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When we fight time, we lose

Danika Stegeman LeMay & Nate Logan

I’ve got it now: a thorn in my side the size of a Cadillac.

You can’t keep your vigil / you can’t watch forever.

There is no color for blood. (You see, the island will be full of strange foreboding.)

The eye we call cloud will dreamrain the sky

trapped between the motives of self and world, learning the repercussions of sleep and inattention.

A pure and most clear mirror…it follows that the angel does not understand by reasoning

an earthworm playing a zither

at the bottom of everything there is the hallelujah

Then I get bored and have to admit I want to go

I return to Colonial Williamsburg™ and its euphemistic quasi-theme-park portrayal of America’s corrupt origins

it is the ball a-rolling on / for Tippecanoe and Tyler too

and perhaps one day, this morning will not be ashes in your mouth.

So far, we have seen the impenetrable fabric of night, really up close, and a neighbor’s garage, really up close.

It’s necessary to go to as many extremes as possible.

It is a long time ago since I was six.

Our faces have filled with smoke.

And it was all goose, let me tell you,

and I worry that spontaneity acts for its own reasons, not mine

the way one does in the morgue

(the letter reads: “Dear friends, I bring you so”)

I knew the queen died before the BBC did because the irish blood inside me vibrated like an amber alert

–that is how / the whole field is / seen to bend–

Perhaps she is sitting somewhere, by the open window, her hands folded in her lap, gazing down over the olives–

the trees are incendiary.

(Someone has probably used that trick before.)

Never confuse the worthiness of your calling with who you are.

Pragmatists say truth is what has cash value.

May matter be transformed by belief here.

The movie would get a different rating, but this is a review of the poster.

You cross the threshold / into the welcoming forest

a hundred thousand hopes subject to fail.

I hope you can see as much.

One can easily imagine it, Pina with her partner and collaborator, Rolf, who designed her sets and costumes, in Munich or in Darmstadt, looking out at all the dirt.

I know now that I am no longer waiting, and that the previous part of my life in which I thought I was waiting and therefore only half-alive was not waiting, although it was tinged with expectancy, but living under and into this reply

and I believe in the abdomen powers, grazing cattle meeting in clearings, as if to say I found something whole and feathered, with only the head missing.

Instead of projecting inward until all I could see was a tunnel focused to a blinding circular spotlight on what I already knew, I had to project outward until I found some sort of illumination that included the outside and the inside. 

Let’s have some coffee. You’re beginning to look maudlin.

The undatable bifurcation of destruction, sharp as a claw, unpredictable, throbbing, magnificent.

Slowly, Spanish is extinguished from their feelings

It gets worse you’ll be glad to hear, steadily worse.

Nevertheless his shell collection, with every vacation, grew

an ambiguous productivity miracle.

Women knock at your door in vain, you won’t open.

I too am held together by shreds.

Can I guess what I’m thinking?

..–we took it /as sign, as promise //still for nothing wavered, /nothing begged or was unreal, the thing /happening, filling our eyesight

bookmarking “eclipse plumage” for the poets.

They found that they had one tongue.

I see tall grass. I see a lake. I see a dock.

You take your good language across town.

So if you don’t receive any poems from me for a long time, please understand.


Nate and Danika wrote this cento through the mail for nearly a year. It contains 52 lines, including the title, because the USPS will be 52 years old this summer. Danika chose a line, wrote it down, and mailed it to Nate. Nate chose a line, wrote it down, and mailed it to Danika. Over and over again. The danger is, sometimes the mail gets lost, my friends. But danger is the force of life.



1. (TITLE) Rinpoche, Tenzin Wangyal. The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1998. p. 134.

2. Alkaline Trio. “97.” Alkaline Trio. Asian Man Records, 2000.

3. Hall, Joe. “Talk Piece: David.” Someone’s Utopia. Black Ocean, 2018. p. 37.

4. Boully, Jenny. “Six Black and White Movies, in which I Do Not Find You.” Tarpaulin Sky. V2n2/V2n3, Spr./Sum. 2004.

5. Meadows, Carrie. “Words You’ll Need.” Busted Compass. Ethel Zine & Micro Press, 2021. p. 5.

6. Kaplan, Genevieve. “How We Read Caroline Bergvall’s ‘Via’ and Why We Should Care.” Jacket. 38, 2009. Accessed 8 May 2022.

7. Weinberger, Eliot. Angels & Saints. NY: New Directions Press, 2020. p. 18 (He’s quoting Thomas Aquinas here.)

8. Ives, Lucy. “New Impressions of the Human.” Art in America. Accessed. 22 May 2022.

9. Lispector, Clarice. Agua Viva. NY: New Directions Books, 2012. p. 29.

10. Garnett, Callie. “Woody Guthrie.” On Knowingness. The Song Cave, 2017. p. 5.

11. Workman, Elisabeth. “No Souvenir.” The Box Is the Womb Or. Dusie Kollektiv, 2019. Pages unnumbered.

12. They Might Be Giants. “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” Future Soundtrack for America. Barsuk Records, 2004.

13. Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room. Dell, 1966. p. 76.

14. Browning, Sommer. “Denver Is Home to the World’s First Quizno’s.” Good Actors. Birds LLC, 2021.

15. Acker, Kathy. “In front of the Mudd Club, 77 White St.” New York City in 1979. Penguin Books, 2018. p. 16.

16. MacLane, Mary. I Await the Devil’s Coming. Melville House, 2013. p. 77.

17. Ashbery, John. “Our Youth.” The Tennis Court Oath. Wesleyan University Press, 1962. p. 42.

18. Ashebery, John. “Cousin Sarah’s Knitting.” Notes from the Air. Ecco, 2007. p. 205.

19. Berssenbrugge, Mei-mei. “A Placebo.” Hello, the Roses. New Directions, 2013. p. 13.

20. Simic, Charles. “Night Thoughts” No Land in Sight. Knopf, 2022. p. 69.

21. Socarides, Alexandra. Dickinson Unbound: Paper, Process Poetics. Oxford, 2012. p. 25.

22. @empty_soda_cant. “I knew the queen died before the BBC did because the irish blood inside me vibrated like an amber alert.” Twitter. 8 September 2022, 1:42 PM

23. Griffin, Brandan. “Interferometer.” Impastoral. Omnidawn, 2022. p. 29.

24. Beckett, Samuel. “Play.” The Collected Shorter Plays. Grove Press, 1984. p. 144-159.

25. Erdrich, Louise. The Sentence. Harper, 2021. p. 339.

26. Cooperman, Elizabeth. Woman Pissing. University of Nebraska Press, 2022. p. 1.

27. Anonymous. The Cloud of Unknowing. Shambhala, 2009. p. 9.

28. Cooperman, Elizabeth. Woman Pissing. University of Nebraska Press, 2022. p. 103.

29. Patterson, G.E. “Rain.” To and From. Ahsahta Press, 2008. p. 6.

30. Myers, Gina. “Friday Feature: Fright Night Promotional Poster (1985).” Cul-de-Sac of Blood. 4 Nov. 2022.

31. Sridhar, Achana. “Upon the Ice Floes.” G U E S T #24 (Winter 2022; guest editor Sara Lefsyk). p. ???

32. mclennan, rob. “The President’s House Is Empty.” the book of smaller. U of Calgary Press, 2022. p. 21.

33. Mayer, Bernadette. Midwinter Day. New Directions, 1982. p. 6.

34. Mannheimer, Rachel. “New York.” Earth Room. Changes, 2022. p. 25.

35. Ashbery, John. “The System.” Three Poems. Viking Press, 1972. p. 99.

36. Lyalin, Natalie. “Many Teens Hide Deepest Secrets in Plain Sight.” Pink & Hot Pink Habitat. Coconut Books, 2009. p. 19.

37. Wuehle, Candice. Monarch. Soft Skull, 2022. p. 114.

38. McCarthy, Cormac. The Passenger. Knopf, 2022. p. 140.

39. Malbou, Catherine. Ontology of the Accident: An Essay on Destructive Plasticity. Translated by Carolyn Shread. Polity, 2012. p. 54.

40. Jaramillo, Laura. “Lacrimosa.” Making Water. Futurepoem, 2022. p. 55.

41. Bechdel, Alison (editor). Love Letters: Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Vintage Classics, 2021. p. 55. (this line is Virginia’s).

42. Stonecipher, Donna. “Inlay 7 (Franz Kafka).” The Cosmopolitan. Coffee House Press, 2008. p. 35.

43. Ives, Lucy. Life Is Everywhere. Graywolf, 2022. pt. C, p. 51.

44. Drummond de Andrade, Carlos. “Your Shoulders Hold Up the World.” Traveling in the Family: Selected Poems. Translated by Mark Strand. Random House, 1986. p. 29.

45. Fagen, Jared Daniel. “The Animal of Existence.” The Animal of Existence. Black Square Editions, 2022. p. 52.

46. Collins, Arda. “The News.” It Is Daylight. Yale University Press, 2009. p. 1.

47. Oppen, George. “Guest Room.” Selected Poems. Ed. by Robert Creeley. New Directions, 2003. p. 45.

48. @ae_stallings. “Bookmarking ‘eclipse plumage’ for the poets.” Twitter 19 March 2023 5:05 AM

49. Spicer, Jack. from a letter to James Alexander in 1958 or 1959. My Vocabulary Did This to Me. edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian. Wesleyan University Press, 2008. p. 207.

50. Craig, Michael Earl. “Field Trip.” Iggy Horse. Wave Books, 2023. p. 35.

51. Stoner, Sara Jane. “Where Do We Take Our Beauty When We Part.” Experience in the Medium of Destruction. Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2015. p. 33.

52. Niedecker, Lorine. “Three Letters from Norine Niedecker to Cid Corman.” Lorine Niedecker’s Poem and Journal along with Other Sources, Documents, and Readings. Wave Books, 2013. p. 51.

Danika Stegeman LeMay’s’s debut collection of poems, Pilot (2020), was published by Spork Press. Her second book, Ablation is forthcoming from 11:11 Press in November 2023. Her website is

Nate Logan is the author of Wrong Horse (Moria Books, fall of 2023) and Inside the Golden Days of Missing You (Magic Helicopter Press, 2019). He lives in Indiana.

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