Dale Smith’s lyrical prose/verse memoir with its arrestingly beautiful meditations on “past selves pillowed by labor or expansive regimens of age” via stories which do “not focus — they spill” along “a pretended wilderness interiorized like dream energy” even while “hold[ing] in mind the certainty of erasure;”

Leanne Staples’ resonant verbal collage, “a bed of borrowed ease” in which “metaphor leaks of thingness . . . easing into selfness” “not waiting. / Or weighting. Without noun or renown;”

Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino’s enigmatic and tantalizing excerpt from his flash fiction novel, Suicide by Language, enacting its own prescription that “[t]o be poetic is everything;”

and Laurie Stone’s masterful flash fictions, buzzing with the energy of unpredictable yet penetrating juxtapositions fueled by the lived intensity of imagined experience.

Thank you, as ever, for reading.

Susan Lewis


Welcome to the art of Posit 12!

Beth Dary’s sculpture reflect an intense and thoughtful response to the natural world and our relationship with it. Using a wide variety of materials, she draws attention to the delicacy and strength of barnacles and bubbles. Her installations of masses of small objects create artificial universes that mimic nature, asking us to consider life’s interconnectivity.

In the accomplished compositions of Steven De Frank, we see an exuberant embrace of life’s absurd, gut-wrenching, nutty beauty. His work seems to flow from id to paper or wood. The result are artworks that are funny and intense, accessible and mysterious. This is work that demands a second look.

Mie Kim’s paintings offer both a humorous commentary on Asian pop culture and a serious examination of painterly issues. She marries the two trains of thought effortlessly, producing riotous and sensually beautiful paintings that dance the line between abstraction and figuration. Her color palette is downright delicious.

Sandy Litchfield’s paintings play with the balance between urban and green space. She paints portraits of cities, with their tangle of buildings, roads, color and energy. At the same time she often portrays the relationship of urban growth to nature. The intertwining of natural and man-made forms creates an interesting conversation about space and place.

And Amy Pleasant’s spare and elegant work reflects her interest in the body and how it can be broken down into simplified shapes without losing its humanity. Her use of repetitive gesture and reduced palette focuses our attention exclusively on form. There is a deceptive simplicity to her work; deeper consideration reveals the subtlety of its form and content.

I hope you enjoy!
Melissa Stern