Trace Peterson


My audience falls away, but my audience gets stronger. I am not writing for anyone, but I am writing for you. I am simultaneously a solid a liquid and a gas and hue. My friends fade but my friends are everywhere and intimately real. No one is listening but everyone is listening. I am invisible but I am unavoidable. I am visible but I am a ghostbuster. My world got smaller but my environment got enormous. Awnings try to shade me but I slip by without stepping under them. This sentence has been erased but the sentence bled through and stained the garment permanently first. I am squeezed into a tiny container and I am too vast for you to see all of at once. I am a pectoral muscle and I am a breast. I cancelled my subscriptions but Vogue is still arriving monthly. My acronyms have multiple referents while moonlighting as neologisms. I am an ampersand and I am a pronoun. Parkas protect me from rain but I am the rain pouring over everyone. I am more serious than SRS. Cupcakes can just go ahead and eat me. Milliseconds of lust for a warm embrace into view I freeze. Pantsuits flee from my pantsuit. I am a woman and an opening of discourse petulance amphora kraken. I dilate but I concentrate. I emerge victorious having lost things unnoticed and unappreciated from the swamp of eminent domain. I pay the fee that I am too poor to pay. I climb the side of an idea that has a crush on my molten heart. I am a body trapped in a book that is a book trapped in a body. My pulse races through a low blood pressure front to yeast rising. This sentence is final as in completely incomplete. I am a swollen clit at an oblique angle to reality sparks of code. I am nobody but I am a body built by ignorance and refusal. I am somebody but the cloud opens and rains on cue. I am a sheep in wolf’s clothing. My pen that cannot write keeps flowing ink from an empty impetus. My minimalist transverse intersection can beat up your honors student. I lick stamps without a tongue and send letters I will never mail. My enervated line dredges real opinion from the muck and slime. I exist and you may have imagined me. My feet sweat without a mermaid net. I am naturalistic and I am a stranger. My hips envelop this sentence as my torso twists toward your stormfront. I pulverize wholeness anticipating completeness. I am a she whose parking spot is continually nabbed by a faster more unlikely car. I am irresistable but too many calories to consume in one sitting. Burned by the scorched earth policy, I grow back flame-retardant. I gaze out the window I broke through a brick wall with words. I can see nothing that happens anywhere but everything I need to thrive. Forbidden apples fall upward in serpentine lines of animosity and charm. I will never stop stopping. I belong here, where I cannot not appear.

Trace Peterson is a trans woman poet critic. The author of Since I Moved In (Chax Press) and numerous chapbooks, she is Editor/Publisher of the Lammy-winning Press EOAGH Books, co-editor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books), and co-editor of Arrive on Wave: Collected Poems of Gil Ott which was just published this fall by Chax Press. She currently teaches a course in Transgender Poetry at Hunter College and a workshop titled “Learning From Trans Poets” at The Poetry Project, NYC.

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