After the Pause Volume 3, Issue 2 Summer 2016
…this is an experiment…
Sudeep Adhikari is a Structural-Engineer whose poetry has been featured in various online literary Journals/Magazines. Michael Albright has published poems in various journals, curates the "Under the Sign of the Bear" reading series in Pittsburgh, and is Managing Editor of the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Spencer Bonfiglio is a writer and poet living in Murrysville, PA who's aware that his last name sounds funny. Elizabeth Forsythe is pop-punk trash living and writing in Chicago, where she will complete her MFA in Poetry at Columbia College in May 2016. Richa Gupta is a high school junior with an affinity for writing poems about challenging math problems. Deborah Guzzi writes full time; her book, The Hurricane, is available now through Prolific Press. Kyle Hemmings is an anonymous ear. Colton Huelle is a poet and educator currently living in Newmarket, NH. Laurie Kolp is reading newspapers online these days, mostly for the crossword puzzles and word jumbles. Dylan Macdonald is a recent graduate of the University of San Diego. John Manuel Arias would rather sink than call Brad for help. Keith Nunes is a 50-something New Zealander who has been published around the globe and often in his head. Matt Olive is a poet and student from Nashville, TN, where he is nearing the completion of his undergraduate degree. Jackson Sabbagh is a drag queen poet. Logan Seidl is idly waiting for the fall when he will start the University of Nevada, Reno's MFA program. Kailey Tedesco is the ghost of a long-dead mermaid. Rebecca Took is an undergraduate at Oxford University, studying English Language and Literature. Carter Vance is a student of social work and observer of human interaction; he currently lives in Northern Ontario. Elizabeth Jane Whittington is made of kindness and relentless longing. Please send dark chocolate. Alexandra Wilcox is a word worshipper, chocolate-hunter, dog amasser, global education enthusiast, and recovering attorney. Gen Del Raye is still dreaming about PelĂŠ's runaround from 1976. Merran Jones is happy her piece on rejection wasn't rejected. Jono Naito is an MFA candidate at Syracuse University and Assistant Editor at Salt Hill. S. Charles Park is spiritually connected to skunk and deer. Nick Roth attended UCLA and the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. Lilian Vercauteren was born and raised in the Netherlands, but exchanged the grey skies, great cheese and windmills for the open skies of the American West in her early twenties.
Anne Anthony is photographer and writer living in North Carolina. Jennifer Seaman Cook is a (@) Histouroborus. Tiegan Dakin is a teenage writer, artist and blogger whose work and rants of many varieties have appeared or are forthcoming in Gravel Literary Journal, cahoodaloodaling, Blue Bonnet Review, and her blog, (https://harbourwave.wordpress.com) among others. Kathy Douglas is a poet who holds an MFA in Poetry from Bennington College. Renoir Gaither is a mailbox. Thomas Gillaspy is savoring the moment. Melinda Giordano is a native of Los Angeles, California. j4 is a collective of four persons compelled to explore transindividual composition. David Russell is an aspiring polymath, practising painting, photography, writing poetry, fiction and criticism, and music (singer-songwriter). Dig Wayne is an artist living and breathing in Los Angeles California: digwayne.com. Michael Prihoda is the founder and curator of this magazine.
The Lost Art of Making Galaxies From Zero1 Temporary interludes. Memory crashes on you and you start again like a new island, with new greens, some liquid blue, a small rag of ether and some dusted diamonds for the sand. The shadows of relations and relativities, linger. Reverse engineering of absolutes and permanence, to make home from the incessant flux of vortices, changes and ephemeral ghosts. In the box , a man lives in pieces, quantums and discontinuities and outside: a gestalt, a mosaic or a painting a Janus, with the faces of gutter and God. Truth is an untruth. Permanence is a fabrication there is no finding the meaning of life, because it was never lost, and because it was never there. Androids play the language-game, lost in the maze of Turing-Tests. I have nothing to say, I have nothing to do but I keep saying it in a john Cage way, and I keep running their marathons. Freedom. It is no more than enjoying the game, when you realize its emptiness but keep making the shapes of water-bubbles and fireflies.
1 This poem first appeared online at Tuck Magazine.
Rejections Dear [insert name],
Thank you, once again, for sending us your work. We’re glad you noticed the section on our form that permits multiple submissions. We appreciated the opportunity to read, ‘Pineapples Need Not Apply’—about as much as we appreciated, ‘Society Likes its Soap’—however, it wasn’t the right fit for us. Frankly, it was a little baggy around the shoulders. Tightening your prose might help. Then again, it might not. As you know, we like long, rambling pieces that are succinct and precise. Word count must be ‘over 6000 whilst under 3000’, yet you continue to disregard this. While we’re at it, let’s run through our other rules again. (What the hell, we only have 12,000 other submissions sitting in our inbox.) Your work must adhere to British and US grammar and spelling. You might consider brushing up on The Chicago Manual of Style and the New Oxford Style Manual, 3rd Edition (we know it hasn’t been released yet, but that’s no excuse). We accept translations, but no work that wasn’t originally written in English. Submissions must be sent by post only with a SASE containing Canadian, New Zealand, US, and Australian postage. And since we’re based in the London, of course, only UK postage should be used. Canadian, New Zealand, US, and Australian stamps are of no use to us, so please stop sending them. It’s really not hard to grasp, is it? Please send your submissions via submittable, paying the $50 administration fee. Payment should be made in pounds sterling. And please stop sending your work via post and submittable. Email only to: submissions@PrestigiousJournal.com, attaching your work as a Word or PDF file. Please paste your piece into the body of the email as we
emphatically DO NOT open attachments. The bio in your cover letter should be between 50 and 51 words. Again, it’s not that hard is it? You still seem not to grasp what we’re looking for either. As we’ve said, we like: ‘traditional literary fiction that is experimental, daring, and stretches the confines of form’. It must contain romance, sci-fi, horror, erotica, and a liberal dash of curse words, but please, no genre pieces. And we don’t accept work that contains erotica or foul language. Pieces of that nature will be deleted unread. How widely a person has read is reflected in their work. Base your writing on the likes of William Shakespeare, George Orwell, and Nora Roberts. But please, we want something original, so don’t copy others. Also, we’re not a fan of what the current market is churning out, so if you could write a piece 20 years from now and send it to us, we’d be more inclined to consider it. In fact, if you could completely defy the laws of space, time, and their respective continuum, fold yourself into a subatomic particle, and submit your work from a fourth or fifth dimension (we don’t care which, we’re not fussy), it will, once again, give you a greater chance of being considered. We really don’t think we’re asking too much. Do you? Another point we feel the need to stress is that your pieces are too melancholy. Try to be a little more upbeat, would you? Also, we hate work that is too chipper. Please consider this in future. It might help if you developed a decent case of self-loathing, anxiety, and depression. We suggest you take up drinking. That should speed things along. (We know it’s clichéd but in your case, it’d be for the best.) As you know, we aim to reply to all submissions within 3-193 days. We hate leaving people at extremely loose ends. Perhaps the aforementioned alcoholism will help to pass the time as we reject, ‘Love Under the Norwegian Sun’ yet again. And again on a personal note, we suggest you learn how to disable the ‘caps lock’ function on your keyboard. We’re able to read, ‘Marriage is the Splice of Life’ quite clearly without the entire text in bold. Your cat may be able to
assist you with this. Finally we’d like to add that we applaud you. We understand how scary it is for writers to share their work with the world, and how painful rejection can be. Please be assured, this is not a reflection of you as a person, it’s just this piece wasn’t right for us because you’re a crappy writer and it’s obvious your Mum never loved you. We hope this story finds a better fit elsewhere, but know it probably won’t. And we hope you’ll consider us again—a long time from now. In future, please post with an SASE and Atlantis postage to this address: fakeaddress@PrestigiousJournal.com.co.uk.au.za. With lukewarm regards,
The Editors Who’re Chipping Away Years of Your Life
Errors in the Morning Paper2 Torn between a desire to strike and conquer or form an alliance, the docile kid is a ghost humored with noises, a habit he can’t break. Words drift away like the speech of old people or form an alliance, the docile kid is a ghost. Trees in August point in different directions words drift away like the speech of old people as he tells his body to do something it won’t. Trees in August point in different directions pendulous gold earrings shape into Brazil nuts as he tells his body to do something it won’t women drive into buses, spare him humiliation. Pendulous gold earrings shape into Brazil nuts like the people on porch steps when he was a boy women drive into buses, spare him humiliation the morning paper with eight errors a task. The people on porch steps when he was a boy humored with noises, a habit he can’t break the morning paper with eight errors, a task torn between a desire to strike and conquer.
Found poem. Source text: John Updike’s Rabbit at Rest j
Anxiety Ask me if we can play the animal word game. Tell me I cannot use black bear, brown bear, because those are too easy. Ask me what constellations and planets are in the sky. How I time travel with a telescope. Ask me about the diets I have researched at 2 a.m., after I watched you fight off sleep. Ask me how exercise reduces stress, which reduces anxiety. Ask me why I read instead of watch television. Ask me why I spent 60 hours a week at work. Ask me how many hours it takes to truly master the valley fold. Ask me about the water patterns required for sweet black berries in July. How each cane will only fruit once.
How you must cut and throw out what has just rewarded you. Just once, ask me if I have anxiety about your anxiety. Ask me how long the basilisks can walk on water. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know, but I can tell you when they started.
Imprints You have no memories of it, of course, at least none that are your own. You have the stories you’ve been told. About the oak your brother climbed, the pond down the garden path where he went ice skating, the long driveway where your parents taught him to ride a bicycle before you could even walk, their dog Tucker who caught a baby bird, and you wonder, is that the same tree whose branches, even bigger now, broke the window upstairs? You lay your bike down in the grass near the mail box. You are twelve now and standing in front of the house where you were born. Your father still owned the house after the divorce and now, today, he is moving back in with his new furniture, his new job, his new wife. Objectively, it is a nice house. Large windows, two balconies. The steps to the entry way are slickened by moss. The arched front door gently falls back into its locks behind you. From the vestibule you can see the fireplace, a lush green haze behind the French doors, smooth plastered walls, wood floors stretched under crown molding, a spiraling staircase. Far away you hear your father speak with the movers. He told you to pick one of the attic rooms. It would be yours, for the weekends you and your brother will spend here. There are other noises, pipes breathing, the house inhaling and exhaling, drafts of air slamming doors. A large truck drops off a dumpster in the front, hinges shriek, metal scrapes the cobblestone driveway. Your brother is outside too, pulling tools out of the small shed. He missed having a garden. You find a ladder of stripes on the wall in one of the small bedrooms upstairs. The highest one says “7 years”. A coloring book is forgotten in the closet. Your brother's name is scribbled, some of the letters reversed, next to outlines of plump gnomes covered in the same, faded pencil scratches. The pages are thickened and stiff, like they never anticipated to be turned again. All the bedrooms have carpeting. It used to be cream colored and was soft once, you can tell. It had been the kind that is warm, the kind that asks you to take off your shoes and socks, so that it sticks up between your toes. You forgo the steep attic stairs and find the large bedroom bathing in afternoon light, instead. Like a grandfather clock, the old oak ticks against the window. The carpet is pressed down in squares and rectangles the way grass remembers a picnic. It kept blueprints of where the bed had been, by the window that lets the light come in amber shards. Smaller squares for night
stands on each side. On the opposite wall, a memory of a dresser, your mother’s dresser with the carved mirror frame surely and next to it; perhaps a crib. The carpet is lighter in those spaces, not as darkened and clumpy as in the places where their feet had walked, yours too, you consider. You sit down in the middle of the empty room, inside the large rectangle. It was here maybe, where stories of brave squires and kings, pirates’ daughters and their dragons were whispered in a sea of pillows, where the moon came down after a restless night, tears for bad dreams wiped, and where, you think, your mother had been happy, hopeful. You were a family, within these walls. There are the nails, that must have held the four of you inside a single frame pictured outside on the steps. A wedding picture in a sparkling field. Your father kneeling next to your brother on the bright red tricycle and Tucker in matte sepia. The nails are still there, the dog long gone, the photos cut up. You know the stories well. Of the oak your brother climbed and fell out of, and its branches that broke the window because they grew too big, the roof that leaked silently, mold that blossomed, blistering the wallpaper, of the other photos, the throat gripping, extended business trips, choking, scratches on his face, of children crying, the dog dropped off at the pound. One of the movers almost trips over you. He puts a box down on the edge of the bed. The imprint is deep and the box totters where the sunken carpet meets the darkened ledge. He winks at you and asks if you like your new home. He doesn’t wait for an answer, only the scent of his sweat lingers. A staleness fills the room as more boxes cover the nightstands, the crib, the dresser. You can hardly see them now, the ruins of your family. A large painting that used to hang in your father’s apartment leans against the wall with the nails. He is calling your name somewhere. You have to leave. If you get on your bikes now, you will beat the dark. Come back tomorrow; you can help fill the dumpster. It’s waiting in the dusk like an open, quiet mouth.
Empty fall other things land soft But I know you knew Two years ago you had a memory of Such few furnitures & burnt forks & fast-food looks In the mirror with nasty glasses: Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sorry Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more tangible the first time sure Hot-n-ready chef at the bread table with the kids & the criticisms not yet heavy enough for judgement but still tear because you were sewn at their age too before bluelight set its gaze on the cookies after But better for all the raw plans you roomed with to go out to inspire to change into the perfect skin you saw once in the mirror with nasty glasses you can finally reach.
Anchor-parts weathered moss sways Harsh waves gone safe trailing off Into the next big display of some forgotten obsession Delicious lesson from a thirst unpraised By rocks on the sidewalk-colonnades: We used to play pretty chalk-figurines Paved-on law to bring another art more marked Lost to smithereens praying on the god-stalk of wrinkled Fingers wrapped around practice-chains in name only Blamed for a still in dadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fashion magazines traded in For the sound a child makes on chewable gasoline reeks in Memories of not us messengers gone gray fading into a picture Of Thermopylae ripped men Kicked to colorings.
tell them you appreciate their understanding tell them beauty fades love ebbs nothing lasts forever not even forever say you still love each other but can't be in the same house tell them you will still be a family just not all at the same time say everything falls tell them apart because entropy say better to have one happy than two miserable tell them everyone is miserable say the world is a paradise but each garden grows an apple of discord tell them you meant well how hard you tried tell them your most beautiful lies say there's nothing to be afraid of tell them ghosts are only sheets flipping on the line tell them this will get easier not to burn the sky they'll forget what they've lost tell them this hole won't be the last they fall through say you're in it together tell them it's called the nuclear family because of the shadows left when it explodes
The Tar Pits of Los Angeles Tear the tar from the fur: impossible task. And those tusks, white to black. Tears mix with tar as oodles perish. Ten thousand years elapse. Scoop up a fresh batch, lug it to your pad, and sizzle in an iron pan. Tar cakes for breakfast. One stacked on top anotherâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;like the years since the tar trap swallowed its first. Swallow the cakes. Or inject black tar through white skin. Choose your demise, unlike those dumb beasts.
Nietzscheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Guide to Etiquette Dining: If one among you uses the occasion of a holiday dinner to drag God to the table in the form of conversation, know that you are dealing with a member of the species of priests, whether he wear the collar or not, and that the priest can only imagine one great danger: science. Therefore, do not let the passing of the mashed potatoes be accomplished without a mention of the work of Richard Dawkins. If you have been invited to a dinner party and told to bring nothing, only to discover upon arrival that others have brought wine, cheese, crackers, or other sacrificial offerings paid by the weak to the strong, you must point out to the guests that only the bleating flock happily shares its meals and that, among the lions, who feast on the lower orders, none brings to the table more than himself, his claws, and his cutting teeth. Besides, the email specifically said not to bring anything. If you find yourself at a cocktail party being offered canapĂŠs, remember that to take one from the tray when at first presented is to announce your weakness. You must will to suffer hunger. Further, to so much as know your self-denial as suffering is slavery. For there is nothing respectable to the strong about suffering. Only the feeble revel in their miseries, only the decrepit make known their woe. Let it be seen by the other guests that only upon the third offering of those little crackers with a dollop of cream cheese on them topped by a fold of prosciutto will you submit to your hunger, and only after having proven to the waiter who is master.
Dating: Should you find yourself on a blind date and the woman be not as her picture would have made her out, rise from the table at once and make haste for the door. For ugliness is a sign of crossbreeding, of arrested development due to the mixing of blood, and she is undoubtedly a repository for all the vices and bad appetites. At the very least, refuse to pay the check.
When confronting a woman on a first date, remember that the greatest triumph for her is the spiritualization of sensuality, which is love, but that the greatest triumph of spirit in man is hostility, and that the man’s hostility must dominate the woman’s sensuality, and that he must use his hostility to dominate even his own sensuality. Therefore, even if all should go as one would will, wait at least three days before calling her again. There is nothing worse than a woman with desires. For desires are a form of ideals, and there is nothing behind ideals, nothing that is not absurd, sick, unworthy and exhausted. To buy a woman a box of chocolates on St. Valentine’s is therefore to reward her for her weakness and make yourself as unwholesome as she. If you must grant her anything on this unholy day, then grant her the peace of solitude and yourself the same. In order not to become a woman’s pet himself, the man must not give in to her nauseous and sentimental attachment to her dog. For men dwelt among wolves from the first as raging foe and only after the beast had enslaved itself to man and in the end became his exhausted and mutilated victim, did men allow them near. The only proper attitude, therefore, when presented with a woman’s rhinestone-collared Chihuahua, is disdain.
Workplace: Since empathy is a chimera, and no man at his desk will willingly take on the sorrows of the fool next to him, never attempt to plumb some imagined depth of sincerity when you commiserate with him. Mimic his movements and he will think you sincere, for he will judge the external as he would a mirror and find himself reflected there. And when you have finally convinced him of your sincerity, take into account his impotence and use it to undermine him at staff meetings. If you are standing by the water-cooler and find yourself next to a gossip who would engage you on their side of a quarrel concerning the value of some particular Netflix series, know that you are being drawn into the cheap conspiracy of the sectarian. And know that those whose cause is failing feel they will remain weak until they have hunted down intelligence to join them in their weakness and made up in quality what they lack in quantity. Therefore, return to the weakling only silence and a withering gaze and go quietly to
your cubicle and make manifest to your co-workers by your reticence that you belong neither to the party for Jessica Jones, nor for Grace and Frankie, but for yourself you stand always.
The Brian Wilson Tapes #1 One night at a party, Brian Wilson told Van Dyke Parks that he wanted to make an album in the solitude of the desert. He said he wanted it to be free from the whirl of his corrupted thoughts, the illusory relief from pain killers, from villains posing as heroes. [He wanted to throw dust in the face of the Beatles.] Van Dyke Parks put down his Martini and said, "I will accompany you. This room is full of too much smoke & chain-link gossip."
They strode into Desert Valley, began singing into a tape recorder. When tired, they drank the dry hot air over white sand, and on Zabriskie Point, they stood on tip toe, chanting the truth in B-flat, E-minor. Van Dyke Parks said, "The lyrics are coming to me in the shape of clouds. But we have arrived too late. Our voices are quarter notes of what we no longer own." Brian said "Thirsty."
The Brian Wilson Tapes #2 A black bird began to peck at Van Dyke's nape while he was resting near an abandoned jeep, overturned [as in U. ] Van Dyke shooed it away. Then, he became too light for the earth & floated up into the scorched sky. After finishing the tape himself, Brian felt heavy, entertained the notion of walking back to the city, surviving on nothing but sand. He forgot the tape. He forgot the singing mummies under cracks in the hard dirt. He envisioned the whole desert as littered with bandages & cryptic stones. The stones were blind pop tunes waiting to be discovered. Brian was born with one deaf ear due to a blunt birth trauma. Growing up semi-eared, Brian often said "Learning Beethoven is a beech."
The Brian Wilson Tapes #3 A wondering drifter who was once a promising folk singer in the LA cafes found the tape, picked it up, then flung it. It kept twirling around him as the wind blew everything back into his face. He felt there was some kind of message in that--perhaps, he should go back to his first vocation, even though hardly anyone would book his acts, in the same way that few radio DJs would play any of Brian's songs, claiming they were no longer "hip". A sunflower grew in the spot where the tape lay curled and torn. The broken tape began to speak to the sunflower. The sunflower said "Feed me." A wind blew through Santa Monica. There was no surfing over hot spots.
The Brian Wilson Tapes #4 Brian sat at the piano and played some watered-down Gershwin. The couple, disciples of Go-dem, disappeared into the bedroom, undressed, and made desperate love in the sharps and flats of forgetting themselves. Remembering her slain father's face for a moment, its various contortions and the anguished cries for mercy, how she drove the knife through this and that point, the girl reached a salty climax. [Some love the pun "White-capped wave."] After they dressed and reached the living room, they discovered that Brian had left. But the piano keys kept playing themselves, a soulful version of Rhapsody in Blue. The girl sat down at the piano, turned to her boyfriend, and said "My father used to love this song." The boyfriend smiled and said, "C'mon, baby, it's time to go." She tried to get up but remained, stubborn as the echo of surf in the room.
I Am and Always Was I don't scream above a whisper I don't look out the rear window of moving cars I stopped being unfaithful when I stopped eating chocolate 7 tattooes in 8 days in my forties I love women's bodies but I don't recognise who is inside them my penis had a driver's license before I did no-one nags me more than I do I believe deeply but just for a day how long has that sky been there? I love toilet seats with blood splatters the prostitutes always said the nicest things if you enter this head bring a 3D maze map and KY jelly the blame, as I see it, rests with the amphibians who should have stayed in the fucking sea
Floral Denizens With angles jagged, bits of ceramic protrusions starkly contrasting with the linoleum floor, its remnants scattered confusedly about, mingled with shards of shining glass that reflect the sunlight as it glares down. Its golden force enough to unsettle an immovable object, for isn't the sun an irresistible force? Having settled on the mantelpiece, for years on end, housing the flowers that had woefully keeled. Due to the harsh sun that refused to reduce the passion with which it burned. Due to the sorry paucity of sustenance, of respite from stifling days whose ardor never cooled, due to an unfathomable weakness that had never existed before, did the flowers drop from the pride of an incomparable beauty. To the misery of loneliness, whose only comfort was the lone ceramic vase whose cracks widened with each elapsing hour, courtesy of the overwhelming heat, whose ardor never deigned to cool. Whose rays forced grace to stoop to inelegance, which compelled the formerly vibrant stalks to yellow and crumble, also obliging the once purple petals to wither, to droop sadly to the side, upsetting the precious, the delicate balance of the plants. Letting the vase tip one day, precariously, to the right, sending it hurtling, streaking to the linoleum floor, ending in a deafening shatter of ceramic against the unyielding, beige flooring. Then creating absolute chaos from tranquility, unsightliness from past beauty, violent pink fragments from a united piece of ceramic craft, whose denizens lay dispersed amid the wreck of skill, which was provoked by the glowing sun
A Candied Maelstrom warm and snug, cozy and comforting. providing respite from a biting chill, to frozen fingers that wrap around it, glad, seeking the warmth characteristic of its glazed exterior, around aromatic cup which lingers the sweet delights of a sound warm, of of saccharine rivers, a dark chocolate pond a fiery melting the glacial shards of ice. a red, sparks amber, golden fire, whose hues conflate of to battle the swirling winds outside, all the magic spirals of pale snow emblazoned with motifs on so intricate, hypnotic, like the hot whirlpool a of sugar coated sloughs. of bubbling embers bitter, that hiss and steam, leaving the treacly ocean, gelid entering the frozen air in many fragrant waves, night mouthwatering, a pleasure to the visual senses of that feast on the defrosted strands of chocolate snow on a glacial nightâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;with baleful squalls, flurries and of ice. Completely defenseless when confronted ice by the heat of a candied maelstrom, inhaled in cautious sips, inhaled minutes later in gulps of breath, the perfect weapon against wintry nights, darkened coals of no more luminosity, diaphanous overcoats, and a mind longing for the eternal bliss treasured in a cup of eddying, melted chocolate.
In a Forest
1 Tear = 1 Dead Critic
Men are Men
Let Us Be Fragile
I Fly Sentient
Found and Kept
S. Charles Park
Lionel Messi’s Crimes Against Humanity Lionel Andrés Messi’s Crimes Against Humanity were tried with the utmost seriousness in the non-African Union sanctioned Court of African Countries where it was unanimously decided he was guilty of all crimes. After meeting for their summit on how to create a better image for their continent, all member nations and their “elected” officials, decided the first step was to a) generate income, and b) eliminate the piles of trash, ubiquitous graffiti, and animalian waste. Targeting five time Ballon d’Or winner Mr. Lionel Messi would be killing two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone as roughly 90% of all graffiti bore his name, and as he had just signed a lucrative contract extension of unknown magnitude the year before. The plan was to make him responsible for the clean-up of all non-lawful uses of his name – i.e., graffiti, which were abundant – having previously “filed” all necessary documents to copyright his moniker the previous year during the (similarly) non-AU led PanAfrican Initiative Against Copyright Infringement (UNPAIACI). Contacting his solicitor, The C.A.C. issued Mr. Messi a writ obligating him to assist C.A.C. countries in cleaning up his name with 100 hours of community service, and 200 trillion Central African Dollars. Furthermore, they were willing to bring forth the legal documents showing his signature and compliance in the copyrighting affair. Contacting Mr. Messi, his solicitors assured him that, en toto, it would cost him roughly 10,000€, a week’s vacation in the tropics, and several photos with children of various African dictators. Although his ‘stock’ couldn’t really get any higher, his solicitors said touring dictator ravaged countries as a UN ambassador couldn’t really hurt. They also assured him, that the C.A.C. had no legal jurisdiction anywhere (even on the soil of some of its member nations), so he had no legal obligation of any kind, and that the filed paperwork petitioning for a copyright on his name was most certainly forged. Being further that he had a literal swimming pool full of money from having just signed a contract extension one year prior – incidentally the very same day he had been filing papers to copyright his name with the C.A.C. – his solicitors assured him that the total monetary cost would be roughly one twentieth of the money he would make from scoring one goal, never mind his actual salary, so the 200 trillion CAD would be easily recouped. His solicitors instructed him, however, on the legality of cleaning up his name and told him, in no uncertain terms, that he would be responsible for
“Leo,” “Lionel,” “Lionel Messi,” “Messi,” and “L. Messi.” But, he was instructed, in no less uncertain terms, that unless the number “10” was written preceding, following, above, below or over any iteration of his name (“Leo,” “Lionel,” “Lionel Messi,” “Messi,” and “L. Messi”), it was not his responsibility. And, that attempting to clean up, showing remorse for, or posing with said numbers could put him in a legally sticky position. Accepting the Court’s decision Mr. Messi visited several African nations where he walked the streets with scrub brush and pail of water and helped to erase his chalked, charcoaled, spray-painted, and permanent markered name, posed for photos with the children of Governmental Officials and other randomly selected, yet no less-deserving peoples, and encouraged children to be active and fit by playing football. After a week of community service, Mr. Messi returned home to Argentina, having cleaned up several thousand iterations of his name, donated several hundred footballs, and posed for umpteen thousand photos. Before leaving, he was sent off to great fanfare, a ceremonial pardoning of his Crimes Against Humanity where the President of the Islamic Republic of the Western Africa (sic) tore up the copyright petition – taking care to point out the “non-facsimiled signature” (his words) Mr. Messi had signed on his petition to copyright his moniker in all C.A.C. nations – and was then asked to sign several authenticity-questionable F.C. Barqelona jerseys. Not to be outdone, four time Ballon d’Or winner Christiano Ronaldo offered his time, money, and photogenic face to the benefit of C.A.C. nations via his solicitors, but was told by the C.A.C., ‘No one gives a fuck about you, Chris.’
On My Girl “You think death has ripped you forever apart.” – Vada Sultenfuss
Around the time of the first hemorrhage my mood ring filled with bees. They slept when I kissed him –– amber honeyed the corners of my tight mouth. Willow leaf-masks and citronella will remind me of wanting to be close enough to analyze the bumps on his crown. The one day in hot green light that I understood flesh reason. Before the bees hatched, before they pounded him and broke his glasses, before my mother died, and before the sex that made me later make the bees.
Open Casket Stiff and blushing, almost fertile, like her American Girl Doll she never let me exhume from its mint condition cardboard box, afraid that I’d depreciate its value for its inheritor. On my last visit she’d splashed lukewarm bourbon into her coffee and said about my pastoral, “So what? You’re running through the apple fields. What’re you running from?” Squished together in the white wicker loveseat we sat silently on the porch like parade watchers, let down by the no one going by.
John Manuel Arias
Lamitrogine 25 mg: it doesn’t do much because you still reminisce about sitting in that high school counselor’s office recently brought back from an apparently vicious blackout—¿what are you? she accuses you clutching that old photograph of Jesus to her withered chest 50 mg: careful not to jump the gun don’t take it too quickly or toxic epidermal necrolysis will be just another demon that takes you by the hand black and charred like that baby blue bird you burned at the stake in a Merlot-red Rolo cup 100 mg: you feel it now in your dreams you don’t die as tenderly in your day dreams he doesn’t look at you as lovingly reality’s there-but-not you don’t mind because your page-white ceiling is so dirty that sponge commands you to scrub it clean for four hours ¡now! 150 mg: mania breaks through unfortunately the dosage isn’t high enough fisting yourself at 2:22 in the morning as you search madly for his face among the others isn’t normal but it feels right you admit to yourself because the pain of putting out lit cigarettes on the dimples of your cheeks is what he craves most 200 mg: you are stable whatever that means and dizzy-spells are all the witchcraft that’s left a melting sun dyes the sky lime-green the same color as the new pill that hollows out your jowls like a marble kouros just a tad so it appears you’re on a new diet and not a death-sentence
or apparently itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not anymore
Nutrition Facts for People I Know 'Authentic' Aunt Kelly Calories: Whatever is burnt at both ends (but not anymore!) Total Fat: Unknown, dieting in progress (what a rude question.) Cholesterol: Heading down (doctor cut a lot of the good food.) Dietary Fiber: Minimal, not even chewing on unlit cigs (you are awfully pushy.) Sugars: The fake sort (you haven't given me a kiss since you got here.) Sodium: Delicious (the taste of seawater, even though I don't swim anymore.) Surgeon General's Promise: Definitely smoke-free, all the cigarettes are gone Concentrated Frustration of Janice Fletcher Serving Size: About 1 hour of monologue texting Servings Per Container: About 13 hours (after date night or when rent is due) Ingredients: red peppers, (don't call me) sugar, salt, garlic, obsession (with her girlfriend's lack of ambition), distilled fantasies Organic Mother Vitamin A: 0% Vitamin B: 0% Calcium: 2%, or what is present in homeopathic medicine, whichever is higher Iron: ~0% (throws hands up and leaves room with little pressure) Ingredients: Organic chicken broth (filtered information, dried organic chicken, stock in online news), organic chicken flavor (expensive sea salt), organic dried plans to call your father, natural Southern hospitality, natural Southern anger (pastoral father, absent mother), organic onion powder, organic garlic powder, organic spices, organic celery seeds, organic time (as long as it is preserved through health) Certified GMO and Vaccine Free Post-Chemo Bobs
Percent Daily Values are based on running into Bobs at supermarkets, on the corner of your block, or on election day. Your daily values might be higher if you sent cards to feel like a good person, or even made a house-call to talk to his wife. She has always been a good neighbor, but your daily value might be changed if you go up to his room ask him how he is doing, or try to joke that he was already bald before. There is a percent chance that you will ask if he feels like a new person now that the worst has past, along with him saying he feels like antifreeze, and scratching his chest through his infamous Hawaiian shirt. Chocolate Chip Self-Portraits Ingredients: Cardboard (recycled board games, degree cases, moving boxes), whale bacon (equal parts guilt and addiction), high fructose corn feelings, artificial family flavor, bird shit.
Scratching the Itch
The staccato stammering of the bass guitar punctuates the flash of strobe lights. Limitless vistas of black and gray smother the crowd in ghoulish poses. Freeze framed in a glow of acidic white. Some stagger; their movements mimic the rigors of death. Others jerk, puppets upon invisible, then randomly clipped, strings. And, as the music grinds to a halt driven by the apocalyptic pace of the Disc Jockey, and the scratching-sound of synthesizers subsides, the trance dancers disperse swallowed by shadow.
Mirage I believe in the distance between the day and the way we see the day. For instance, you can find all the colors of a rainbow in the wing of a fly. Spring continues to blend into the end of winter every year. And those women, with their soft hips, thick lips, still exist and sometimes, still, stand on their toes to kiss my chin. I believe in the distance between the day and the way we see the day. I kept the necklace she left beside my bed.
1. i think about
[butterfly knives &]
i carry a tin case in my pocket
pack it with soil
he tells me to spit a seed i am waiting [for something]
to bloom orange & yellow
devastate it out of me how do you want how do you make me want & i pull him into a darkened doorway tell him
sketch around his mouth
am i a thought experiment i am thinking in thought experiments
i am tying myself in knots & this is violent
let me wreck you
2. [if] a tree falls in a forest & [ ] [if] a tree falls in a forest &
[if] i am a butterfly knife
[then] fold myself into [his left hand] [if] [the hand] is in his pocket [then] [the hand] is [
[if] he points outside with this [absent left hand] [then] two of his fingers loop around my edges [if] i am a butterfly knife [if] he says open
[then] i can be held
[then] feather the air with rigid wings
I Marry Them Young, a shining stone, I rise to muscle, beat and reach Snake my thighs around him, grasp and shatter, line of bone, edge of flesh I marry him, even though he’s angry, even though he drinks He whets his fists. On my arm a black bruise drains to green under my skin Later, when it’s my face, I sneak away, keys in my palm And drive north out of Jersey, across the George Washington Bridge And on to Boston where I hawk papers in the dawn rain But I’m hungry to be held so I tread the water Of another man’s lust, sift its ashes for compassion, turn over my keys Tape shut the container from which my mouth once uttered its sway and preferences I marry him, even though he binds my lungs Even though he blows his own breath into my mouth Nights he drives into the corpse of me. Mornings I tie an apron around my waist Make coffee, watch jays through the kitchen window They cry in summer heat, false hawks tearing at nests of eggs And I’m false, too. I have no heat. I drink shots of vodka, leave half the bottle On the table beside a plate, put a hot meal in the oven on low heat And leave with what I own--a toothbrush, a towel. I take bills and change From the polished top of his dresser, ride the subway to the bus station Homeless women push shopping carts, men hover, hide bottles, lean to me I go north, broke and sober. I marry and marry Each time, I strip myself of history, cloak myself in new fog But the jaw smack of that fist still corners me in kitchens I fall beneath bodies and my own bones crackle in woodstoves I burn like light behind closed eyes and still the scent of dogwood The wrath of Jersey bogs, white moon over ocean, shore birds Shadows and stone and the dream of his body Standing in front of the slammed door, trapping me Window full of moon. My death a line from his hawk’s eyes To my face, his hands to my neck
How I caught a chair and pulled myself up after the blows How I moved slowly, as though he were a coiled snake How I crooned. Pools of moon. How I pulled him to bed, to sleep How I crept to the car and crept through the years Under stars shining like knives of cut light over stone
Gen Del Raye
World Cup at the Tierra Nazca in Kobe, Japan The things I remember, even now. Late June in Dortmund with 60,000 people in the stands, the cameras going off like fireworks behind the bleachers and in Kobe, the three of us, chugging tequila to stay awake. 5AM in a Peruvian bar downtown, Japan vs. Brazil, World Cup 2006: Brazil already through to the next round and Japan already out, a meaningless game, nothing on the line. It was the summer before college and we didn’t want to go, not to college nor home, which we’d left 23 hours ago. We were still going strong, hopping from bar to closing bar until this was the only place left, just us and the barman who’d been up all night stringing Brazilian flags across the walls. We were rooting for Japan but it was all right because we wished we were rooting for Brazil and we told him so, told him we were sick of hoping for a miracle, had been sick for days, and now were just hoping for a quiet defeat. Just one or two goals, we told him. Please God, only one or two goals. Outside, we could hear the first cars revving up their engines, sliding through the gray haze of empty one-way streets. We could hear the crows swooping toward the ground, the hard scrabble of their nails against the sides of metal dumpsters. Why do I remember, even years later, the round acrylic-topped tables and the three of us trying hard to pretend we were less drunk than we really were, our necks twisted toward the small TV with the antennae that looked like a round head with two horns, holding our eyelids open so we could watch another defeat in a long string of them with each more predictable than the last? And around the table the three of us glancing sideways from time to time at each other’s faces as if to check, as if to keep track of how soon we would be too far apart to see them again. Kenji going to Germany any day now and Yusuke to Tokyo at the end of July and me in September, the last to leave, headed to California, taking the bus out of Kobe so I could show up a week late for class. This is how it is—the taste of the tequila already stale, the barman nodding off behind the counter on a morning that could have been any morning, any one of the goodbyes we rehearsed that summer so that by the time we were finally leaving we didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to stop it from feeling like we were walking off the stage in a play we’d acted for years. That last goodbye in a little park we’d never been to behind the
subway station— there’d been crows there too and a few cockroaches that scuttled out from beneath a concrete bench before Yusuke turned to me and said—So long, see you whenever—and that was all. Even still, my memory going back to that time in the bar and the television in a whisper broken up by static as if it too couldn't believe: Inamoto to Santos, Santos to Tamada and Tamada takes the shot… The silence. I know there must have been noise, there must have been something else but all there is in my memory is images for a long time in the grey light and then slowly, quiet at first, getting louder like an echo— Kenji half-standing, half-crouched over the table, one fist pressing down on each of our shoulders and the barman with a hand reaching out to the wall. Holy shit, says Yusuke. Holy shit would you look at that, just look at that, just look…
Grandfather Clock Ordained in her hallway to dispose of time. Gravity treads invisible marks, a corridor, white travertine floors, Versailles - a secret kept. Her morning ceremony: Wind clockwise your brass weights. Give precision to your timed impulses. Clutch cancer-free dumbbells. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget to breathe. To the kitchen and back and back again. Her microscopic muscle tears, Your chimes told her she was still alive. No Magpies or hanging Meyers, the democratic honeybee moves on. A butterfly rubs his wings. Can you hear? I envy youYour chimes kept her alive.
The Afterlife of Ideas If we have names, given by stars, neighbours, passports, plastic cards there isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t so much more to give, to take, but silence, but company of strangers. If we have homes, crests of rose-harp and half-sarcastic maple, cliff and burren shorn of all but colonial signpost to mark, what need we ferryboats? If we have titles, embossments made in tusk towers to choose between a kindly construction of worthless parchment transformation, squeegee wash dish platters pushed, are not we emboldened by them? If we have capitals, red brick lake places in hearty cheer, celebration of frontiers unconquered, empires deceased, imagined, decayed, are ever-fleeting these joys as passing stations, professorial notions? If we have moments, tenderness by Turkish candlelight, the switching magnetics of traffic din symphony, couch-bound war cries for struggles ever-far afield, what use is there in lifetimes? And if we have long evenings, spent in tradition revival of intellects, lovers beyond ourselves
let them last, echo.
Conscription the green fly swatter despairing prays for free will
Editor’s Note #? If I had something to say, this would be the place to say it.
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, with all proceeds going to charity. We look to feature the best poetry and flash fiction from new, emerging, and veteran writers. 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 Melinda Giordano- “Dried Banana”
Departure If we could say goodbye in a hundred languages, we’d still probably settle for saying it in just one. Until next time.
Copyright 2016 All rights of the material within belong to the authors.