Jacob DeVoogd is an MFA candidate at Western Michigan University
where he serves as a graduate instructor. He placed second in the 2017
Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, has twice received honorable
mentions from Glimmer Train Press, and he received the 2017 Gwen
Frostic Fiction Award. Born in Detroit, Jacob spent his formative years
in Chicago and currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan (USA).
In One of Earth's Attics
I think I first saw her on the shoreline
of Lake Michigan. A night so humid
one could falter with feeling
dark and water were somehow conjoined.
Thick heat that night, this heat that chewed on skin
like a mostly harmless mosquito.
A silhouette of shapes inspired internal computation.
Endless additions and subtractions, algorithms calculating
the distance between reality
and the zeniths of her femininity,
lit and locked into place by fluorescents
shining from liquor store beams, the Smoker's Palace, and the local
China Fare across the street on Sheridan.
Miles separating present moment
and memory never seemed so abundant,
but I snapped a photo anyway with a phone
that in three years would rest in a drawer housing
unused items: (assorted take out menus,
oven mitts, matches from a wedding that's already
resulted in divorce).
She approached me, an uninvited spectator,
hoping for answers to my interest in her presence,
but instead received
an invitation to the local China Fare across
the street on Sheridan.
Clockwork filtration system sifting us,
clinching us to leaden doors framed
and cemented together by
yes and no, red or blue.
or else weeping
alongside sloppy national intercourse.
Words have so much power, you once
slurred, but only if we could speak them.
Pitter patter of tomorrow extinguished by
a missing emblem. Spirits leaking into ignition,
sparked by hopes and inability.
Hesitations croon more than an Admiral,
tuned to a station
The Only Way to Break Styrofoam
My breath drifts over you and fogs
the El train window you're leaning against, balmy heat of late summer sticks
your back to seat.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY reads across exit doors inside our car. Passengers exit,
doors open and close. Outside, I see coolant leaking
from AC units. I am uncertain
whether your hair will ever unglue itself
from the window you lean against,
combination of sweat and heat, nature and glass,
human and not. You wake up and are unglued;
you rustle my hair the same way you did two weeks ago
when you brought me to your dance studio on the north side.
In studio, you strapped
fabric to flesh, popped in a rhythmic track and floated, it seemed, above
You remind me this is your stop. The sun is setting, you pop in your earbuds,
kiss me on the cheek. I watch as you tap
down Sheridan, coolant leaking on your shoulder blades as you stand, momentarily,
under a bar's awning, face half illuminated
by deep purple neon lights, half captured
by the almost darkness of another passing day.
The train pulls away, and I imagine I hear your steps reverberating
as your toes pop and knock
and form patterned frequencies that might bounce off of
abandoned buildings, coin operated meters, glass bus stop enclosures
as one of your ear bud dangles a short distance from cracked concrete. I continue
on the El west loop-bound, Union Station, about to take a trip from which I do not know
when I'll return, and it's like
we never even said goodbye.
Her fingertips thrum unsent facsimiles,
staples mined from soon to be shredded paper piles
amass on her desktop corner. Freon waves
shot from air conditioned mazes brush
staple summits toward the ground,
electrical chords, an ineffective ant bait enclosure.
They flitter like samara seedlings,
maple whirlybirds spinning, helicoptering
away from trees
that have stood longer than the she could once count
as a child
on directionless summer afternoons, hours
elongated by timeless sunrays roving then reflecting
off her lemonade pitcher
that stood on a poker table borrowed from her father
and her basement's cobwebs.
For only fifty cents, with or without ice,
cups of liquid that were at once
too sugary, too sweet, too tart.
Though underneath the ashen shade
stemming from wooded heights endlessly tiptoeing skyward,
dirt road commerce curved,
crawling into profit margins.
With such surplus, she
imagined countless purchases
turquoise misted marbles.
But soon she was reminded
that Bazooka Joe tastes
and that her mother, still at the office,
had yet to fill the fridge.
Back to Front.