Pacifica Issue 6 Cover Art Preview

Issue 01

Issue 06


Priscilla Long

The Color Orange

Jay McAleer


Ryan Napier

Stomach and Heart


Kayla Rae Candrilli

Ghost Story

Nathan Wade Carter

Lake But Not Lake

Dennis Caswell

My Spirit Animal

Dan Haney

Ars Poetica

David Hargreaves

What We All Wanted

J.W. Marshall

In A Bowl

Julia Anna Morrison


Elisabeth Murawski

Bonsai Lovers

Noelle O’Reilly

Honey Lumper

Catherine Pond

University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

Captain’s Desk

Look and Leap Contest Winners

Barbara Harroun

Death’s Fabulous Remains

Kevin McLellan



Andrew Imanaka



Blair Hurley

I’ve inherited a notebook from my great-grandmother. It’s full of loose-tucked notes, scribbled on scraps and receipts. My great-grandmother was a writer; she wrote a book for children about growing up on the prairie, and a column for a women’s magazine about being a Kansan transplant in New York. My grandmother has kept this journal for me because I am the next writer in the family. It’s full of half-formed thoughts: a description of a brush fire in August, a sketch of trees moving in the wind. The dark tornado cellar gets a few notes. I try to picture her down there, breathing in the cave-like quiet with her family. The great flat wind-blasted earth above them, a landscape I’ve never seen, strange as the moon. The fear of that waiting space, of burying yourself in a tomb just to stay alive in a hostile time and place.

In one note she writes of riding home in the buggy with her parents during a lightning storm. When thunder rolls above their heads, her father yells to her mother to get out of her metal hoopskirts. She strips as fast as she can. They ride home with the sky threatening. I picture lightning jumping up into her clothes.

My great-grandmother wrote a second book about her life, a sequel to her childhood memoir. My mother and grandmother found it when they were going through her papers. It was in a sealed envelope with a note attached: BURN THIS MS. DO NOT READ.

They obeyed. I want to reach my fingers back through time to that moment and steal the book away from these obedient daughters. I want to know what my great-grandmother thought wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t born yet when she died, and now her notebook is mine, all the fragments of her life that she cared to keep. They’re just like the pieces I use to assemble my stories. I tell myself, I would not burn that book. I would read it. I tell myself, her thoughts are like people huddled in tornado cellars, afraid to come out.




Quenton Baker

     Some [stars] are there but some burned out
     ten thousand years ago…You see memories.

               -Anne Carson

We built gods
     real slick-smooth
big god-looks
     on that stage
big god-breath
     big god-sweat
the bass pumped
     like priest-shrieks
like pure ghost
     had climbed up
in church hat
     in blue dress
the pews full
     but none sat
in god’s house
     the fake dark
the track lights
     the sound man
he’s drunk but
     we’re gods
we built us
     this big sound
this black shit
     the trunk-thump
of raw truth
     we built us
we bang drums
     we sing loud
we’re break beats
     we’re hands up!
the whole crowd
     is white-faced
but who cares
     you paid ten
but so what
     your head nods
for my beats
     your arms up
for my words
     your drunk dap
for my fist
     your drunk lips
for my lips
     your scrunched fives
for my wax
     your drunk love
in drunk eyes
     for my swag
for my steez
     that I know
is dead light.


The Waiting Dream


Mark J. Mitchell

Enslaved by circumstances, to wait, without vanity, uncalculating and available, for the whim of the marketplace, to wait, without pleasure, for routine or for chance.

—Joyce Mansour, “Practical Advice for Waiting”
(Translated by Myrna Bell Rochester)

The train crouches like a gun.
Anachronistic steam from air brakes
frosts parallel gray rails.
Above—the traditional dusty glass,
thick air rising from a line
of the frightened humans waiting here.

On the platform, a desk. You hear
wheezing lungs—an old gun
squeezing a bullet into the chamber. The line
is frozen—a glacier—it breaks
like an icicle, like gray glass
overhead when rain falls like steel rails

in winter. Looking down, you see one rail
is crooked, twisted, and over here,
a spike’s rusting. There’s a fine dust of glass
covering cinders, dark and bright as gun-
powder. Even you know the brakes
will fail. You shuffle along with the line:

One step and stop. Those blue lines
on that page on the desk are trails
of unreadable names with no breaks
between consonants. They mean nothing here—
A broken alphabet of notches on a gun.
Stand up straight and focus on the split glass

of your bifocals. Don’t think about the last glass
of wine you’ll ever know or the hairline
fracture in your knee. She didn’t fire the gun
on purpose. Behind you someone starts to rail
against injustice—as if anyone could hear.
Others laugh, loud and sharp as ungreased brakes.

An order is given. Movement. Try not to break
into a sweat or tears: A perfect glass
chess piece moving from there to here
under a cold hand that understand this line
of attack. Walk straight until the rails—
cool and blue as the barrel of a gun—

split you into a new line. The kiss of air brakes.
A dull glare from the rails. All that broken glass.
A gun firing a shot you’ll never hear.