Shyla Shehan is an analytical Virgo who holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska. She is an editor for The Good Life Review and lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband, children, and four wily cats. Her full bio and published work are available at shylashehan.com.
Sunday Morning Traditions
Don’t think too much
about the amount of coffee
I add to my sugar and cream.
No amount of caffeine could coax me
out of my sleepy gaze.
It’s overcast again
and the air smells like rain.
I’ve completed my morning rituals—
having never gone to church,
it’s the good earth I worship instead.
The house is quiet, no kids
to cook breakfast for
and I’m free to walk backwards
in my mind. My father’s crossword
Abandoned on the kitchen table.
A cigarette left
burning in a black plastic ashtray.
The scent of maple syrup
fills the room and not long after,
empty plates fill up the counter.
I never did a dish there,
never saw the dishes being done.
It wasn’t my home wherever we were
and it wasn’t his either—we
didn’t have one.
Times since, when I visit my brother,
he makes pancakes for his kids
on Sunday mornings.
At least one thing got passed down.
Where did all that time go?
Next Stop: Nashville
In the air again—
another identity crisis
end to the week.
My love/hate relationship with travel
borders on abusive. I pretend
to be someone I’m not
to get my fix.
The tin can of stale air drops suddenly
The woman serving drinks
continues with a steady hand.
Lots of blue out there.
The perfect color wheel complement
to the cup of Bloody Mary mix
I’ve just been handed.
Hers is a terrible job.
Street Name Daydream
Fifth grade is when every girl
should get a flying pony.
Mine was purple.
On Marshall Avenue,
my innocence was lulled by warmth
and the carefree hum of summer
romancing the trees outside
my window. Nothing would be the same
when it was time to trade my saddle
for a house on Grace Street.
I spent days perfecting my escape
and nights under the cover
of my lavender quilt,
watching David and Johnny duel
for the throne of late night.
I treasured that black and white TV
and daydreamed of fire that would burn
that house to the ground.
On Third Street and Highland Drive
I sacrificed hundreds of journal pages
to false gods conjured into being
by those who came before me.
Wearing Guess Jeans
was the price paid to stand
at the edge of their circle.
I lost entire years on Grover
in my fractured-mirror memory.
So many moments
that couldn’t find a home.
One night, on 97th Circle,
a spontaneous sinewy daikaiju
arched its back and stretched its shadow
across my path. Its heavy tail lingered
over streets I’d known
and its torso hovered above me.
That such a beast existed coaxed me
out of sleep. It was the end
of the longest night I had ever lived.
I looked it in the eyes
and selected a sword.
Now I watch out the window of my castle
as school children walk
Edgewood Boulevard. I imagine
how their stories will turn
as the shiny spoon of youth is tarnished.
I see the sun rise to high noon
and smell burnt platinum
under the magnifying glass
of something borrowed and blue—
the chase of an elusive promise.
No girl should ever be given a pony
as a gift. The hourglass spins on its head.
Home Run Rod
Papa was an alley cat,
hat on backwards, catcher’s glove to the ground.
Rounding bases was his only true love.
Mama was a fax machine,
clean freak, all noise and transmissions. Hard to listen to—
too easy for her own good.
Thinking about how the two got on
so long is like translating the bible into pig latin—
a flat-out waste of time.
We don’t talk about it much—
such a dead horse, our shared heritage,
parentage that was never more than an obtuse angle.
Eventually he went his own way,
astray from the rules in her owner’s manual transmission
commissioned by another team, hungry for a win.
He hit three home runs in his prime
time. Something he should have been proud of—
crowd loved it, but he didn’t seem to care.
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
To view the types of work we typically publish, preview or purchase our past issues.