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Issue 4.1 

Winter 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,

I’ll have you know you ruined my Thursday. Narcissistic paranoia is basically the same thing as ‘can you tell me why this keeps happening?’ I send you a meticulously constructed, upbeat letter, no creepiness whatsoever, and you don’t respond.  I write my double tt’s so they’re conjoined, inseparable. 


I’m sorry about the fireworks. And then it was morning and the sound wouldn’t stop. I remember an insect, maybe a locust. Do you remember or am I mistaken? Is that why you’re ambivalent? I don't know, ‘absent.’  


I admire your existential sentences. I wish I could resurrect a form that speaks to living in one’s time. Shatterstring, the way streets cut land on a map. Rust // sutures / used dust. A bike that's been left out in the rain. Show of hands. The chalk captures the (f)actual city and its movements. The membrane between dimensions is a curtain you part. I get a window, a looking, a view shivering. A hat is pulled from the lungs, or, smoke is pulled from lungs, as though a hat. 


That’s maybe not exactly how it went. 


There are some kinds of accumulation that imply syntactic equalness, the resonance between. There's an attempt at a way of making meaning that feels. I want to hold onto that. 


I may be misremembering.




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 Recommendations

The poems are influenced by several texts + other media, including: Angels & Saints by Eliot Weinberger, After Lorca by Jack Spicer, Love Letters: Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West edited by Alison Bechdel, Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke, The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous, In Rainbows by Radiohead, Inland Empire directed by David Lynch, The Wild Unknown Archetypes Deck by Kim Krans and many, many others.

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