1. You’re an artist—you’re allowed to objectify me.
    Jen (jayarrarr)
  2. Tell Me Something

    Because we’ll be alright;
    we’ll still be here. Maybe there
    isn’t much on our side —
    but our side is still ours,
    and our hands tell the story.

    Oh, how we story, us two
    become one like pronouns
    and vowel sounds adapt
    over time and tongue. Precious things
    we grasp with trembling tendons

    and press to petering palms. Hands
    like mirrors reflecting all we’ve found
    too late and too far to swell
    to immediate use. We work
    with what we have, we mold comfort

    out of carnage; carve singular from two
    distant — distinct and variable
    as branches we twine
    together. We bask
    in warmth of mutual dreams

    and dreams of dreams, knowing
    no matter what, we have
    each other. Our hands will tell
    the story. We have us. We’ll be
    alright. We’ll still be here.

    And we’re something.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  3. So Last Season

    The bright ones had to go. All the gaudy near-neon throws (both pillows and blankets, things meant to be tossed) — the hot pink and electric green, the blinding-bright yellows and oranges that “went together” because some moribund, cubicle-dwelling corporate flunky had decided they should — they had to go. With the innocent audacity of a three-year-old who believes things have reasons and it’s possible to know them all, I asked why.

    They’re summer, was the manager’s reply. I asked why again, because it was July, and she still hadn’t answered my question. She worked with practiced efficiency, slicing the pillows apart to bleed out their bleached-white plastic floss stuffing in the bottom of the dumpster. A holocaust of late-20th century suburban supply in excess of demand. No one, it seemed, wanted the porches of their gated subdivisions to look like children’s playhouses or Caribbean all-inclusive singles resorts. These innocent, over-dyed fabrics were the victims of some dusty MBA’s hubris. But why are we destroying them, that’s what I want to know.

    Something about bottom lines. Something about things having to be unusable before they can be dumpstered. Something about it being illegal to take things from dumpsters, because in this blighted landscape corporations claim ownership and control over things even after they’ve thrown them away. Something about if you don’t buy them from us you can’t have them at all. I thought about a pimp who kills a girl if she dares try to leave him. People like that exist in the world. I stopped asking questions.

    Later that night, while I was drinking however much it would take for me to stop caring, a woman ambled across the store’s back lot, evading the lights with motion sensors. She worked with practiced efficiency, scrounging through the dumpster for anything that could be of use. Then, all at once, she threw up her hands, announcing to no one her joy at discovering the mound of thick, bright fabric. She crammed as much as she could into a black garbage bag she’d liberated from somewhere else. A few weeks later, the fabric had been cut apart, washed, and re-sewn into adorable patchwork dresses her 5-year-old twins wore on their first day of kindergarten.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  4. Denouement

    I cannot write a poem for you, and yet
    I’ve written dozens of drafts in vain
    attempt to capture your form,
    to distill your essence
    with efficiency and eloquence.

    If I had every word
    in every language, every song
    in every tongue, I feel
    they’d all fall short somehow
    when tasked to describe

    the pulse of dew on a petal,
    or the rasp of tongue
    across skin. Where I, with
    shortened breath would beg
    forgiveness for muted memory

    held forth as shattered glass —
    a running pain-cold remnant
    piercing soft and fluid
    down the center of marble stairs.
    How I’ve never felt

    so together; how I’ve never been
    more alone.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  5. Music

    You can tell a lot about someone by the type of music they listen to (not always.) Hit shuffle on your ipod/phone/itunes/media player and write down the first 20 songs. Then pass this on to 10 people. If you want to do this, consider yourself tagged.

    One rule: no skipping (tagged by several people; told to do it by supersatellite)

    1. Back in Black — AC/DC
    2. Against the Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
    3. Encore — Jay-Z + DJ Dangermouse (The Grey Album)
    4. The Rooster — Outkast
    5. Know — Nick Drake
    6. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye — Ella Fitzgerald
    7. Burger Queen — Placebo
    8. I Ain’t Mad at Cha — 2Pac
    9. Don’t Tread on Me — 311
    10. Call it a Day — The Raconteurs
    11. Back in Baby’s Arms — Patsy Cline
    12. Barely Legal — The Strokes
    13. Trip Like I Do — Crystal Method
    14. Hi Friend! — Deadmau5
    15. Fourth World War — Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
    16. Monkey — Bush
    17. Burn My Shadow — UNKLE
    18. Your Protector — Fleet Foxes
    19. Golden Brown — Stranglers
    20. Young Lust — Pink Floyd
  6. jayarrarr:


    “You must know you’ve become a part of others as well, who you’ve not even met.”

    This is a montage of my friend Jen.  Because some words stick.  

    Isn’t she lovely?

    My official personal photographer, y’all.

    Earlier today, the lovely Kate (kategclef) tagged me in that thing going around that’s something like photos of you that make you happy or some such. I’m cheating, perhaps. But all of these are pictures of me, and all of them make me happy, even though I don’t have technicolor hair in any of them.

  7. In other news, evidently The Daily Beast has some trouble figuring out the difference between sadism and masochism. And you thought your issues with affect and effect were bad.

    In other news, evidently The Daily Beast has some trouble figuring out the difference between sadism and masochism

    And you thought your issues with affect and effect were bad.

  8. The Privileged Few

    As a journalist, she fell in love with the people — with their culture, their life, and their struggle. Her ground-breaking reports brought accolades, awards, and offers of more — more money, more exposure, more time, more resources.

    She turned down all those offers save one. The long-term, low-impact documentary project aimed to show the real life of families in the area. She donated her entire personal income to a verified charity that worked with the people to improve their situation. For two years, she lived with a family in the region. Her unprecedented access allowed her to share their culture, their life, and their struggle. She found herself attracted to activism; she found herself empathizing with even the most desperate and violent attempts to bring attention and relief to this cause, and to the plight of these people she held so dear.

    Living with them, running with them breathless after one had committed some random act of vandalism or another had lashed out in frustration or anger, she’d never felt more real, more honest, more alive. She grew to hate all the people and circumstances that forced these vibrant people to suffer as they did — she couldn’t help it. She felt as if their pain was her pain, as if their struggle was her struggle.

    Late one night, as the calendar page turned on her two-year stay, she sat in near darkness talking to the teenaged son of the family who had welcomed her into their home. He asked her why she’d decided to do it, and she did her best to explain. His heavy nod contained wisdom and maturity beyond his years — characteristics learned by osmosis when actual survival has always been a way of life.

    And then he asked her why.

    She began an enthusiastic ramble about her passion for the people, for their culture, their life, and their struggle — but something in his eyes made her pause. When she stopped, he asked again: Why.

    “To understand,” she said.

    “No,” he said. “You will never understand. You can go home. You will go home. My home is here.”

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  9. Vienna

    Her name was Vienna. Yes, her real name. Yes, like the city. No, neither of her parents were from there, nor were either of them Austrian. As far as either of them knew, none of their ancestors were Austrian. It wasn’t like that. When she was born — shockingly small and dangerously premature — her parents wished to connect her with something large and strong and old. They believed that to name something was to define it, and that if they gave her the name of something large and strong and old, their small and weak and early daughter would grow to fit it. They would name her after a city. A city with history, resilience, and permanence.

    Plenty of contemporary parents name their children after cities for as many reasons as there are contemporary parents who name their children after cities. Her parents quickly struck cities like London and Paris off their mental lists — too common, too popular. They had refined tastes that matched their educated sophistication and their well-traveled ennui. The last thing they needed was some random stranger assuming they’d named their daughter after some stupid celebrity (or some stupid celebrity’s child).

    Vienna fit all criteria. With well over a million inhabitants, it was large. With continuous habitation from 500 B.C. (although of course it wasn’t always inhabited by the same people, and of course it wasn’t always called Vienna), it was old. As a city renowned for its culture, innovation, and livability, it certainly was strong as well.

    Vienna, the city, is also known as the “City of Dreams.” Vienna, the child, also had dreams. Mostly they centered around not living in a small town in Ohio where nothing of any consequence ever happened, not being forced to participate in family events when she would rather read, and not being named Vienna.

    She lived up to her name the day she discarded it.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  10. Deadline Extended: Submit Your Stuff


    Hey y’all!

    So here’s the deal. Your valiant and esteemed Editor-in-Chief, Matt Freeman (raisethecurve), has been pulled away (kicking and screaming, I assure you) to attend to a crisis, so this lovely publication has been left in my hands. Naturally, I’m going to do what I normally do in situations like this — procrastinate. For this reason, The deadline for submissions to the next issue of A Literation is being extended an entire week, until July 28. Hopefully by that time Matt will have taken care of what he needs to take care of, things can continue to operate normally, and I will have successfully avoided doing stuff he’s supposed to do.

    Here’s what I want you to do: SUBMIT. Keep in mind our themes are not prompts and they’re not dictates — they’re intentionally left broad so that you can interpret them however your fantastic creative mind sees fit. Poets, writers, artists: there is absolutely no valid reason for you not to submit. There’s no fee to submit — all you have to do is click a couple things. If your submission isn’t accepted, you just post it on Tumblr like you would’ve done anyway. If it is accepted, then you’re published. You can lord it over all your friends (and even better, all your enemies) how successful and published you are.

    Also, I’ll let you in on a little secret: our editors have no quotas. That’s right — we don’t tell our editors to pick the top five, or the top ten, or whatever. Each editor reads the submissions and writes down the corresponding number to every single piece that editor believes is publishable. Every piece that gets the thumbs-up from two out of three editors appears in the issue. So technically, if we had 100 poems that 2/3 of the poetry editors thought should be published? They would be published. Same goes for prose and visual arts. You’re not competing against each other — you’re only competing against yourself.

    Honestly, if you don’t submit, I’ll hunt you down and cut your fingers off. Sorry, that was a lie. I don’t believe in violence, and even if I did, I don’t want you to submit only because you value your fingers. I want you to submit because you value your art. I mean, I bought you an extra week. It’s the least you could do. Okay? Okay.

    Love you; mean it —

    Founder, A Literation