V.A. Smith

V.A. Smith is a writer and photographer who feels lucky to live and work in Portsmouth, NH. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Star 82 Review, Compose Journal, Driftwood Press, Connotation Press, Scissors & Spackle, Petrichor Review, Temenos Journal, and Stirring. She can be reached at vixworx.com.

Faces Out of Folkus

By James Penha

“Eh, you sonyamabeach,” Porky smiled to a passerby who, deaf to the words spoken from the other side of the front window, tipped his fedora enthusiastically. Porky waved back. He turned to me. “Stupidoudatowna. Minneapoli, whaddayatink?”

We played such games during the afternoons at Folkus.

I used to hope Porky would, in appreciation of the beers I nursed during the quiet hours, reminiscence about the folk singers and rock stars whose plastic-covered pictures lined the back of the bar and, especially, about the legends, living and dead, whose glossy eight-by-ten adolescent faces gazed with ours through the window onto West Third Street.

I used to prod Porky to orate on the subject of the cultural phenomenon of which Greenwich Village was, during the late Eisenhower years through the few Kennedys and early Johnsons, a pulsing center. And Folkus was somehow its . . . well, its focus. Continue reading

Paper Tape's Redesigned tumblr

Editor’s Note: Things are changing over on our tumblr!

As you may know, we feature previously unpublished work exclusively at papertapemag.com. We made the decision to work this way not because we think that self-publishing is “bad” but because we believe that the loudest voices aren’t always the ones who have the most important things to say, that being tech savvy and comfortable with self-promotion shouldn’t be a requirement for publishing on the Internet, and having the time to sift through the firehose shouldn’t be a requirement for reading good essays and fiction.

Of course, there are many artists and writers who participate on sites like tumblr who are not the loudest voices or comfortable with self-promotion and who are not comfortable working with a traditional publishing model, either. Some of them are too busy making art and telling stories to bother submitting their work. Others are avid supporters of Creative Commons and resent the terms of traditional publishing.

We get it, and we want to support these creators, too.

Thanks to our new social media editor, Cai, we have started using our tumblr to share previously published work by artists and writers that is related to our theme. Work that is published on our tumblr will still be vetted by our staff, so you can expect the same level of quality that you find on papertapemag.com.

So, I hope you will check it out, and if you do, please take a minute to welcome Cai.

PS If you’re reading this on tumblr, this is the last time papertapemag.com will repost to tumblr, so you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up to get new posts in your inbox.

This Word Is Teach

by Harmony Button

I was in the back of the bus, and I didn’t know when to get off. I couldn’t see out the front — there were too many kids in the way — but the houses and trees I could glimpse looked familiar. I pulled the yellow cord above the window — the bell went ‘dink!’ — and I began to gather my things. That’s when I realized that I was holding an open can of Strongbow Hard Cider: cold, delicious, totally-illegal-in-a-moving-vehicle-because-it’s-quite-alcoholic cider.

I had to drink it before anybody noticed! — but the bus was already coming to a halt, so I poured the perfectly golden bubbly brew into the two potted trees that I was (suddenly) carrying. It fizzed into the soil and I was sad, but I threw my beach umbrella over my shoulder, held my three-hole punch under my armpit (because you can’t leave those things laying around — they get “borrowed” if you turn your back and you’ll never see them again) and picked up a tree in each hand.

I had to get off that bus.

The driver’s eyes flicked up to his mirror, impatiently. I was trying to make my way down the aisle, but the trees were unruly and difficult to carry. Their drooping branches blundered into other people, catching in hair and smacking at faces. My potted trees were drunkards.

The bus driver asked who had signaled for the stop. Me! I shouted. I’m coming! But there was too much noise. He didn’t hear me. The other kids watched me struggle, their faces blank and pitiless. The bus started rolling forward, past my parents’ house.

Wait! I called. But it was too late.

Continue reading

Forge a Tomorrow

By John Michael Flynn

That last night. That last counterpunch with a sneer toward death. And life. All so unreal and he a ghost somewhere between those that conformed and those that fought while wired on dex, meth and Jack Daniels. That night he and Terry and Neil snaked the back roads of Mecklenburg County at high speeds –was there any other way? Neil said he was just one more black man nobody cared about and it was the same for his brother, Charles, who had been killed on his Harley outside of Hampton Roads. That last night – he and Terry and Neil together. Now gone. All of it gone. Continue reading

How You Get Around

By Casey O’Malley

My bike commute was born as a prayer. A rattley, squeaky prayer, punctuated with potholes, angry cab drivers, and flat tires. One that sang through the frame of a twenty-year-old mountain bike transplanted to the city. A prayer that took unexpected left turns to avoid the traffic sneaking up Fifth Avenue, one that surprised with a bold swoop through the traffic circle. It was an invocation to escape from the mechanized, scheduled world and to soar, unfettered, on the noisy streets. It was prayer to get out, without actually leaving. It worked. Continue reading