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Issue 4.2

Summer 2024

Danika Stegeman


From the summer of 2021 through the fall of 2022 I had a series of dreams in which a stranger named Matthew recurrently appeared. I began to write poems based on and inspired by the dreams, which turned into a project called The Book of Matthew. Eventually, I began writing epistles addressed to Matthew, which contain references to and sometimes lifted language from works and texts that influenced the composition of Matthew. Matthew is a messenger, an amalgamation, an angel of my own making. I wrote these poems alongside the poems in my book Ablation (11:11 Press, 2023), and I often call Matthew the shadow Ablation casts. Ablation addresses the sudden loss of my mom and my childhood trauma directly. Matthew addresses the aftermath: my patterns, my (un)consciousness, and my longing. Matthew looks to the future. Matthew conjures magic.

Dear Matthew,

Is this sonnet about my hair? When you said you had a sense that the material world might be temporary, a thing to worry our way through, it reminded me of videotape, how you could see the spool, how you had to rewind it. And also, Rapunzel, the lent magic of entrance and escape she could perform only for others. Because her magic was attached to her body.


Can one become purified from without rather than within? Sometimes Radiohead’s In Rainbows pulls me apart a little. I suppose that’s why it’s called In Rainbows. “Did your string come undone? One by one… Etcetera Etcetera.” You say we ask questions because we don’t know the answers. I listen to it in circles. 


And also, Rapunzel, her woven ladder, her severed hair. I get the feeling I’m missing something. I don’t know what to do with the way lines break. I’m trying to think of another word that sort of means 'ghosts without attachments,' that can parallel the alternate meanings of 'rhizome.' As in creeping rootstalks, as in a nonlinear network that connects any point to any other point.


If a rhizome is separated, each piece has the ability to give rise to a new plant/network. Shearing threads, I cast out a protective field. I guess, in reaching for you, it’s the field I’m concerned about. Because I constructed it from years.




Danika Stegeman’s second book, Ablation, was released by 11:11 Press November 1st, 2023. Her book Pilot (2020) was published by Spork Press. She’s a 2023 recipient of a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and recently spent a 2-week residency in Marathon, TX outside Big Bend National Park. Her website is

Danika's Book Recommendations

Tina Cane Body of Work (Veliz Books, 2019)

Matt Hart Familiar (Pickpocket Books, 2022)

Katy Mongeau Apostasy (Black Sun Lit, 2020)

Basie Allen Palm-Lined with Potience (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022)

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