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Issue 01

Issue 07

CONTENTS
Prose

Nick Greer

[ Memories ]

Blair Hurley

Hoops

Amy Lam

Ma Never Wore Nail Polish

Stephen Langlois

Our Boyfriends

Poetry

Kelli Allen

Walking through the morning

Quenton Baker

Transient

Sarah Helen Bates

Pompei

Jennifer Jackson Berry

My Father’s Dying in Emojis

Brian Cooney

Ars Poetica

Maggie MK Hess

Prayer

America

Sierra Jacob

Environmental Elegy

Tyler Kline

The kind of day

James Fujinami Moore

notes after sex

Sarah Kathryn Moore

Vulnicura

Kevin Rabas

Praise Band Drums

John Sibley Williams

[what comes before and

K.L. Yuen

XVII.

Creative Nonfiction Contest Winner

Martha Clarkson

Long Shot

Art

Ira Joel Haber

Seashell Collages

Rachel Rose Ulgado

Affinities From The Furthest Infinities

Cover Art

Rachel Rose Ulgado

Guillotine

by

Kaj Tanaka

Reading fiction submissions for the online literary magazine where I am an assistant editor, it all feels so hopeless. I’m the guy who does the second reading of our submissions—the stories our volunteer readers have already rejected. My job is to catch anything that slipped through the cracks, hidden gems that our fiction readers, in their haste, inexperience or just by an accident of bad taste, rejected foolishly. This is rare. Mostly our readers do an excellent job, so my second reading is mainly ceremonial. It is part of our duty to honor the submitted work with two readings— it’s the least we can do since we don’t pay our writers. I also volunteer for hospice, and I find that my second reading is often similar to sitting vigil with a dying person. The outcome is a foregone conclusion, but it is still a privilege to be there at that moment of desolation, which is shared, even though only one of us must die. And so if the story is ultimately “not for us,” as it is with almost all of them, I’m the guy who sends those rejection letters. They are anonymous form letters stored in our submission manager. I just select which one we send. The wording changes depending on how much we liked the rejected story. The stories I look at, no one liked, and so I usually use our “blunt response” template.

It takes a toll on me, being the instrument of rejection, while at the same time my own stories are making the rounds of rejection at other magazines with other assistant editors and other volunteer readers. The hardest thing is rejecting stories with compelling cover letters—stories by soldiers abroad, single parents, teenagers, social workers, the incarcerated—people with hearts and souls and shadows and thin skin; their aspirations earnestly bleeding through every syllable of their introductions. Most of the editors I know don’t seem to let this kind of thing affect them, and indeed, I don’t either—I do my job, I send the letters, I try not to become too emotional about it. Lots of my friends tell me they don’t even read the cover letters—they say it, almost bragging, as if their reads are purer and cleaner as a result of staying emotionally detached from the personhood of the writer. This may be sound thinking, but, truthfully, the cover letters are my favorite part of the job—because, while the stories rarely break my heart, the cover letters routinely do. And I hate having my heart broken, but I also love having my heart broken. It is why I read, and it is why I write.

Continue Reading . . .

Apr-25-2016

Fight

by

Mercedes Lawry

Played out on a green field, square,
or roughly so, the intersection of two boys,
one and the other in conflict, tempers abraded.

Was he wronged, this one, or caught in slant perception?
Was he insulted, that one, at such ruinous assumption?
The roil of blood was quick, accelerated hearts.

As under the blue sky with stray clouds, the boys
laid hands upon each other and the force against flesh
incited more. The twist of limbs became full focus.

Did the boys shed some semblance of self,
distill to whatever propelled the species,
descent or revelation, inflicting violence

that sleeps in us, deep or shallow, smothered
or encouraged? What it might take to strike,
a momentary thought, a sorrow, a slice of despair

when action breeds injustice, or knocks us off center.
It’s not survival here in this field, grasses ticking.
Is there room enough to judge? Is the darkness
less or more? Are we the darkness?

Apr-21-2016

after Geoffrey Farmer at the Vancouver Art Gallery

I wanted to tell her how         she’d said, one blue canine
stupid she looked, but       buzzing bright in her
there wasn’t enough time.     mouth. So bright when
The light bulbs of her teeth     she’s happy, it nearly
switched on, switched off.     bursts. He sighs into the
They didn’t even match.        floral wallpaper.
Blue, yellow.
                   How do I put her in my mouth
There wasn’t time. Got hit      and take her back to him?
by a truck. Her groceries      I’d suck her into my lungs,
rolled under—a head of       exhale her into his. Mouth
lettuce, a flattened banana.     to mouth reincarnation.
Glass pulverized to sand.
                  Little old lady of the
The Tuareg wear blue        sequined ballet flats. With
robes that dye their skin;     the blue and yellow light
they navigate the desert by    bulb teeth. Who shook her
the stars. How will she        head at Friday night
come back again? Is he         museum cleavage. Who
lonesome tonight?         could not get the pears.
                  Whose husband sits
She never got the pears       sighing in the wallpapered
and never could tell him     kitchen, hands warming
why. He’s sitting in their      between his knees, her
floral-papered kitchen,        cathedral tinkling as the
wrinkled hands warming     clock clicks.
between his knees, sighing
as the clock clicks with      Shall I come back again?
dull insistence.            Why did I ever want to tell
                  her how stupid she looked?
Poor lady’s under a truck,      A screw loose in her tooth
can’t navigate by the stars.     socket. A burned out bulb.
She had wind chimes by     Had I distracted her? How
her kitchen window,        do I fit this ghost in my
dangling from the fire       mouth? This my last
escape. My cathedral,        thought at a time like that.

Mar-23-2016