April prompt: synthesis

“The action of perceiving and thought from cause to effect, or from laws or principles to their consequences,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. We invite you to create work based around cause and effect, law and order, action and reaction – synthesis in ideas, in politics, in friendships and relationships, in actions and thought, or in anything else. Let’s talk about the mundane, the revelatory, and the process of everything in between.

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1

Written by Tanner Colmer

 

Cause and Effect is meaningless to the general American. 
We care not for what is done or how it’s done, only the end product.
Example: hundreds of companies abuse child labor laws to produce cheap materials.
Children starve, they die, they’re replaced.
Something must be done! Something has to be done!
But i'll be damned if I have to spend an extra buck fifty on my Wal-mart bed linens.
Who cares?
This applies to everything.
Law:
Sell cheap guns in Black communities so they can tear each other apart.
Make sure the police are late to any calls in this zip code.
As long as it keeps the threat contained.
Art:
John Doe spent years mixing paint to come up with this one unique shade of red.
He spent another year covering a canvas with a beautiful composition using said paint.
It portrays his wife who’s been missing for the same amount of years it took to create this piece.
From the back: “looks like a naked lady! $20,000!”
Sold.
Human interaction:
“Could you spare some change?”
“As long as it stops this conversation.”
We've grown to like things. Things give us a sense of value.
“I’m successful because I have a house with a walk in closet and eighteen pairs of shoes.”
“I’m important because I have more cars than garage space.”
“I’m special because I won the most trophies.”
No appreciation for the sacrifice it took to manufacture our blood diamond rings or child porn.

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Become

Created by Jack Nikolaidis

 

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I was Drunk, He was Not

Written by Maya Elrose

 

We were in a bathroom stall, I was drunk

I didn't know who he was

I was just trying to use the bathroom

His lips pressed against my face

It felt like I was getting mauled by a bear, but with lips and tongue instead of claws

I did not ask for this.

I did not want this.

I was only trying to use the bathroom.

If you were wondering I had been drinking.

My friend had given me the fireball after she had hosted someone on that couch surf website, It was free

I remember feeling like a body

I was a toy that could be manipulated

In that moment I lost a part of myself

He didn’t even know my name

I didn’t even know his name

He took it from me, that piece of myself

He still has that piece.

It has never been returned.

I sit back in a different bathroom stall, petrified.

Hoping that I will be okay

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3 Cavan Rd. Singapore

Created by Mike Bremmer

 

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The Hypercritical Oath of the Hypocritical Oaf

Written by Morgan Satterlee

 

There is a disconnect.

We think in different increments now.

Time was not always marked by generations, it is an invention.

It is irrelevant.

It is everything.

It is a brave new world.......

 

What we know is at odds with what we do.

We are, after all, creatures of habit.

Our intents and actions do not always reflect one another as well as our masks

Deflect and condense light.

These warring virtues form a string of contradictions along our circulatory systems that,

If pulled,

Will unravel our beings. 

My friends and I have grown up confused.

We make a sport out of unraveling ourselves and each other.

Creatures of habit,

Birds of a feather.

 

All of my favorite people contradict:

We are genius fools,

Lazy creatives.

We're all self-aware hypocrites,

Prodding each other to stay the course,

Which we have strayed so far from ourselves.

I am no exception.

I lecture my friends about changing their ways while I have a firm foothold dug into my grave.

We know we fuck up.

We know what to do to stop fucking up.

We don't do enough.

Instead, we chase our poison tails.

And act like runaway trains when we collide and bleed out over the great plains.

 

I believe this and that but I don't apply much of what I think or say.

I don't believe in my heart but it works harder to keep me alive than I do,

Sending blood to the brain that I beat and batter and fry over and over again.

I like my grey matter rare (bloody) but also fried,

Yet I can't have it both ways,

So I'll just sit still and lament that for more days than you can count on eight hands.

But that's just marking time

Using numbers,

Expressed with letters.

All arbitrary,

All irrelevant.

 

All everything.

All at once. 

 

Trying to think everything all at once

While doing as little as possible.

Running in circles through well worn territory,

Caught in loops,

Infinite feedback.

Patterns of thinking.......

 

The mind is no place to live, it is a place to escape to, 

And from, it turns out. 

It is a lot of work convincing myself that simply identifying my problems over and over again is the process of improvement

When it is only the first step.

Repeating the first step ad infinitum is tantamount to a full-stop,

It only makes me a repeat offender.

 

I'm doing alright.

I'm fucking up.

I have time to fuck up.

When am I going to stop?

I have time, I'm still young.

I have to grow up.

I've come so far.

Where am I going?

I'm confident in what I want to do.

But I don't do it.

I have amazing ideas!

Too much thinking, not enough acting.

Gonna make a plan someday.

What good is that without resolve? 

I want to create, I do create, I will create.

 

All the warring parts of my conscience can agree on that much. Maybe if I could wrangle them together and force them to harmonize then I can make sand castles when I set out to make sand castles instead of a mountain,

A moat,

A spire, 

A bridge,

Before my resolve expires and I decide to destroy my work before it is realized.

 

Creatures of habit, we.

My friends and I.

Wake up tomorrow and it feels like yesterday,

Because it's all going to happen again.

And again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again,

Until you start believing in the capabilities of your capillaries, your physical organic form, that which makes you breathe and bleed and function,

Instead of relying on your blurry resolution.

Someday soon I'll force myself to take my own advice and

Stop being a hypocrite.......

 

But for now, I am a creature of habit,

So I will only end up blowing myself

Off.

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Design04

Created by Elise Bang

 

Medium: Paper collage

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The Smell of Perfume

Written by Jack McCoy

 

“He looked past me, but could not stare straight. He was blond, blue-eyed, and always wore a German soccer hat. He knew where he stood and found it to be smarter to remain silent than speak his mind. He always thought he would get in trouble. If he was said to have any defects, it would be the birthmark in the shape of a lollipop on his upper-right shoulder and his glasses. They were not thick, but they were noticeable. He occasionally shook, specifically his left hand when he took a drag of a cigarette (another problem for many). Tiny ruptures in his fingers which he could never understand. His positive qualities were numerous, the soft-yet-determined manner in which he spoke, his intelligent choice of words, never coming across as pretentious as those who heard him knew his honesty, and many people thought he was quite attractive. The last time I saw him he flashed me the grin I knew made people fall in love with him.

 

"His name is- was? It’s been so long, to speak of him I find myself unable to be certain whether or not he is even still alive; he was the risk-taking sort, going on crazy excursions, sometimes across the globe; he was also a serious drinker, which could have caused some serious liver issues, but let’s not talk about that- sorry, his name was Hans Morgana. Hans Morgana. To say it again, it feels so illusory, as I know he’s not here, even if he’s somewhere. I suppose we’re all somewhere, and I don’t know how important it is that we-”

 

“I’m sorry, we’re done today,” he said to me. I smirk a sad smirk and stand. I wear black jeans and a red undershirt, blue hawaiian shirt over it. I don’t think he said more than those five words other than at the beginning, “Take a seat,” that’s what he said.

 

I brush off my knees. I don’t know why. They’re clean I think. I walk out of the room. I see the hall, burnt orange wallpaper and paintings of deep seas and vast voids are next to each teal door. I walk down. Step by step my shoes squeak. They have done this the past two weeks and I don’t know why. I walk out into the lobby area. There is a receptionist with curly hair and purple nails. Her name is Maura. There are two people sitting, waiting. One reads TIME, the other is on her phone.

 

He comes out and says, “Michael Quandry,” and the guy reading the magazine, apparently Michael, stands and walks towards him.

 

I don’t want to be in this room so I exit. I hate air conditioning. Sometimes I think it’s a governmental plot to brainwash me by emitting toxins or squids that ingest my emotions, or something along those lines, but I know that’s crazy so I keep it to myself. Outside I feel immediately oppressed so I pop a xanax. There are skyscrapers above me. The Orange Line screeches and liquid from it drops in front of me. I can see the reflection of the Chase Building in the glass above me and past the rails. I twitch my lips.

 

I walk down the street and fidget. I pass an old man smoking a cigarette and get instantaneous cravings. I haven’t had one in seven months, but I still find it hard to be downtown. I can breathe better and I’m getting used to smelling again. Hans always told me not having smell was a positive trait so the bile of the world would remain alien. Some people replied to him, “But you’ll die,” and he always smiled, flashing those teeth, saying, “Yes.”


I walk down Randolph towards State. I turn left on it. There are so many goddamn people. Each one of them stares at me as I pass them, I know it. I see the Chicago Theatre and stand under it. It makes me so comfortable, the lights. I didn’t see who is performing tonight but I don’t care because I will never go inside. I like exteriors, they feel so natural, no matter how industrial. I stare at a lady pushing her children in a stroller. I follow her intently with my eyes until a man with a cardigan walks from the opposite direction. My eyes make the same cross with a young woman with a blue velvet dress. She has blues eyes and I only know this because she’s looking at me. She stops in front of me, shakes her head, and walks away.

 

Maybe I should stop staring.

 

I walk back towards Randolph and turn left down it. I walk down towards Dearborn. I could walk either way and see so many things I’ve seen before, and I enjoy repetition, but the sun is glaring at me so I suppose I must retreat to my cave. I walk towards Lake and enter the Clark/Lake station.

 

I stand on the platform. Many people are around. I hear two men behind me talk about the merits of modern music. One is in his sixties, I expect, and the other in his late forties, early fifties. The older one talks of Stevie Wonder and asks him if he has ever heard of a xylophone. The man says, “A xylophone? One of those bar fuckers?” The older man shakes his head. I can’t hear the rest of the conversation as the train comes and it is quite loud. The doors open.

 

I enter the train. It’s less packed than I’d expect for three p.m. so I sit down in the third row. There is an empty seat to my right. I hope no one sits on it. At Grand my hopes are diminished. A woman with a scarf and jean jacket with pins who also wears red heels and red lipstick sits down next to me and my nose erupts. I am overwhelmed. She looks at me and stands up and moves. Her perfume was very strong. I am no one to talk, as I’m certain I smell like shit, that must be why she moved away, I’m certain of it, goddamn it’s still in my nose I need-

 

Chicago blue and I’m off. I see Big Shoulder Coffee and a million equality stickers littered everywhere and a smoker standing next to a bike with an extremely large seat, far, far above the top wheel. I wonder how anyone could ride it.

 

“Can I bum a cigarette?” I ask. He hands me one. Parliament. I ask for a light and he lights me. I am extremely distressed and know this is petty. I thank him. I walk away and keep smoking it. I walk towards the downtown. I plan to bum a cigarette off of every person who walks by.

 

I don’t know why.

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Room Song

Written and Performed by Millie Nabil

Footage from Nabil Auoad and Malhaar Gupte

Directed and Edited by Justin Eulalio

 

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The Hypercritical Oath of the Hypocritical Oaf, Part 2

Written by Morgan Satterlee

 

Not gonna burn up, not gonna burn out.

Think I'll do some work.

Yes it's the most direct way to end this feeling, this stagnant sensation.

Going to blast my way out of this hell

Just like all my heroes,

Like I want to do so often,

Disregard the rules I see as 

So arbitrary.

Don't take shit,

Dish it out.

Whatever the medium:

Words,

Images,

Movement,

Sounds....

Shoot it out.

Let it rupture from your being, 

It must come from within.

All my outlaw idols,

Whose names and dates I know by heart 

Before I learned to forget everything 

And too many friends to name,

Whose numbers I can't recall since I've learned to forget it all.

They push me forward,

Sometimes into a ravine,

Other times down a catwalk.

In any case,

I am in motion.

 

Which is preferable to 

Paralysis.

Joints locked in place with rust

And heavy bones of stone.

Instead I aim for the stars,

And no matter where I end up

My intentions are true.

Ultimately I have done something

And I hope it was good.

If it is not

I'll try again and again and again still,

Until I am fulfilled,

Finally,

At long last....

 

The daring and innovative art

My brave companions create

Compels me to further hone my own

Artistic attitude.

I do sincerely hope we keep on creating.

It is in our blood.

We would be fools to deny the blood

That courses through us.

Sent from the heart

To our brains.

It is all we know, 

So at least we all know something.

And it is at least something important,

Powerful, meaningful,

And truly 

Unstoppable.

And we will not stop

Fucking up (we are creatures of habit),

Improving (those habits can change),

Working (nothing changes without it),

Crying (an unavoidable side-effect of living),

Accomplishing (an unavoidable result of the above),

Panicking (when the energy is too much too confusing incomprehensible),

Realizing (there is always time to breathe),

Inventing (pushing out past our boundaries),

Abusing (we are, after all, creatures of habit),

Recovering (time changes all things),

Reassuring (enjoying all the moments in between),

Feeding (each other ideas and inspiration),

Feasting (on all of our various compulsions),

Discovering (you learn something new every day, even on the last day),

 

Living,

Dying,

Creating--

 

Everything

All at once

 

Until we die

And can rest,

Finally,

At long last....

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Thanks to all those who submitted for our April prompt! Take a look at our May prompt, Restoration. Send any questions and submissions to shreddedmag@gmail.com by Saturday, April 29th.