Chai The clouds are dark and brooding, whipped swirls the color of nutmeg. It is days like this I can’t free my head of you and the only haven is in nature, the park down the street. But here is where we first bought coffee from that vendor. And contemplated what color the walls should be in the office. Steam wasn’t the only thing fogging my glasses then. I remember early mornings, brewing a cupful of my sweetest Chai for you, how you said love manifests itself in a plethora of ways, how you watered my houseplants and I fed your hazelnut mutt. We stared out windows then. We dreamed, often. My feet are picking up speed now. The first droplets are falling. I can’t count how many acorns I have squashed, how many branches I have snapped underfoot with the boots you bought me last Christmas when we made maple and orange icing, spiked with bourbon. We were so clever then. We breathed, like the wind. The leaves are falling, shades of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon. I am reminded how you warmed your hands against the side of the mug and smiled and something in my heart told me then: never look away.
Feverland Limbo A fever dream brews like a thunderstorm on the horizon like the first drop of hell in an endless sea of sulfur. I enter a forest in distress, silver needles litter the floor and in the moonlight I learn the true meaning of aloneness. I gather them up to brew a tisane of sea salt and sorrow, the only flavor in abundance in a place as waterless as this. Someone is crying but I can't tell if it's me. The wisps here are butterflies, landing gently on my ears. Even though I know I shouldn't, I can't help but follow their trail wherever it takes me.
Finding God in a Church Bathroom As I wash my hands, a cracked painting of Jesus stares me down. He holds a yellowing lamb. Humming a tune I heard from somewhere, I pull sheets of rough paper towel. 'Then sings my soul' The graffiti on the stall shows a priest and a boy, I've heard this joke before. 'My Savior God to thee' The baseboard is riddled with black mold. “Forgive me father, I can’t help but stare in awe at all your creations,” I whisper. 'How great thou art' Crumpling the wet towels into a crude ball, I miss the rim of the trashcan. I shrug my shoulders, and exit through the rusted swinging doors.
Braden Hofeling is an emerging poet located in Portland, Oregon. He has two self-published collections of poetry out and is hoping to publish his third book through an independent small press. His work has been featured in the Gival press ArLiJo issue 153 journal, Death Rattle’s Penrose Vol. 2, Prometheus Dreaming, Arc Prose magazine and New Note poetry.
Header art by Sulaiman Almawash.