Contributors Charley Barnes is a poet, author and lecturer who drinks far too much tea. M. Eileen is writing near water. Erik Fuhrer is a gemini who can be found at www.erik-fuhrer.com. Steven Genise is a writer based in Seattle whose work has appeared in Natural Bridge, Soft Cartel, and was shortlisted for Epiphany's Best Under 30 Award. Jessica Hagy is a Pacific Northwest artist best known fro her webcomic Indexed and her books How to be Interesting and The Art of War Visualized. Caylie Herrmann is, among other things, a poet in Spokane, Washington. Robert P. Kaye is a fiction writer from Seattle with a website at www.RobertPKaye.com Kate LaDew is the nicest person in the room and if you don't believe that you can go to hell. Marya Layth is a writer from New Jersey whose poetry is forthcoming or published in Riggwelter Press, Capsule Books, Introspective Collective, and more. Lucas Peel is a long echo currently living in Aiea, Hawaii. C.C. Russell is a bag of cats roughly in the shape of a man. Kelly R. Samuels is still bookish and opinionated. Jerrod Schwarz teaches creative writing at the University of Tampa and edits poetry for Driftwood Press. Tyler Thier is an adjunct professor and freelance film critic residing in Brooklyn and reveling in â€œbad movieâ€? nights with his friends. Mark Vogel teaches at Appalachian State University and lives at the back of a Blue Ridge holler with his wife, Susan Weinberg, an accomplished fiction and creative nonfiction writer.
Edward Wells is just out front of the dark, forward tip of the crest of preponderance. Samuel Wronoski is roughly human shaped to within a few standard deviations of the mean and writes poems.
Projection When you move through a space, you move only through its floorplan. When you touch an object, your hands brush the detail drawing. When you’re outside, you observe the elevation. Otherwise imagine having to wake in the morning, look around your studio apartment (15’ x 30’ with a 2’ deep sliding mirror closet beside the bed, painted a shade of blue Valspar named encounter, with orange peel drywall) and consider rising into your living space (no couch, but you make your bed if a guest comes over, and that bed sits 18” off the beige carpet with mint sheets and a royal blue comforter, facing a 20” Samsung TV on a two-drawer chest, 31” x 17” x 20”, cherry vinyl with black handles, “Property of Southern Furniture Leasing”, and beside a copper gooseneck floor lamp your aunt bought you from Crate & Barrel). You’d have to leave your apartment through a door fire rated for 20 minutes to the common path of travel (sprinklered and less than 250 feet from the primary exit access, dark blue orange peel walls, nylon industrial carpet tiles, wall mounted uplights five feet off the ground and six inches to the right of each door). When your phone rings, it doesn’t have to be a white iPhone 6 Plus (6.22” x 3.06” x 0.27”, brushed metal backing with a rose gold finish), it can just be a phone. The screen doesn’t have to say MOM above a photo of a young woman with long brown hair (from before you cut it to look older) and an unbuttoned charcoal pea coat embracing an older woman (with hints of smile lines, nurse’s scrubs, and lavender perfume that tries to cover the hospital smell), it can be just a phone call.
When a soft voice asks if you saw her email about color palettes for the wedding (wine red and navy blue, with white and gold table settings, and an awful lot of mahogany), and whether red bridesmaids dresses (conservative, surplice) would work with your young skin compared to the other bridesmaids’ somewhat older skin, and whether or not that might highlight the fact that the bride (smile lines more muddled with frowns these days, and much more lavender perfume to impress a string of younger, leaner male suitors [whose face lines are honed instead by fine muscles]) has a few years on her maid of honor (31). And the voice you hear isn’t soft because it’s tender, but cracked and timid from hard times (6 years of increasingly severe emotional abuse following 10 more of cultivation and gaslighting), it’s just a voice. The world has infinite texture, infinite layout, so you reduce it to the twodimensional. The projections contain all information necessary to represent a world, but separate and digestible, all possibilities distilled into minor variations in line weight. Never more than you can handle. Wake up, leave your apartment, and answer your phone.
Robocop You always play the big words, and it’s unfair because you’re older than me. Erudite, and Dad, who always claimed it was strategy to play shorter, dumber words (he would say simpler), plays s to the end to make erudites. You challenge. When you smile, your lips bleed again. They’re cracked and raw, the dryness extending outward to your mouth, cheeks, your one dimple just above your chin and to the right. Your mouth is swollen for being so dry, and you look like a caricature. Mom slips you chapstick, and you cover your mouth like you’re coughing so the nurses don’t see you apply it. It’s contraband because it’s edible, and I’ve always wanted to ask Don’t they want you to be eating? Isn’t that the whole point? But I never do ask that. And so you and the other
girls, who are all skinnier since I last saw them, just have to deal with your cracked lips which bleed, and leave blood on the tissues, leave blood on the little paper cups, leave blood on Mom’s cheek when we leave each day. They’ve taken apart your life to rebuild you like Robocop. There’s just one piece out of place, but to find it, they have to dismantle you completely and start over one piece at a time. First, food, water, shelter, under careful observation. When you can keep that down, they let you go to the bathroom by yourself (but they still listen at the door, and only number one). Then the support of loved ones during the hours of five and eight-thirty. When you’re ready, they’ll let you have chapstick again, and maybe even shoelaces at some point. Then you’ll have a whole life, once you have chapstick and shoelaces.
The Bridge is Unbuilding Itself We all went out to watch the bridge unbuild itself. None of us had ever watched a bridge unbuild itself, and we didn’t realize how much the bridge had meant to us, but when they announced its unbuilding, sure enough we all showed up for it. They built the new bridge alongside it so that there would be no delay in ferrying passengers from city to city. When it was finished, they called the Guinness Book of World Records: Yes! It is the widest bridge in the world! It’s also the newest, at least for now. It’s also the most beautiful, we added. Yes, it’s taken eleven years to build. Yes, it’s opening 6 years behind schedule. Did it go 2500% over budget? Sure, we’ll admit that. But it’s got ten lanes! It’s seismically stable! When we decided we couldn’t just knock the old bridge down, but that we had to unbuild it, we placed ads in the local papers. Facebook groups
advertised watch parties and claimed the best spots around town. From one embankment, from the other embankment, from the bridge several miles away that could get a broadside view of the unbuilding so long as everyone remembered to bring a telescope or binoculars (and if bringing a reflector telescope, to remember that your image would be inverted). Some were opposed to its unbuildingâ€”turn it into a greenway, they insisted. It served us so well for a hundred years, we owe it that much. At least give it a name before you tear it down. But they were lost in the swell of enthusiasm. And rightly so! we said. Local ordinances prevented the use of fireworks in the dry season, but the coalition of local mayors, as well as the governorâ€™s office, issued a one-dayonly suspension of the ordinances, and so fireworks shows were set up on the city side of the bridge, the town side of the bridge, and everyone who watched the unbuilding from an adjacent bridge made sure to bring plenty of sparklers. On the day of the unbuilding, marching bands led a slow train of cars away from the old bridge and onto the new, the first commuters to be ferried along the gold haloed causeway. Construction crews blew explosive bolts on the old center span, a crane grabbed it by the trusses and lowered it safely onto a barge. When the barge foreman held a thumbs up, the crowd roared, fireworks erupted, sparklers, marching bands. The mayor, standing on the walkway on the new bridge, announced the dawning of another new era of humanity.
July 23, 1990-Present
The summer moaned a sultry song and water broke (the sky) I am a sun shower sibling born to night-calling sounds cicadas clatter like rattlesnakes coiled around my hair as a child, it curled in all directionsâ€”
they lead everywhere but home now my hair hangs abandoned around my face /a soundless sistrum/
or maybe a mane of waves washing up wrecked watercraft unknot it with careful fingers
coalesce disparities with one hand salvage the ruins with the other
reassemble the fragments of storm-tossed vessels, be the reason something exists out of what was once destroyed.
In the valley five miles wide, softened mountain air blends two four five blue rose green ridges. Close enough, a hawk dips, then glides, riding shifts of shadow, ignoring locals here to stamp approval on this meditation world headquarters. Freed from our gardens and clamoring children, we mutate willingly so quickly like butterflies into believers who chant peace prayers, speak quietly about the power of a conscious breath, happy to walk on this creek-stone floor sheltered by stained woodwork under an open dome. Before windows built for the long view our communal humming soothes chaos so together we see deep into crisp air. For who doesnâ€™t want dissension muted, explained by polished brochures with goals edited pure? Who doesnâ€™t crave a refuge where multitudes murmur a liturgy tapped out by drums? When the hawk floats closer, we too are elevated, enlightened even, as we see below cows in the pasture,
sure now we absorb deeper layersâ€”the spotted salamander under creek rocks, the heron patient standing in the pond, the horses munching grass, the pigeons wheeling, catching the sun. the walk to the cars is all ritual responseâ€” the worldâ€™s weight behind these sacred texts, this chapel alive with peace. Yet, a persistent mountain isolation leaks in as soon as we leave these grounds, driving back to land each of us was once sure we owned.
Five Routes of Explication1
I in the parking lot, you paused. a scream from the passengerâ€™s seat. the burning of shoulder blade with fingertips from the base of neck down and back again, skin catching, your thick thumb heavy. you burn and bury others in the way one can only screech silently for. you swore the act was out of love, the love you had for me. I swore it had ended, you spent subsequent weeks attempting to clear my memory but my cells would not allow it. I felt it in my skin for years the epidermis incapable of sloughing off or regenerating the tissue toughened like dried fruit in a dusty shade of apricot tight and taught and dry
no one can see you crying like this theyâ€™ll think I did something wrong
This poem originally appeared in Rogue Agent.
III STITCH UP. SEW. LICK THE THREAD STRANGLE THROUGH EYE OF THE NEEDLE AND CROSS-HATCH NEEDLE THREAD SUPERIUS ORIS NEEDLE THREAD INFERIUS ORIS NEEDLE THREAD SUPERIUS ORIS NEEDLE THREAD INFERIUS ORIS NEEDLE THREAD
IV proverb: should anyone notice, it is the fault of appearance, not causation. proverb: the sin of surviving is further singeing.
V once, you let me stay away, insisted you’d be there when I woke but there’s nothing here for you anymore. today I witnessed the scar swallowed up. you’ve left nothing here.
Edward Wells night
sun crested deliverance arrivals chaos wrath
finally sun crested
dark be how encounter
like the rock somewhere in Georgia
painted on one side ‘turn me over’ and on the other ‘turn me back that I may fool another’ I use all my strength to find a reason to believe you are worth all my strength, smearing the words painted clearly over every inch of you
Kelly R. Samuels
Say it and recall. Recite the lines twice, using the exact words like Telemachus to Penelope: the loom & distaff, tasks all her own. If not, what then? A narrative or moment with the sun behind, light in eyes. So speak & reel it in: how the mat unfurled and you lay quietly, trying to sleep, though unable to sleep, or how heavy the suitcase thrust across the threshold. Or, her hands on the top of your head, resting. Those who claim to remember from before even that, back and back, to the rocking in a rocking chair, milk warm from the favored breast are charlatans. This you know. From all those years later, nothing
but fiction & wish.
Kelly R. Samuels
Particles & Matter
August 2016, CERNâ€™s Large Hadron Collider Traces of, and then not. Nothing. Nothing fundamental, elementary, cracking open the unknown. Just more unknown. You will have this, they say. Hope dashed. And the continuing ignorant state, or rather: less than the ideal, the ideal defined as all the wealth of knowledge â€“ this that speaks of diversity and life. Ah, life! That which can be understood even by the layperson. Waking in the morning, the diligence and duty, cups of coffee, supper, bourbon in the evening. Touch. And: we will age. We will die. All this matter. This mass. Conjectures spoken of as supersymmetry. We begin to lose our way even in the report, the paragraphs. Another language, it seems, though nothing, nothing we comprehend. And blighted anticipation.
Ouroboros [ ]
i.I’ve done this more times than I’d like to admit. Again I’ve caught myself stuck on whether to [consume] or be [
(stuck on if there’s a difference, on my desire to be unbroken). I mourn the swords i throw myself on instead of swallow (even I wonder, now, what is metaphor). I always end up spitted through the middle again, seduced by my own glinting
blade. Is it
worse to be run-through, or go on-ii. I have see the future, baby— it’s where the dead come back. Another watery Corona. Another hand on my [hand/thigh/throat]. All of the ghosts in this apartment are laughing. I
the great divination machine. I have the gift of foreseeing the worst. I am a serpent, if I am to believe the scales. One day you will drink yourself out of this body
but for now, another
cigarette, another night bleeding into another morning headache, the damp earth falling open like an unhinged jaw.
the apartments upstairs creak a rhythm
like a pulse.
I thumb the vein of dark, the quiet
The baseboard hums a nocturne and the mattress shifts and heavies beside. An arm curls loosely around my middle. My heart warps backwards
to my mother
palms on the flat skin of my stomach, hunger-eyed and prayingâ€”and the mattress shifts and heavies. O sleepy heat O slick honey yellow O oracle rubbing petrol on my belly. Thereâ€™s a warm glow embering in the core that the body can not fan. I tongue the thought like a sore tooth.
I want I want
INVOCATION WITH GOD COMPLEX
i.A PROBLEM OF GOD is electric to the tongue. Weâ€™re all in conversation when things start to go sideways. Looking for god in everything. god as a plastic bag, god as a muppet, god as gameshow host. goddamn it all. god as mothermaker. Unmaker.
god as the word
and the weight of it
in a mouth in a bedroom by a hospital cot
in confessional. god
contacted through a piece of metal on a chain, a totem, a sliver of quartz on leather. god forgotten again when god slips loose through the teeth.
To the dead spider inside the back cover
An intake of breath â€“ a shock, the smallness of the body against all that white, upon closer inspection one leg missing, no eyes to be seen. The cause of death? A seeking: the spider blindly follows where hunger leads it. Did he see the moon in the whiteness, wanting to consumer a broader, cleaner body than the terra we have known? an expanse of snow untrodden upon, abundance in absence of threat. The foreign begs possession & suddenly the blankness turns overwhelming & dark & suddenly we are one & the same & my body is smeared against the page & I regret not
noticing a life before letting the cover shut, the book drop. Little one, I’m sorry
I was afraid & I’m sorry – I never meant for it to be this way, I breathe out, wondering when I’ll stop speaking to what can’t hear me.
Nevada Test Site Archipelago
Imagine not a sequence of islands but their inverse, scattered children of Charybdis: pools of churning air where land should be. Imagine burning. Then, the quiet growth of sage and tumors, the hardiest plants. In those years, we envied the moon for its skin. The sun for its fire. Our adversaries for their propensity to shoot their ambition skyward. The dream of becoming a country with impenetrable skin eyed us like satellites, eyed us feverishly mixing our chemical elixirs. The thoughts of invulnerability, of the stoic cosmos radiating back our happiness, made glad to overlook, beneath the turbid garment of our dust, another body rendered wounded.
The house is full of knit one, pearl one, knit – booties that can’t find feet and blankets that are concealing plates of half-eaten food. A snood hangs from the chandelier in the hallway. A donation bag sits at the bottom of the stairs, bloated with bibs and shop-bought blankets – not like hers, not quite as good. But someone will make use of them, she’s sure. She keeps on with her knit one, pearl one, knits compulsively like a life might depend on it – like enough warm knitwear will start circulation; breathe back oxygen; unravel the cord.
I pass through the Apocalyptical doorway stuffed with Tweedle Dees and carpenters building sandcastles out of rotting meat and twitch my bewitched nose three times in bewilderment The apocalypse is bedazzled with walruses whisking their whiskers through its inner meat as I crawfish my body past their surveillance and stand before a giant hat beating steadily like a watch or an army about to strike The apocalypse is a ripple in time ripped through the felt of my terrycloth heart and I am in so deep that I can no longer see light other than the flame in a rub a dub tub of oysters simmering on low-heat
At Home with the Apocalypse
Tears for Fears synthesizes on the vintage record player as the apocalypse devours each of my records one by one whetting its appetite The apocalypse is a horn is a balloon is a putty knife is a cob of a corn grown in Iowa but shipped to Milwaukee is a stab is a hum is a I’m going to is a I’ve already is a As night’s pocked poppy rises in the sky the apocalypse and I starfish against its gruyere stare The apocalypse is a kitchen table is an egg timer pl pl plurring is a coffee bean roasting in my palm
Robert P. Kaye
Beyond the Eye
Hurricane Bartleby pulled into town and parked his cycloptic eye right over our cul-de-sac. The leading edge of the storm dumped green water, fish and yard flamingos. It de-shingled roofs and snapped palm trees like soggy breadsticks. The usual stuff. We’d put up plywood and stocked pantries with beer, pretzels, peanut butter and Funions and filled bathtubs with fresh water. We were prepared for the one hundred and eighty mile an hour winds, but not for what didn’t happen next. All we wanted was for Bart to move on so we could get going with FEMA claims, rip out moldy wallboard and buy new appliances and jet skis the way we had, what, six, seven times before? We were not prepared for ol’ Bartleby to park on our street. Now there’s an eerie stillness in a circular green sky with mile-high cloud walls. A perpetual disaster on pause. Balmy, yet tranquil. Lots think the stupid name is to blame. We’ve all read the Melville story by now, which is a damn sight easier to get through than Moby Dick. We like to yell “Get the hell out of town Bartleby,” at neighbors when we see them float by. The correct response is always “I would prefer not to.” It’s gotten so the whole thing is a parable for our age, maybe better than the Book of Job or Waterworld. How so, you ask? I’ll tell you, because I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment. The eye has been parked over our neighborhood so long that NASA has a satellite pretty much devoted to Bart. It’s gotten so the Coast Guard has to do our grocery shopping, the orders sent down via helicopters crewed by guys in rubber
suits, whose names we all know. It’s gotten so we send our kids to school in canoes and kayaks and they’ve got what is probably a world class water polo team by now, although how are we really gonna know anything about progress when we’re trapped here? Sometimes I sit in the backyard in my floaty armchair and I look up at the wall of cloud into ol’ Bart’s one green eye. The birds fly round and round or back and forth. I think, shit, this is pretty good, even if the pretzels are all soggy and the jet skis are only good for the same big circle. It’s certainly better than getting pummeled by the maelstrom a half-mile outside our little island of calm. In fact, I’m gonna miss ol’ Bartleby when he dissipates and that bone crushing cleanup starts. All just to get back to where we were before. The dreary fact of getting on with the rest of our lives in the wake of this spiraling disaster.
Reading the Missing Persons List on Wikipedia
Picture the man on grainy surveillance footage, his panicked face scrunching like a mask as he fast-walks out the sliding glass doors, looking over his shoulder, disappearing into the trees beyond the airport, luggage abandoned beside a restroom closet. Imagine the van parked off to the side of the school baseball field, obscured by chain links, windows like black vortices, and the girl walking directly past its patch of curb, catching its anchored silence only in her periphery, eyes fixed on the pizzeria down the road. See the rouged lips imprinted on the carâ€™s window in that empty field, a toddler, untouched, squirming in the back seat, the spotless leather finish of a driverless wheel. You can keep reading, but instead
you fall asleep, go about your day, drive to work, hope that if you turn to glance at the passing trees you wonâ€™t see the man from the airport staring back with a muted scream, or the deep wells in the eyes of the girl, or from the car in the field, something else entirely.
The reviews are in:
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see an author the likes of him and agree with all of her decisions. Many will be entirely of a place where two words could be chosen, and one simply had to write down something. “To continue,” others will say, “is almost useless in a world where most inventions come across as competent,” and point to dove-tail joints and circuit boards as evidence of good construction. Some will notice he repeats himself, and question if he cares the way a mother should about his sentences. No less obvious will be the use of jargon words like ‘rostral teeth’ splitting through the backs of poems as sawfish blades have done in places. You may recognize a phrase or two he’s used without permission. Otherwise, he’s more or less unparalleled and waiting for a single word to set off all creation.
see the world topographic wrinkled fabric, slow accumulation of breath how we describe snow in blankets, head on rocky chest a quiet hearth radiating refrigeration as day unbecoming kitchen, split picking berries from folded breast flayed, spread bare how we want the thing but not the being that encompasses it these days you have found anotherâ€™s skin for the knife calloused, grated scale tiny coins left behind a currency of tissue purple mountain majesty, postmarked in foil a timer dings in the distance tells us to be done with waiting
Here’s my address: 509 Jeanal Place Tampa, Fl, 33612 I’m begging you to print out this poem, cross out the last stanza, and mail me your own definition of almostlove \ol-most , luhv\ :very nearly tumbling down the hospital’s emergency stairwell and crying and pressing me against the purple, tender hill of your stomach and bursting outside, all smiles because you and I are finally two bloodstreams and you will teach me to spell cherish and genes and whisper that every sound is just a morning shadow of the word soul, but all your really do is hand me over to the lawyer, and his cold hands do their absolute best to sell me on the gravity of love-by-choice and yes, I often sleep through the night but no, I have never dreamt of anything other than a body made of stars, a skin I will never reach.
Last Night I Dreamt I Was Writing My Own Song Over The Lyrics Of Soko’s “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow”
I stole her chorus. Asked you to play the chords to back me. I stole her chorus, added my own slur to the verses. I stole her chorus but threw our story in between revisions.
Founded in 2014, After the Pause is an online literary journal based in Indianapolis, IN, featuring poetry, flash fiction, and artwork, published quarterly. We look to feature the best creative arts from new, emerging, and veteran creators. We also run a small, nonprofit press called aâ€Śp press, which publishes titles of experimental poetry and fiction. Find us at afterthepause.com or on Twitter @afterthepause The managing/founding editor of After the Pause and the overseer of its entire doings is Michael Prihoda.
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 Designed by Michael Prihoda.
Departure Until next time.
Copyright 2019 All rights of the material within belong to the authors.
The Spring 2019 issue of After the Pause features poetry, flash fiction, and visual poetry from 14 international contributors.
Published on Mar 1, 2019
The Spring 2019 issue of After the Pause features poetry, flash fiction, and visual poetry from 14 international contributors.