Tyler Flynn Dorholt


The small window rattles
I feel everything tied to my arms
the arch that collects shadows
even in the night
I put on a charge of hope
the house you turn the edges of
in your remains
when you are finished
gesturing toward demise
the letters we leave
the cornfield season
for the middle linger
to step it up belong to the others
you share with ache
and rural into the world
a fasted hear I don’t ride
the world I won’t leave
the window I cannot see
flattened water arriving
giving news to you and your box
passing to a loud nobody
how scattered the changing
plants that reason everything
antique kept us young here
where I’m taking the screen off
and how open the heart
I first attached to the river.


Too often the bodies
like coins
roll down Jane street
as if to slot something sane
aside the main lanes.
Some gutter some swerve.
I think of Philip’s veins
as he lined them up, widening
the blood to rise above character.
It is always the fire escape
which lets me rely on others
to relieve my ruins, all the cigarettes
flecked from the second floor,
the ashes stored below soles,
the armors of flame.
Who knows what side
of myself is shelved in the small elm
outside the tiny apartment
or how many times I said the name
of a body before the street climaxed
between bricks who wants to
know I don’t know. To say a street
runs anywhere is to forget
it must connect and adjust
our movements, not take off
from them or maybe
a person is not a number
but I ran all seven miles
starting from Jane, ending at Wall St.
before the cab took me down.
This is to second
the notion we work in many ways.
Philip’s eyes open right before
he dies and he finds a building
he’s never seen
growing behind a building
he’s never been in
and it flows yellow
he wants a lemon
and the building he’s in will be
rebuilt using the weight
of his death. A woman
walks by and touches
the window near
the croissant.
A singer downs a burger
where Dylan sang
about Emmett Till.
These are just references,
though they hang alive
in the street
running itself down.
I was silent that entire
Thanksgiving weekend
writing about becoming
someone else. I walked back
and forth on the street
it was so small
of the street to think big things of me
in the reflections of doors
in the wind-trapped porn of wine labels
and laundry groped by others
for the bag. When I look at
what I’ve seen
the scene is always
there was a corner
and the motorcycle
hit her perfectly
so that her knees buckled, clipped,
and she bounced off the sign
that said yield.
I touched the gravel
the next day, my finger
on maroon, then said
my first words in days:
I can’t believe
we’ve never talked
about life. The street
returns to me as if the arm
of what I am, undone,
and I hold it up to hail a hello
to the space Philip leaned
against himself
that time
that one time
I saw his body
and all the characters
it has been taking up
the whole of Jane
and running
it off
the Hudson.

Tyler Flynn Dorholt is a writer, visual artist, and teacher. His most recent books are Side Cars & Road Sides (Greying Ghost) and American Flowers (Dock Street Press). He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Environmental Science & Forestry in Syracuse, NY, where he lives with his wife and son. He is co-founder and editor of the journal and press, Tammy, which is entering its tenth year of publishing.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 20)

Welcome to the 20th issue of Posit! We’re truly delighted (if a bit amazed) to find ourselves here. And we’re deeply grateful to all of you (worldwide!) who read and view this site — and, especially, to our ever-growing family of contributors, for entrusting their remarkable work to us.

And speaking of remarkable work, the poetry and prose gathered here is, as always, as various as it is impossible to categorize. Nonetheless, as befits the somber chill of mid-winter, much, if not most, of this work grapples with the most ancient of literary preoccupations: mortality. Which is to say, “this absenting / presence, this existence” (Michael Tod Edgerton, Land’s End) — its tragedy, its absurdity, its beauty, and its generative relationship with life and art. The range of approaches in evidence underscores the inexhaustible depth of this subject, as a look at the work of Edgerton, Tyler Flynn Dorholt, Robert Hamilton, Margaret Hanshaw, Simone Muench & Jackie K. White, Rick Snyder, and Anne Riesenberg confirms.

Given this subject matter, it’s not surprising that an elegiac tone weaves through this issue — made emphatic by moments of actual elegy, for Philip Seymour Hoffman (Dorholt), Anthony Bourdain (in the visual art of Miriam Hitchcock), Catullus’ famous sparrow (Snyder) — even Damien Hirst’s decaying shark (Edgerton).

Yet in many of these works, the link between loss and creation gives rise to an understated but persistent optimism — a “calm exhilaration” (Edgerton) which leads us to “savor . . . the Value of imperfect choices” and appreciate the “grace of saying Yes.” (Riesenberg). This is true even — or perhaps, especially — in certain works notable for their silence. Miraculously, it is sometimes in the spaces between what is said (as well as the spare beauty of their language), that the most potent generative potential is located. We’re thinking here, especially, of the poems of Julie Phillips Brown and Alexandra Mattraw, but also, cousin to those ellipses, the ones made visual and tactile by Sonja Johanson’s botanical erasures, the lacunae of which give rise to new structures, even as they mark the destruction they highlight. Plus, cousin to both, Kelly Nelson’s novel translations, which combine departure and tribute to give rise to the shockingly, refreshingly new.

This is not to say that all here is gentle or calm, as a glance at the poems of Robert Hamilton, Muench & White, or Rick Snyder will confirm. Nor that only loss is generative, as Kathleen Hellen’s high octane recombination of language, “sprouting wordsinsideofworlds,” reveals.

But all of the work here offers something new, in the best sense of that over- and abused word. And we are the better for receiving it.

In this excerpt from The Adjacent Possible, Julie Phillips Brown’s “one” evokes the music of solitude. Although the “one” of the poem is so “unaccountable . . . countless, fathomless, and alone” that “words form as burrs and pits,” the haunting beauty of Brown’s own prosody “flowers among the watery veils” to proffer a “cloudself” so transcendent it “wakes as air.“

Tyler Flynn Dorholt’s elegiac litanies of urban living “put on a charge of hope” even as they “gestur[e] toward demise” in their deftly inclusive contemplation of the entanglement of self and other, survival and suffering. Focusing on Jane Street in New York City to “talk. . . about life,” Stoop connects the death of an anonymous pedestrian with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose while “widening / the blood to rise above character,” as well as a singer downing a burger “where Dylan sang / about Emmett Till,” insuring that “when [we] look / at what [we’ve] seen / the scene is [not] . . . overlooked.”

Like Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn, Michael Tod Edgerton’s It Closing In It Whispers considers the inextricable bond between death and beauty, provoked, here, not by an urn, but by the “tender,” “erotic,” and “brutal” portraits of Francis Bacon, as well as Damien Hirst’s famous shark “scraping against the glazed skin of the seen” in The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. Both poems featured here embody what they respond to: art’s capacity “to call out to call into / being,” compelling us to marvel at how “surprisingly / beautiful [it is] . . . / to be stricken to be / taken,” despite the disturbingly fleeting nature of “anything kin, / in the 21st century, / to transcendance.”

In Senso Unico, Predator & Prey, and Labor Theory of Value, Robert Hamilton sings in a number of forms and tones unified by a voice as erudite as it is forceful in its exploration of the tragic irony of the human condition. These poems expose a species prone to grandiosity, even as it — as we — are trapped by the ‘unique meaning’ of the one-way, no-exit (“senso unico”) trajectory that characterizes a mortality in which “the Ding an Sich cannot be had” and we are not “roaming the wild but caught in a little snow globe with our own figurines hunting a brown little smudge of a beast.”

The stark beauty of Margaret Hanshaw’s imagery confronts us with an existential solitude from which “there are no distinct patterns. / No lessons to be drawn.” What’s more, this “thrashing dystopia” is universal rather than personal, since “strangers occupy the same deep space.” Nonetheless, these poems remind us, there is comfort in the real: “slow light. / A purple ease,” one’s hands like “little balconies” in “the autumn sun.” But most importantly, there is the deep resource of the self, one’s “only house:” “a single mountain” capable of “diving / miles within itself.”

In Kathleen Hellen’s poems, what we do to survive “the tillandtamp of every penny nickeled, every dime a habit” may be the addiction of the lotuseaters, “a made-for-hope numbness as the tactic you have mastered as the happy ending.” Unless, they suggest, “the only way out” is “to be a trickster . . . a fairy in the dome sponging off the glut surviving in the storm and drought.” Either way, the compressed intensity of Hellen’s neologisms are as provocative as they are pleasurable to read.

Sonja Johanson’s botanical erasures inventively combine text with both native and invasive plant parts to spark a dialogue on a number of simultaneous levels. In Divinity, for instance, she uses leaves, Pincushion moss, and a passage from Taltos by Anne Rice to comment upon “this brimming world” of both the poem and this planet in danger of being erased by our own species’ invasive tendencies.

The chiseled mystery of Alexandra Mattraw’s poetry resonates “like a ghost echoing.” Reading these poems confers a pleasure akin to “taking some of the sea into your mouth.” In one of the two poems entitled /Vigil/, a decontextualized “I” “fells speech to splinters.” In the other, it “split[s] infinitives to / engolden dirt and breath” to achieve that great goal of the best art: “holding in / the swarm of things.”

Simone Muench and Jackie K. White mine the sonnet’s dialogic and philosophical affinity to offer marvels of precise, profound, and synthesized resolution. These poems consider, variously, the insecurity of female identity via “the dress [as] a liar laced with history’s lies,” “the desert [as] an armory of black tires . . . murder ballads, and . . . silence strung along barbwire,” and the “garden’s rot, obit, subplot.” All serve as metaphors for the darkness we must lead ourselves out of, if we are to reach “salve or salvage . . . Not quite song / or sugar water, but a wrought ripe, sunlit.”

Kelly Nelson’s erasure-palimpsest-translations reveal the complex delights of the bonds she forges — and detects — between languages. Their insightful and sometimes humorous effects derive at least in part from the juxtaposition of multiple poetic impulses, starting with classic American texts, and ending with Nelson’s doubly-translated erasures. The results are entirely fresh and undeniably her own. In The Day Lady Died, “I spun no feathers around your neck” derives from the verb hilar (to spin). In The Road Not Taken, “I pray to see the possum before it sees me” is the road wished not taken — glad as we are that the twisty paths of these poems were.

Anne Riesenberg’s extraordinary tales “skew ordinary Neediness into a Darker Story” via prose as clear-eyed and unflinching as it is dreamlike, and sometimes surrealistic. Always, though, “Resolution tremble[s] Above . . . its own finely Wrought cloud.” Informed by wisdom, complexity, and compassion, Riesenberg’s resolutions bring us to “savor . . . the Value of imperfect Choices” and “the grace of saying Yes within the context of Love.”

In O Miselle Passer! and Red Tide, Rick Snyder reframes the preoccupations of “high” Western poetic and philosophical thought within the most banal public spaces of contemporary life: waiting rooms. Here, Catullus’ famous sparrow is trapped in an airport “aisle / of plastic blue seats,” while the “bounded lack of boundaries” of extra-linear space is suggested by a fish tank flanked by a plastic plant. These poems expose the inherent comedy of the mundane, even as they prevent us from assuming we can deduce substance from style; their incongruous waiting room fauna raise questions as eternal as any more obviously “poetic” predecessor.

Thank you, as ever, for reading!

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann


The intricate constructions of Eozen Agopian incorporate many materials and techniques. Her complex pieces are like small universes, each containing its own private visual logic. Using techniques drawn from sewing and weaving, she uses threads and fabric to push and pull her works into three dimensions from their wall-based origins. Manipulating loose threads over painted and drawn color, she is able to create compositions that seem to vibrate as the color and form are in constant movement. They are intense and beautiful, the eye moving constantly over these landscapes of color and texture.

Judith Henry has created a body of work that will resonate with all those who commute on public transportation. The L Train, a heavily used subway line that runs through Manhattan and into Brooklyn, is a perfect device to use to paint an iconic portrait of urban life. Everyone takes the L train! Using an intimate format (5 x 5 inches) Henry has portrayed her fellow commuters with humor and empathy. Her loose and fluid painting style, superimposed over black and white photographs of the subway, conveys the beat of urban life.

We are presenting a snippet from extraordinary 12-year project, entitled My Brother’s War by Jessica Hines. Hines has sought understanding and closure on her brother’s experience as a soldier in Vietnam. Through photographs and text, both his and hers, she eloquently paints a portrait of both her beloved brother and his experience as a soldier and her family’s loss. It is work that is deeply personal and yet touches us all with its willingness to express love and grief.

Miriam Hitchcock makes mysterious paintings that hint at narrative, but leave the story up to the viewer. Her works on shaped panels capture brief moments of everyday life – a window, a profile, the gesture of a dog walking. Like visual poems, they reveal bits and pieces of color, form and idea which are effortlessly woven into lyrical compositions. We see the connections between her thoughts and observations of the physical world synthesized into images that reflect her contemplative worldview. In these paintings, I perceive the landscape and sunlight of the California coastline, where Hitchcock lives. Clear warm color, with a hint of clouds and sun, infuse her work.

The ceramic and mixed media work of Beth Lo conveys her keen understanding of both her family’s cultural heritage and her experience growing up as a minority in the US. Her wonderful images of children and childhood emerged in her work after the birth of her son and reach back into her own childhood as a potent source of psychological material. The gentle narratives of her finely detailed painting beautifully marry the traditions of ceramic pottery and sculpture with the modernity of her storytelling.

The carved wooden sculptures made by Hirosake Yabe are simultaneously funny, tender and bold. He takes the simplest of forms and gestures and imbues them all with a deep sense of life and humanity. His animals are particularly “human,” suggesting a universal connection between all living beings. His carving is masterful and bold, the marks of the object-making adding to the animation of his figures.


Melissa Stern

Thomas Cook and Tyler Flynn Dorholt

from Decade Mode

The forms of advance are widening and it is lunch, the crux of any medium, at least for the time being, which is the middle of the day.

I stave off hunger by existing right here in the logs. Night brings other cruxes. Night cancels the past. Night brings the land to the reaching meadow and lies down in the flowers until meeting expectations.

Where is the stem? When it happens, and occasionally when it does not, I fill a salt dish with octopus meat and wait for all the mothers to peter out. This is how to create a little more ocean for those of us who cannot touch it freely within an hour, or at least I feel this feeling, and even to touch would not mean the salt is the right proportion.

They are so busy heaving, I don’t know what to make of them.

One of them over the sofa, the other in the traces of my old Honda. They are in cars and moving objects with feet. Without any sense of time, I watch them until the steam cooks my arm to the leather. A 90-second pouch of brown rice. I bought a set of cards made nearby by a family who has been making cards for hundreds of years, I think, or else another family owns the company now, or it is always a family that owns everything, really. I taught myself three solo games, gave up, and hope to introduce my closer friend to the long game that involves more thinking than most.

So many words are missing. They blip on catching up. Too long without a custard cup, I gripped my earlobe and listened for the train. I stripped my beer globe and glistened in the rain. I ran to the jacket and found a man panning my pockets for stamps. Please forgive my breath. I came up for air and made the conscious sentence my own.

Two of us, that’s all.

All the world is a bitten clover in the mouth of a good creature, fuel for the rudimentary belly. Dust of rings and static electricity continue to make the gas station an interesting place for self-reflection and nearer to oil than we can be at rest. I can think about closing my eyes on the topic of all the sweet fine crude while dreaming of what is stored in the thick hollow earth.


No matter what, what is always the thing mattering, and this is not news nor is news not us. We print and fax, click and send, the mediums changing and not changing, the signatures blurring, each generation diminishing, on the whole, with respect to the last. Double negatives and agendas fixed by small outrages not originally in the speak. One could float the speaks in a dish of cold plums and numb your dangling ninny, of course, if it got to one.

May I give you more information regarding our performance-based pop culture generation?

First, I complete the majority of my incongruences and emotional derailments by recommending you listen to the mix I made, a culmination of many songs introduced to me by a man on the radio, none of which I’ve listened very hard to, but all of which are supposed to be both generational and risky and returning to some fumbled nostalgia of mine that I dare not repeat if I want to be accepted to friendship groups founded on art school politics.

I use tempera paint.

Secondly, a phone call might suffice but I can tell you now that we will be sending you updates and comments on a daily basis regarding how you look between genres and what fashion grows around but never within you. I keep leaving feelings in the clime, asking for an ice, and all the while my teeth are in need of a scrub. I remember when you chose khakis and a pink shirt. I remember passionfruit.

Now, what about the contemporary city sounds you drive around when you try and publish a sonnet? They are crispy noodles.

We steam because it forces the other minutes to recall how when we don’t we are just simple flotillas. These were just shelters on the long path. Now they are stopping points for the historical conundrum which blooms from the restless orchard ahead.


I am made to mention myself by avoiding what I have become, like a light shadow on a dark shadow on the screen of a tube television stacked on a ping pong table. I cannot have blinking in the top bar.

One shouldn’t just come into the living arrangement and barrage someone that lives there with precise forehand, not in the first instance or moment of passing through, anyway.

They’re going to pay you: that is the newsflash. I am trying to make sense of the things that have happened, is really the whole reason I am saying anything at this point. I keep breaking perfectly with commas into slight unknowns. In other words, I am trying to point to instances where I learned of circumference and understood abundance in the context of where I was sitting and standing and what I was wearing, but also in the context of what other people were doing, and then more generally in the context of everything that was happening.

Trampolines and pinball and stickball and intravenous mileage. I am not a sentimentalist, however, even if I do want to repeat 1993. The days pass like rats in a maze. The walls are scraping the months back. The passing feels like I am part of a great leg lurching forward from days from which I will say a great word and then topple over, contained by the way people have understood the things that I have said.

What were those, anyway? I could be in some ways solipsistic like everyone else. At night I think about how in sleeping I am not in control.

Most psychological disorders were discovered to explain everyone in the world as inert, bleak, troubled by the larger intentions. Most of the things that I can determine have gone something like that. I’m at a laptop on a table now. It’s the afternoon. In time, it will be less important to know the year.


How long will the voices which run on a fake line of care go on without being discovered?

They will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of a movie, the augmentation of style into substance, skateboards and pop chords. I hear them everywhere and I follow their echoes to a place where seriously distraught grumbles fold over into admonishment for any and everything. These people do not want you to receive full and intimately packaged days of importance. The concept of others is growing in the handhold, the manifold, the tablecloth.

I’m looking at the things stacked around me with greater concern, is the thing.

This brings me to biographies and then to straight facts. A biography is a list of items across days, mostly, but one that is given the shape of wind.

That is the space that we share, at least at certain points that we send between. You can make of any disappearance an intrusion or vast appearance of spirits. I will add a few words.


Yet in other ways the single day is not over. Until I came here it was. I’m always returning to the site of myself like the man in the box. Four years like a clawing infant.

Whisked through the park, pulled from the back of the bike, the tethered rollerblader is the sign of a time, shirt reaching down to knees and everything rumpled. Everything stumped. Diving into the spirit that inspired the memory is skipping a stone across the part of it that still defines you. We tried to skip the long thin one and it went over the water without ever dipping.

Knowing that today is difficult, but that’s why we are always trying to find a place in which we are comfortable, in which we can watch the old movie in the new way, I reflect.

The favored scene of snowballs or impostors.

The mind takes up quite a bit of space, which is why I am a terrible empiricist and a wonderful scientist. I can believe in more from gaps than from old facts. The word is the relief of itself, and putting them over on themselves is the deep fidget.

The other day, someone spoke to me about the good and the great of words and the mind and I opened my pockets. The tree outside is catching early flickers of sun. I was emailed about emailing someone, asked, over a connection, whether a connection could be made. I lost my own connections in this transfer.

This is the world in which I live, a world of olive toes and bath salts. When I wake up, I take fifty slowed breaths into meditation, but after three I am not counting at all. After three, I have become myself in the moment I am aware that I will never remember but for the way that it is repeated across a series of unknown days.

Thomas Cook and Tyler Flynn Dorholt live in Los Angeles, CA and Syracuse, NY. Their chapbook, Monster: A Glottochronology, was published by Alice Blue, and other collaborative writings have appeared in Spinning Jenny, Horse Less Review, and elsewhere. With JoAnna Novak, they edit Tammy. ​

Editor’s Notes (Posit 10)

Welcome to summer, and with it, to our 10th issue!

While not what is most often referred to as “summer reading,” this issue’s poetry and prose is energetic, surprising, pleasurable, and above all, various. From Martine Bellen’s Delphic utterances to James Capozzi’s lush expansiveness; from Joe Pan’s virtuosic fecundity to the compressed insightfulness of Alec Hershman, Call Freeman, and Becka Mara McKay, the work aggregated in these pages gives rise to its own poetic chiarascuro, an emphatic energy of contrasts fed as well by the moving micro-fiction of Anthony Schneider, Randee Silv’s suggestive “wordslabs,” an excerpt from a new collaboration by Thomas Cook and Tyler Flynn Dorholt, and the accomplished poetics of TJ Beitelman, Brett Salsbury, and Patrick Williams. So here’s to the delights of summer, and of Posit 10:

T.J. Beitelman’s probings of the intersection of truth and creation, vanity and desire, futility and hope, exploring “the real imagined” and the “imagined real” in which “none of this is holy. This is only art”;

Martine Bellen’s spare and exquisite excerpt from , inspired by Brazilian jujitsu, invoking “the efficacious arc of hatching” the insight that “delusions are inexhaustible”;

the expansive richness of James Capozzi’s verses, grappling with the psychic implications of “film that is a litany of artifacts ragged behind the rest of our evolution” as well as the elusive notion of “our majesty” which “blows the petals that form us” whether it resides in “maps of the coast the length of the coast” or “the life and the sub-life”;

Thomas Cook’s and Tyler Flynn Dorholt’s masterful collaborative meditation on time, identity, and language, which “keep[s] breaking perfectly with commas into slight unknowns” in order to remind us that “no matter what, what is always the thing mattering,” which “is not news nor is news not us”;

Cal Freeman’s sure-footed gems of energy, imagination, and insight, in which, as the author tells “The Innocent” in the epistle addressed to her, “grace is the shape of light that isn’t cast”;

the range yet compression of Alec Hershman’s lyrics, which convey meditative melancholy, wry humor, and philosophical rumination by tapping a well of surprise in which “the megaphone’s a dunce-cap; the helicopter lands with a limp”;

Becka Mara McKay’s lyrical yet gently wry investigations of relationship and faith, in which the “heart is/a dropped bottle,” “sorrow sags,” and “God leaves unlatched//the shore of sleep”;

Joe Pan’s virtuosically individuated monologues on one love which is wistfully “awash in what [she] cannot keep/or keep private,” while another struggles with her own “humble fidelity to [her] infidel’s lovely bits & bargaining chips” such as the beloved’s “ol’ stigmata’d-mouth-by-unforgiving-knuckles exploitation show”;

The wry melancholy and deadpan humor of Brett Salsbury’s pitch-perfect timing, reminding us “how your dreams rearrange the day” until “eventually gravity takes its whole toll”;

Anthony Schneider’s poignant fiction about personal constriction as coping mechanism and abuse, ringing with the potency of what is left unsaid;

Randee Silv’s ‘wordslabs’ constructed from resonant declaratives colliding productively like “circuits of cascading autumn clouds,” their “inward attentions inexhaustible”;

and Patrick Williams’ elegies to memory and mortality, in which “the lake is dead as a dream” although “we are too unfixed” and “someone is calling, but really/who picks up the phone anymore?”

Thank you for reading!

Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann


And welcome to the visual art of Posit 10!

Alex Bunn’s photographs bedazzle and confound the viewer. Through his meticulous studio arrangements he creates temporary universes that leave us wondering at exactly what we are looking at. They are both delicious and decidedly creepy at the same time.

In Cynthia Carlson’s recent body of paintings, “Beyond the Rectangle,” we see a group of rigorously constructed, geometric compositions. Each painting is made of up many smaller canvases, combining to make compositions that inhabit the walls with architectural presence. The paintings are deeply and lushly painted: Carlson uses color to both harmonize and connect the compositions. Like jazz, they are syncopated and alive with energy.

Mary DeVincentis presents us with a world where darkness, both physical and psychological, is ever present. Beneath the cheerful colors and vigorous brushwork we see hints of the troubled life inside.

Carl Heyward creates mixed media works that are elegant and lyrical. With graceful gesture he mixes found and fabricated imagery to suggest visual short stories. Each work provides us with a bit of the narrative, leaving it up to the viewer to complete the story.

And Matt Nolen’s ceramic sculptures are richly layered with color, texture and meaning. Like surrealist narratives, they lead us along a dreamlike path where all interpretations are the rights ones.


Melissa Stern