IT’S JAZZ NIGHT

Erica Hoffmeister

At the Meadowlark, cool saxophone opening a vein measured by decades. I read once that our
pretensions are all we are. Exposed bricks, mortar crumbles beneath fingernails. I’ve already
spilled Fernet on my white shoes and it might be a sign. I’ve been tail-chasing drum kick
heartbeats since I was a child, music like fresh air built into six-cylinder streams. Kansas City
underground feels like fiberglass, the way the basement echoes with saxophone licks, like hunting
wild onions during the prohibition. Midwestern mud in prisms on palms, my fingers could never
move that fast. Mystery held in cheeks, revealed in a series of notes that for some reason make
sense. Or do they? There are two men discussing the math of it all. Under black-rimmed glasses
and a trumpet pulse:

-you swing like a rusty gate
-you can’t swing a bag of shit


But I can swing from my hips, and with the electrical-tape smell of a baseball bat handle, and on
the backs of strangers, I swing high and pure like the playground in July. My knees are swinging
in my steps.

Outside, the stars are vibrating mercilessly.

 
 
 

about the writer

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Born and raised in Southern California, Erica Hoffmeister earned her MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University's dual degree program in 2015. She has work published or forthcoming in So To Speak, Split Lip Magazine, Rat's Ass Review, Shark Reef, and Literary Mama, among others. She was also a runner-up for the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize in 2016, and received an honorable mention for the Lorian Hemingway Award for Short Fiction in 2014. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and daughter, Scout Séverine, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually misses home—wherever that feels like at the time.

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