Doug Hoekstra: “The Continental”

The Continental

Long narrow room with black corners
Tucked away, mind and heart get by
Hipster cowpoke sipping a tall boy
While paging through a handmade zine
Reading about what used to be obscene
The stamp on my hand a sharpie C
Or minimalist derriere
Nothing has changed in this world
The President is still corrupt
The nolonger kids are still alright

DeKalb, Palatine, and River Grove
Thirsty Whale and Haymaker punch
Fast, faster, and fastest we sped
Cascading from verse to verse
Dancing with the crowd, three sets
Sleeveless tees and skinny black pants
Not unlike the jeans I chose to wear
On this smoke laden night
A complete accident of time
Sweating hard underneath the lights

There are bars like this everywhere
The moon and the Martian plains
Turn me on like a lite brite, babe
Overdrive and distortion come
The bands are still good
The stage is still high
Outrage and empathy ring
Bass, guitars, and drums we sing
Loud enough to hope – in love
 

Doug Hoekstra is a Chicago-bred, Nashville-based writer. His first book, Bothering the Coffee Drinkers, appeared on the Canopic Publishing (TN) imprint in April 2006 and earned an Independent Publisher Award (IPPY) for Best Short Fiction (Bronze Medal). Other stories and poems of his have appeared in numerous online and print literary journals; a second book of prose, The Tenth Inning, was released independently in 2015, and a book of poetry, Unopened, was released in 2019. 

Rae Rozman: “The Sweetness Before”

The Sweetness Before

Morning stillness.
Her pulse beats in her neck like
hummingbird wings
outside the window
they drink water with
crystals of sugar
swirling into my coffee
her lipstick marks
the rim of my mug
eyes alight with moss and dew.
This is what love tastes like.
This is the sweetness
before.

 

Rae Rozman is a middle school counselor in Austin, Texas. Her poetry often explores themes of queer love (romantic and platonic), brain injury, and education and has been published in several literary magazines. You can find her on Instagram @mistress_of_mnemosyne for poetry, books, and pictures of her rescue bunnies.

Jeffrey Hermann: “My Daughter Creates a Taxonomy of Every Little Thing”

My Daughter Creates a Taxonomy of Every Little Thing

Birds or rabbits is not a simple question
but we have to choose, likewise
windows or doors, the moon

or the stars. That’s the game
What’s essential, what belongs to you
more than the other? Letters or numbers

yellow or blue, trees or grass?
It’s a surprise and a relief
to reduce the world as if it’s too much

Because after all it is
I take pinecones over seashells
blue over yellow, bees over

butterflies; now a god of logic
now a god of instinct
You take brush over comb

windows over doors
sky over sea
And when we’re done

halving the beautiful world
you ask me for tea
with sugar and honey

And all the birds
come flying back

 

Jeffrey Hermann‘s work has appeared in Hobart, Pank Magazine, Juked, Houseguest Magazine, and other publications. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018 by Juked.

Jack Berning: “Thaw”

Thaw

Father told me about the meat
of a mastodon—
the Siberian winter kept it fresh
all these years.

I slept in the freezer
with the meat.
I liked the cold
& couldn’t move.

Father brought a redhead
in a yellow dress
a tulip in her teeth
to thaw me out.

A man has a choice.

Remembered in me
a pretty boy
reading a book in the park—
I told father I cared for him.

Father was a peak.
Mountain boys know
up top, the snow
stays put.

Down here, heavy
yellow night dumps
flurry after flurry. This snow
cannot escape spring.

Too early in May,
the woods tease
their little flowers.
I smell the thaw of river.

His breath a furnace
to my neck.

Father—
it’s just too warm here—

 

Jack Berning is a writer and graduate student at Colorado State University, pursuing an MFA in poetry. He currently lives alone in Fort Collins, Colorado.

 

Roger Singer: “Nightly Faith”

Nightly Faith
 
Every evening
he gazed up
at evening
stars
whispering 
collected words
he was
fond of
 
and if
clouds blocked
his view
he continued to
speak
knowing the stars
were still
there

 

Dr. Roger Singer has been in private practice for 38 years in upstate New York. He has four children, Abigail, Caleb, Andrew and Philip and seven grandchildren. Dr. Singer has served on multiple committees for the American Chiropractic Association, lecturing at colleges in the United States, Canada and Australia, and has authored over fifty articles for his profession and served as a medical technician during the Vietnam era. Dr. Singer has over 1,050 poems published on the internet, magazines and in books and is a Pushcart Award Nominee.