After the Pause – Volume 4, Issue 1 – Spring 2017
Now you get to read about those people who made this thing by creating something. Betsy is a seventeen year old writer and artist from Vellore, south India. Ava C. Cipri is a poetry editor for The Deaf Poets Society: An Online Journal of Disability Literature & Art; her work is forthcoming in The Fem, Roanoke Review, and scissors & spackle. www.avaccipri.com Jane Craven lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked in corporate systems development and as the director of a contemporary art museum. Tiegan Dakin dreams of relaxing one day. Molly Damm lives in Bozeman, Montana, and teaches writing at Montana State University. Cody Deitz is a poet from California currently living in North Dakota. Ashley Fearfield is an artist and writer from New Jersey. Ben Fitton is a copywriter and has been agonising over this sentence for far too long. Peter Grandbois is the author of seven previous books and teaches at Denison University in Ohio. Jayne Guertin is a Rhode Island writer, photographer and lollygagger and member of the Slow Writer Movement who's work has been published or is forthcoming in literary journals like PANK, The Tishman Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Literary Mama, &c. Ed Hack is a poet exploring the unpredictable passions and precisions of the sonnet. Ron Hartley is a retired adman in New York City. James Hartman is currently living in Michigan with his wife. Heikki Huotari is one of three mathematicians who, each unknown to the others, invented/discovered the totally tubular convex set and explored its role in the study of metric geometry. Alexander James is an amateur writer, one currently stuck in London traffic. j4 is litrully four jâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s transcollabratizing errantly w/bits o'method j4work.wordpress.com Stephanie Kaylor is a writer, daydreamer, and forever student based in the Northeast, where she's likely hibernating under a majestic pile of blankets at this time. Patrick Kelling is a writer from Colorado. Olivia Mira-Hu is a published poet and Editor-In-Chief of Venus Magazine. Alice Pettway is living and writing in BogotĂĄ, Colombia. Holly Salvatore is a cosmic werewolf. Shloka Shankar is the founding editor of the literary & arts journal, Sonic Boom. Ryan Skaryd is probably staring at a blank screen, wondering what to write next. Sarah Stock is a student at Carroll University in Wisconsin. Kate Thomas
Oscar Towe is buried in the soil of rural England, his textures can be found at crowdecidedtotrywords.wordpress.com Brendan Walsh is on that grind.
How to Find Peace
Step 1: Post a vague status about “finding yourself.” Block everyone.
Step 2: Close your eyes and pierce a map with a dart. Tell your family that you’ve found a job/apartment/lover. Tell them this is not about the girl you took to the County Fair so long ago. Lie.
Step 3: Before you leave, tuck the watch your parents had given for your eighteenth birthday deep between the cushions of the loveseat. Know they’ll find it eventually.
Step 4: Pack a suitcase full of arbitrary items (a baseball glove, three photographs, a blanket, a ballpoint pen) and drive in any direction until you get tired. Keep going until the sky looks bigger.
Step 5: Find a house with a parking garage. Sign a lease for the summer months; pay the owner in full but tell him you’re leaving early.
Step 6: Work 3rd shift at a gas station, don’t meet your neighbors, don’t look anyone in the eye at the grocery store. Leave your phone in the middle of an open field so all 107 missed calls can stargaze until the next storm.
Step 7: Write a list of all your possessions and all of the people you love. Ask yourself if they will ever make you happy. Lie on the floor of your empty house and pretend to sleep through the daylight.
Step 8: Spend one month trying to breathe.
Step 9: On your last day off, imagine you’re going somewhere nice. As the garage door rises, compare the sunrise to your mother’s cheek and kiss it goodbye. Let the door close. Get in the car and roll down the windows.
Step 10: Turn the key.
Yes I'm the knife at the bottom of the sink. Below the soap suds and the cake scuds. Excalibur under a stack of dirty plates. I'm the leather strap frayed in the steam basket air of the longhouse. Maybe I was used to hold that mask to the wall. I'm the hand that softly clasps yours in the empty corridor. Insisting a little at the meat, at the junction of the thumb. I'm the banyan tree that you dream under. I'm the dream of an old soldier you never knew. I'm the heat and the light and the furnace of a cell dividing into a cell into a
cell into a flower heavy with all of these things, heavier than that which you carry across your arms. Draped, offered upwards. It's enough.
Coal Days We could never be considered a target for terrorists, so those of us who saw him crash into the Albion Street Wilkinson first thought Jude a meteorite. He emerged covered in plaster and concrete, shining like a promise. We swamped him at first, petting his down, standing on tiptoes to touch his face and Men's Health body, asking him questions about God and hell and lottery numbers. He never answered, never even spoke, so that it was the vicar who named him during one of his suddenly swollen congregations: called him Jude because hope in this town was only found in a bottle or bingo hall. TV crews rolled in, terraforming with loud demands for exotic caffeine and bakery, better light and higher connectivity, and for a time our town became pretty serious. But Jude, never elusive and always silent, was poor PR fare. All that potential, God's Google, and he wouldn't say a word. Within days – a time not short enough to snuff out crude cottage industry start-ups, not long enough to solidify first-to-market status - reports of other, more chatty cherubim fallout arrived, and we were abandoned, bringing into focus , again, for those old and cognisant enough, and somehow even for those not, the imprecise and stubborn wound of the pit closures. Weston Super Mare’s angel foretold doom; Inverness’ extolled God’s love; Corby’s joined a union, donned a 'Fuck the Eton mess' T-shirt and demanded an end to austerity. Or else. Ours, a dissociate, unmonetisable mute, was no competition. His silent proximity soon stole away the fear of God. He was pelted, spat at, swatted with issues of Shortlist, his wings filigreed with graffiti. An old woman on the no. 36 collecting for Christian Aid moaned about record-low takings and slumping church attendances. You could see her embarrassment in the loud sound of a lonely coin against plastic, in the disappointment that her god had revealed itself in a trick that amazed no one. 'Better He hadn't bothered,' she said to me as I donated my first ever quid to the Church. But if there's one thing in this town that people understand it's the permanence of their trajectories. They soon blamed themselves for the hope Jude gave them; turned their disappointment inwards in an attempt at control, added it to the pile for it to manifest in other small mean ways. And Jude, of
course, absorbed the impositions with a stoicism that disarmed, so that in the end they accepted him because the energy wasn't there not to. These days he's just a quirk of the town, like the undercurrent smell of the fat refinery and the ossature of the mine tower that slumps against the sky like a sentry who hasn't been told the war is over. I saw him the other day as I walked my new route home (my third temp job this year hot on the heels of my Physics MA). Followed him as he blinked in and out of streetlights, emerging and disappearing like an insouciant virtual particle; past Emerson Way's stubby terraces that prickle with satellite dishes as track marks down a junkie's arm; ending up at the beach that holds the town in an uneasy embrace, as if pinning it down for some future judgement. Seeing him added a sudden definition to things. Against the waning, tired light Jude's wings pulsed a low-level effulgence, their brightness countered by the grime and abuses of the town, but still there, as vestigial and stubborn as memory. It was a hopeful metaphor. He'll have heard me as I approached, shuffling the shingle in my clumsy size tens; will have seen me with his beautiful eyes the blue of supernovaed stars; will have heard me ask, again, about God and hell and lottery numbers. And even though he didn't make a noise or raise his arms or retreat or surge forward or respond in any way except through the small, sharp surrenders of his head as it snapped backwards and the stop-motion crumpling of his nose and cheekbones and the disappointingly human spray of blood and teeth, surely he would have felt, somewhere deep down, the effects of me repeatedly punching his fucking face in. Back home I had to ice-pack my badly swollen right hand and consider an excuse for work. I locked myself out and punched the glass to get in; I came off my bike at the bottom of Rowbotham Lane; You know The Miner's Arms on Deer St? Yeah, had a few too many there, stumbled out, nearly got hit by an Uber, fell back against the wall, put my hand up to steady myself and took half the skin with it. But then I realised I didn't care about what the lie was protecting so in the end just said I'd picked a fight with God. 'Did you win?' was all the boss said. 'Jury's still out,' I replied, looking up the cost of one-way rail fares to Inverness.
George I met an island tortoise with your name who knew Darwin. He died, like you did, but no one asked which battles he fought, how he evolved from egg to soldier. There was a beach he crossed as a hatchling, marching inland, narrowing the sand between duty and death.
1 Erasure from page 107 of The Five Talents of Woman: a Book for Girls and Women by Edward John Hardy
2 Erasure from page 283 of The Five Talents of Woman: a Book for Girls and Women by Edward John Hardy
The Way a Weed Endures If nothing of the past remains except what we remember, then why this shame that never stops filling holes why this bearded man walking about the house asking his own name why these leaf-brindled rivers clogged with yesterdayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pain why canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t I find a sharp enough blade with which to write each and every note of blame we owe to ourselves why does it take so long to become human, the way a weed endures the rain. So long? No. Not near enough. Not nearly long enough.
I am living elsewhere. Or traveling elsewhere. I met the neighbor, exchange canned goods. We wander. I find the skate park were the grizzly attacked those kids. We run along the ramps, pretend our balance is that precise. It makes sense that when I graze my knuckles across yours we hold hands. We say we need this.
In the morning you pick lug nuts from the pieces of your front window. I find your tire in a ditch while you make eggs and moose sausage. We go to the docks, the ones no one remembers. We let the waves numb our toes. You say that in a few months youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be able to walk across, carve caves into the pressure ridges. But now you offer to swim to an islet, let the glacier thaw redden our skin. On the stony shore we stack driftwood, build a cairn, watch the sun skim the peaks on the horizon, the closest thing to dusk weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have.
Sometimes you see yourself in the breakers, fingers waving with the current, breathing salt.
Sometimes you move as a crab, fantasize about swimming out, filling your gut with seaweed and motion.
When you swivel back, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re replaced by a seagull rinsing its beak, looking downward to the others, the ones you know open their eyes vertically, the ones that wait with hands held towards a sky theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never see.
Visitation With a honey dispositionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; you come enter like moths in bird cages, or shattered lightbulbs, once bright once buzzing beyond & attracting insects. Somewhere before stiff calligraphy or waiting for whispers in rainstorms. Perhaps. A word longing for flight. Light without black rings of cumulous dreams circling with a lonely sigh.
Marbles We can’t remember who ordered the Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio. She reaches tentatively for the red, so I take the white. “What did you think of the fashion show?” I ask. “What fashion sh…oh, the fashion show. Well I don’t know exactly. I never saw a dress made out of—what was it made out of, Nick?” My name is Dick, but no matter. “Metal and chains,” I say. In ninth grade algebra her walk from the blackboard back to her desk was like an undulating presentment of original sin. Now, a half century later, I’m having a glass of wine with her at a French Bistro in the Village, and after we just attended a fashion show—not a baseball or football game, mind you—but a fashion show. “Yeah right,” I would have said at the thought of it, “and I’m gonna walk on the moon one day.” Her hair is a ruffled pixie of tarnished silver. The lower extension of a tiny crucifix hanging from her neck points down to a hint of perfect cleavage. If only Viagra still worked, but as it stands, the bookends of my life as far as Cynthia is concerned are that I knew her before I knew anything and now again when I know everything but can do nothing. “Seen any good movies lately,” I ask. “Yes, indeed. Just last week I saw, oh what was the name of it, you know, the one with what’s her name, the actress who’s married to that actor—what’s his name?” We sit in a quandary. “You still got all your marbles, Nick?” she suddenly asks in earnest. “I suppose not.” “I went and did a silly thing, Nick. I went to a clinic that gives tests for early signs of dementia.” “Dementia? By Hitchcock, right?” “No. Dementia, as in marbles or the lack of them. They gave me a mini whaddaya call it.” “A what?” “You know—cog, I think it was.” “Cog?”
”Cognition,” she says loudly, as though I’m hard of hearing. “A mini-cog test.” Her head is cocked at a concentrated angle, and marbles begin to drop out of her ear. They plunk onto the hard wood surface of our table and roll around in widening semi-circles to the edge where they hesitate and then jump off, plunking again onto the tile floor. Each plunk is a jolt to our sensibilities, but we’re complicit in denial and stare through it. I glance down and notice that her marbles are the white opaque glass type, each with a thin red line meandering around its surface. They were among the most preferred marbles in Scranton when I was a kid. We called them spaghetti marbles. They’re earthy and steadfast, and I think it’s appropriate that Cynthia’s head is filled with spaghetti marbles. I noticed that the little suckers on my pillow this morning were of the coreless swirl variety, a more common type. There are many different kinds of marbles: Clearies, Milkies, Corkscrews, Sulphides; but the crown jewel of marbles is the Lutz, where golden veins of glass sparkle in continuous swirls and coppery crystals emanate a phosphorescent brilliance. They’re the rarest of all marbles and are found only in the most stunning and intellectual people. I doubt that any of my old high school classmates had Lutz marbles. My cell phone alarm beeps to remind me of my medication, but it seems to work for Cynthia also. She suddenly straightens in her chair and actually remembers something. “Oh my,” she says, “I have to get back for the whaddaya call it, the...” “The reception,” I hazard to guess. We get up and stand for a moment, seeing Kadachromes of our young selves in the older faces we wear. We come from the same strip-mined ravaged valley deep in the folds of Northern Appalachia. We have the same spring-like bounce in the balls of our feet that used to propel us up steep foothills after school to modest clapboard houses. In winters we carried the same shovels of anthracite coal from bin to furnace in dusty cellars and lugged the same heavy pails of gray ash out for pick-up on Thursday mornings. Cynthia and I are cut from the same starched cloth of virginal love, consecrated with babies too soon and lullabies too bittersweet. We know each other’s marbles. She starts fumbling with her wallet, but I take both her hands in mine and squeeze it shut. Gallant words allude me so I simply step forward to kiss her when a couple of those dam things—those marbles—are there again, rolling under the soles of my shoes, causing my feet to fly out from under me.
My calcium challenged bones are stretched out horizontally in mid-air between a floor of lost marbles and the bright sheen of a polished copper ceiling. It occurs to me that this is the summation of my life, as it were; an ever so brief suspension between two eternities that is about to come to an end with the slam of my body and crack of my skull.
Dejected Fly’s Death Note to a Mate Odds are, I’ll be dead before you read this. Good. Odds are you’re already airborne bloated with another stock of seed searching for sweet-dank rot— eggshells, chicken bones, heat-wretched diapers. Fine. It was too easy to find your back; your stink brutalized the air ‘til we all swam inside it. You parted your wings and gave your eggs all of me, like you asked. We’re born to mount n’ be mounted, to torture silence, eat the dead, then die. Remember, that day, how the wind was orange? Remember the geckos stuck flat to flatter stones eyeing our doubled self? Odds are, you don’t remember anything—it was forever ago. What was the point; all those flights-and-lightsand-darks, me just hoping to find you again—you sailing off, full of generations.
Cast Off in a memory before the womb I surrendered lips frozen blue & peeled eyes still probing for Regret- he who waited in the whitewashed plains for a train to trample through the thawing snow, silently newborn.
Winter Lines Winter is gifted at showing us the lines that were there all along: the leaves of the black ash and green ash buried in snow reveal the woody veins in all their twists and undulations, each bough chiaroscuro in black and white, a motionless, ephemeral drama. And all along the creek run more bare woods and just outside them a rabbit’s cursive tracks in the white— in and out and into the thin timber in a language I’m still learning to read, a dialect that’s all impression. Watching and not asking is what it asks us to do: zazen wrapped up in a down jacket and hat, hands tucked deep into our pockets, feet still.
In time that too will be taken from usâ&#x20AC;Ś (for AP)
Who knows what light or night will bring? What breaks inside a cell will spell the last thing that I see? Get old enough, you live with aches, those miles that never stop upon a map that has the mercy of a heart. I'm not the first and will not be the last whom love has anchored in the storms of life. The plot of this long tale cannot be long enough. But waves must crash, and winds disturb the leaves. Feel free to add your own clichĂŠ--all true as stars that fiercely burn until they cease, as winds become a silence when they're through. When I leave for that deep dark black I hope to hold onto her love, that sinewed rope.
I can decide with twenty percent greater accuracy whether pain is ethical or fictional than any unassisted human being can, whether the consequences of a single ministration and the consequences'
exaggerating or do not exist and everyone but me takes one step back and I'm the volunteer and I make room for you beside me in my narrow bed and gamble that you're not another mystery woman and the dream that will not be remembered is the dream I will not have.
One Amygdala One amygdala is fear plus pleasure, one is merely fear. You may apologize to me in letters from Alaska. Since you asked, I'm wearing all the clothes I own, the laws of nature don't apply to me, with equal masses crashing, Newton's Law says one must take the credit, one the blame, and Archimedes, cashing in, will have a hundred-thousand meter lever and a fulcrum and a special place to stand in outer space.
He says, grab them by the pussy This is when I wither: When the song stops. I am tired of writing another poem on misery dying birthing another stone child. Another poem where my body becomes another surgeonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s operation, except the surgeon is not a surgeon except his operation is not an operation but another way to touch me. As if the way he says guilt is not already fingered on my insides. My body is just another unsung birdsong, & this poem, I am tired of living.
He tells me I am a nasty woman, meaning empty; muddy. Pries open my breasts too sharply. Feasts like Sunday dinner. Sister tells me sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beginning to bleed like she is afraid & opens like the morning sky. Pours rivers too crimson & I say, this is only a way of our becoming. How the leaves never stop flowering. The wind a softer song. I tell this to my sister turned gardener turned woman. She smiles. Nasty women bleed roses, we say: An art so beautiful no one may grab.
Different Days (inspired by Jason Isbell)
What are you wearing? Pedal steel and pictures of my parents in the woods. The light was mostly strung up and leaking. Their smiles were mostly virginal and open-mouthed. The pedal steel increased their vision from Montana to the coast, by indirect routes. Saying, “Baby, I love you, get off of my goddamn back.” I bet your panties are soaked. It was the spring after I got my license and the air was still and wet and heavy and dirt-smelling. The light was half impossible and it hurt too much. You said “Do you know what I’m going to do now?” The light was a strange mix of blue and yellow that made gray instead of green. You ruined it by asking. Are you touching yourself? I pack this bowl in effigy. Ak-47 and resin tastes like a hotel room. Burn it down. Tar and feather it. Tie it to the bed and touch it till it screams. Make it watch New Girl till it believes in having feelings again. Buy it crotchless panties and coffee. Talk to it about religion. Truly, angrily, deeply. Tell it you don’t have trouble sleeping next to it, even without the Ambien. Lick your fingers and tell me what they taste like. A 1-800 number that you can call when you need to hear someone say “I love you.” Among other things. I want to go to the top of that mountain and throw myself off it. As long as you say the mourner’s caddish first, you can do anything you want to. Except sleep. And even then. A lot of the time it’s just your brain yelling at you to wash your sheets and stop living like this. And even then. I want to go to the bar, just to get dressed up and naked. Send me a pic of your toys, babe.
When I try to picture you in my head it’s always in a white room with no furniture. When I picture what you’re wearing it’s always a button down and jeans. When I picture what you drive, I never see the license plate. When I picture your family, I make them old-timey Civil War photos, except for your sister, who I picture fat and red-headed in some kind of punk school girl outfit. When I picture your dog, you are never there. When I picture your life in my head it’s always in a white room with blank walls and a single table with nothing on it, polished to a high sheen. When you whispered in my ear, I believed every word you said.
They Sweep Us Away
as we assemble
for a new day,
drives by filled with house
its roving eye,
after house, unseeing
milk at the corners of small mouths, hair brush, prayer rug, felted slippers, a quick reluctance of bare feet in dewy grass. And again
the next day
is there sometimes when we draw the curtains wide, sometimes not,
the sun, the urge to hold someone letting go
close, at the door.
Oronym When asked to choose between a world I love and language that makes me shake, I choose the cartographer each time. And each time let’s say I was thinking about what music it doesn’t make, this world, and what music it does. And the storm of it is that without fiercely studying what makes us go up and down about things it can seem all wrong or just a bright husk. But what about if we carried everywhere only the memory of trespassing the fog between us on that mountain, the night we invited ourselves in. And what if when we got there, it was only how desiccated in the coming and going the air became. Friend, if ever life were exquisite, it was how you swept rain from our bed before dusk that made it so. Now I hear our song-lines, and they do not die and reappear incrementally, there’s a buzz to it, a habit or a litany: how soft the inclines
of you, the night that includes you, our voices made of steel and butter entirely. Along the road there’s pleasure, clean and angelic, there’s char and there’s presence and when night broke so cold upon us without naming it I should have never walked away.
Chess You may take, if you must, my exercise privileges. You may take, if necessary, my television freedom. You may take, if absolutely required, my favorite nylon blue sweatshirt with the matching socks. You may even take my complete collection of the Boxcar Children, but let me reiterate, for the ten millionth time you pile of rotten fruits, you will never, ever, steal my doublestuff Oreos without reaping the consequences. So what if I unloaded an extravagant dump onto Carl’s chessboard? He kept calling me an “overgrown skunk” and “stinky whale” and since none of you reprimanded him, I held myself accountable to deliver justice. I should be commended for my valor. Instead my possessions are stolen from me? I’m sorry but telling Carl to “please stop calling Jeremy unpleasant names” does not suffice, obviously, because he continues flinging them at me with increasing malice. How have you not stolen any of his privileges? Your behavior is abhorrent. Do you not see how he grins at me over his discombobulated hill of chess pieces, which hopefully still reek of my excrement? He knows he’s receiving special treatment. I would not be surprised if you pile of rotten fruits are in cahoots with Carl and Carl is the one who swiped my Double-Stuffs. God knows what he does with them. I mean, in case you pile of rotten fruits have forgotten, the actual theft of my Double-Stuffs violates my rights as a patient of SpringCheer Psychiatric Facility, constituting specifically the “unwarranted removal of personal property.” The others, you may argue, were warranted. It all makes me wonder what extra privileges you rewarded Carl for his cooperation in the execution of your diabolical agenda. He certainly hides them well. From where I stand in the corner, which is as far away from him as possible, he has not inched from his chessboard. What concerns me most, though, is the fixation of his grin. Yu pile of rotten fruits wonder why I blame Carl, well, here it is: he hasn’t stopped grinning at me over his lump of chess pieces for the last two and a half hours. He is definitely pleased, probably just aching to tell me all about it but he knows he can’t if he wants to keep receiving his extra privileges. But hard as I bang my head, I cannot determine your motivations. My extravagant dump was, like I said, totally justified, so that is, unequivocally, not it. My Double-Stuffs, I believe, had
already been stolen by the time I began squatting. I suspect this because Barbara was screaming my name and punching her nose before you pile of rotten fruits whisked her away. Her disappearance, I might add? That’s no coincidence. You pile of rotten fruits drone on about shedding our previous behaviors, as a caterpillar escapes the confines of his cocoon to emerge as something new and colorful, a “triumphant transformation” you call it, but when should you be held accountable for your lack of transformation? Seems to me you keep repeating the same actions, in particular the neglect of your patients’ well-being, like mindless machines. Seems to me perhaps we should be monitoring you. Frankly your criticism of my so-called “decline in progress,” my apparent “interest in exhibiting prior behaviors,” my alleged “lack of motivation in self-improvement,” is an outright insult. You would be wise, sir fruits, to pay attention to the measure of your own progress. For example: the walls surrounding our recreational room. Do you know how many dents these walls have acquired? 8,473. Seems to me that’s a lot of dents. 417 dents alone, no, excuse me, 419 dents pockmark this one corner in which I am now facing so Mr. Grins-a-Lot will stop grinning at me. My guess is he hasn’t. And honestly, I can’t blame him. I’d wear a permanent grin too if I were being rewarded extra privileges. I’d wear a permanent grin if I could only lay my eyes upon my Double-Stuffs again. 427 dents, actually. If you paid attention to the measure of your own progress, sir fruits, these walls would be smooth as sand but none of you care to “transform,” do you? 433 dents. My head stings merely thinking about the extent of your neglect. You should be ashamed. 443 dents. All these chipped flakes of plaster are really so heartbreaking that I think I’d rather turn around and face stupid Mr. Smirks-a-Lot than stand beside them for one more disgusting second. You rotten fruits should closely assess his facial musculature structure. Seems to me it’s unnatural to contort your lips that way for that long. That’s over three hours now. Then again you rotten fruits don’t understand the meaning of “transform,” or “self-improvement,” or “progress,” do you? You are, I now realize, not fruits but big, empty-headed hypocrites. Need another example, sir big, empty-headed hypocrites? Carl’s chessboard, in fact his chess pieces. What a dilapidated hill of sharp, jagged angles, but does one of you ever stop and consider this mess? I think if you
did, despite your big empty heads, you would still recognize that your patient’s chessboard is unplayable and dangerous. So I’m going to teach you a lesson. Watch me sit down here across from this ridiculous excuse for a human specimen, whose grin, nauseatingly, elongates itself like some happy, nasty worm. Despite this, I’m going to show you big, fruity, empty-headed hypocrites what it means to do your job. Of course, I’m not at all confident that as I extract every single piece from the jumble and slide it into its proper position that any one of you will comprehend what is happening. Pity.
Up the Mountain In the letter, you talk about what you’ve done with the sheets that still smell like my hair. Guilty, they smell guilty, you write. I’m reading this letter in the bathroom during my work Christmas party. So instead of taking tequila shots with Jenny from marketing and hooking up with Oliver from HR in the coat closet, I am thinking about that day that your car almost didn’t get up the mountain but it did and you actually thanked God that we made it. I fold the letter up and plot a way to get from the bathroom to the elevator without anyone
at the party seeing me.
Black & White Girl
We Are Going to Share This Apple He was always scared of biting directly into an apple because of that time when he was a kid and fell out of a tree and had to get fillings in his front two teeth to fill in the cracks and he thought he would pull the apple away from his mouth after the first bite to see his teeth sticking out of it so I told him to find me on the spiral staircase in that building on the next street over from my apartment and when he walked up the first thirteen stairs, he found me leaning against the railing, tossing an apple up in the air and I held it out for him and told him that we were going to share this apple and I knew he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to but more than that I knew that he was going to take the first bite and I knew he would because of that day in May when he saw me with my hair down for the first time and because of yesterday when I pointed out the yellow specks in his blue eyes and he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know but I knew he would and he did.
About After the Pause is an online literary journal based in Indianapolis, IN, featuring poetry, flash fiction, and artwork, published quarterly. We also publish a yearly print anthology whose proceeds go to charity. We look to feature the best creative arts from new, emerging, and veteran creators. Find us here: afterthepause.com or @afterthepause
Purpose We believe art is a product of life experiences, from the joyful to the heartbreaking to the absolutely mundane. Life throws pauses at us. Art follows the pause. We want to share the best art we can find and bring hope through those artworks.
Cover Art â&#x20AC;&#x153;Asphalt Jungleâ&#x20AC;? by Betsy Jenifer
Departure Until next time.
Copyright 2017 All rights of the material within belong to the authors.