Psyche

Pleased to have a brand new short story of mine, “Psyche,” in the latest print edition of The Main Street Rag literary journal, volume 24 number 4, Fall 2019.   It’s a print zine, so try to buy a copy and dig all the great authors involved.  My tale follows right here…

20191104_145401Psyche

We met at an art opening. My friend Jeric was debuting a series of mixed media canvasses and sculptures examining the role of the psyche in social media. There is chaos in structure and all things repeat were my takeaways from the show. But, I never had a chance to discuss it with him, because I was diverted by my future.

She was in the corner studying a piece, called “Your Story” a collage of broken glass, stone, and wire, covered by layers of translucent wax hung like netting over the base, in layers. It was backlit by a single blue spotlight. Against this backdrop she stood, wearing a very fashionable 1920s flapper hat that that accentuated her black hair and deep set eyes. Dark and inviting, I asked if she was up for a ride to Great Neck. It was atypical for me to chat someone up this way, but she got the joke and we began talking about Fitzgerald. The conversation that followed was engaging, and wide-ranging – art, books, philosophy, meaning. She came back to my place for more and stayed the night. After that, we began to see each other fairly regularly. Her name was Jane and she came and went like a cat, usually at night, seemingly random, but, with precise intent. Sometimes we’d be out of touch for a few days and then all of a sudden, she was in the neighborhood on some random errand, what’s up, and of course, I’d say nothing and soon, she’d be walking the walk down the hallway to my bedroom. Lucky for me I was self-employed.

I grew up in the Midwest, and it shaped me. It was a middle class upbringing and when I became an adult, I just kept grinding, working at what I did, getting better and making a bit more dough as I went, adding it to my bank account. I didn’t draw attention to myself. And, along the way I continued to live simply, buying my clothes at Goodwill, rarely eating out, and running my cars into the ground. I bought art when I traveled – prints, paintings, sculptures – and that was my only indulgence. This modest approach came in handy with women, because there were few external signs to focus on, as to what I did for a living, where I’d been, or where I was going. That came later, if at all. It allowed me, and us, to simply be, apart from personal or material flash. But, with Jane, I experienced cognitive dissonance. I began to wonder if she could really see who I am. I began to question my ability to trust. I began to wonder if any of this mattered.

About six months in, soon after midnight, she woke me up to tell me about a dream she had. She brushed the hair away from her face and spoke rapidly, as she often did. “It was really weird, you lived in this huge mansion, main street ragit was like something you’d see in Belle Meade or something. And it was filled with art, but not modern art, classics.” She gestured with her hands, accompaniment to her story, flinging paintings into the air. “Matisse, Picasso, stuff like that. And it was your house, but you weren’t there. I was with Jeric.”

Jeric was, of course, the artist who had drawn us together, a mutual friend, met through different journeys. “And he kept telling me I must never see what you look like.” She stopped suddenly .

“That was it.”
“Was it freaky?” I asked.
“No, just odd. I don’t know what to make of it.”

I ran a hand across the smooth of her back as she sat up in bed. “It doesn’t have to mean anything.” I said, providing what I thought was a gentle touch. We were enveloped in the darkness, shadows coming through the blinds and crisscrossing the bed. A sliver of light from the streetlamp painted the covers, just missing our faces.

“Oh yes, it does. It means something,” she said, biting her lip. “It always does.” She jumped up and stood by the side of the bed. “I must never see what you look like, “she muttered a couple times. “Do you mind if I light a candle?”

There was a candlestick holder on her nightstand, which I’d bought in Kenya. It was carved out of soapstone, a type of metamorphic rock that allows the sculptor to twist the base like a piece of rope. Or a snake. She admired it on our first night together and brought it in from the living room for whenever she came over. It always sat on her side of the bed and now, she reached for it and lit the wick with her lighter, the flame casting a soft glow over her naked lithe body. She was the tallest woman I’d ever been with, and she carried herself with grace. I watched as she got up and moved around the bedroom as if she’d never seen it before, walking slowly, considering things.

“No Picassos, but you do have nice things, the glass sprite, and of course, the woodcuts. Are they expensive?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “I just pick them up along the way.”
“Ah,” she said, teasingly. “Like me.”
“If you live long enough, you accumulate things, “I joked. “That’s how it is.”

She came back to the bed and lowered herself, smiling, straddling me and holding the candle over my face as I lay on my back. “You are so hot,” you know, “seductive.” She pulled the covers back a little and let a drop of candle wax fall on my chest. “Oh, I’m sorry, did that hurt”

“No, I replied. It’s fine.”
“We should try that sometime,” she said slyly, “I did that once, with one of my exes…” She set the candle back down on the nightstand and slipped back into bed. There was a pause “Jeric.”

It was unprompted and maybe that’s why the revelation unsettled me a bit. I wasn’t jealous by nature, but I wondered how it was I didn’t know, and how long ago it was. Sometimes I wondered where we were headed, but I rarely wondered where we’d been. I also wondered if any of that mattered. She read my thoughts.

“It was a long time ago,” she added, “and it’s you I love.”

She backed into me and I put my arms around her, spooning from behind. Wax dripped on the floor, drop by drop, until the candle disappeared. After that, the walls began to melt, liquid slowly pooling on the floor around the bed, hardening as the colors mixed. The glass sprite broke into pieces and the woodcuts were destroyed as they fell. Silently. All that remained was the door frame, where the opposite wall had been. My temptation was to jump through, running as fast as I could to the open sky beyond, dark but dotted with starlight. There was nothing but space around us. But, somehow Jane slept through the chaos, unaffected, as she had many nights before and so I simply held her tighter and closed my eyes as the bed floated away, into the slipstream, our souls and psyche intact

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Boxes

Pleased to have a new flash fiction, “Boxes,” up at Friday Flash Fiction.    Enjoy!

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/longer-stories/boxes-by-doug-hoekstra

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Southern Festival of Books – October 11

Happy to be appearing at this year’s Southern Festival of Books on the “Bards of Nashville” panel.  A tall order for me and Mr. Olney, but hey, we both write songs and poetry. Conversation, dialogue, readings – Nashville Public Library Conference Room 3, at 1 p.m. Signing on the colonnade at 2.   I shall talk about and read from my poetry collection,  Unopened.

(Thanks to TN Humanities for this year, and past years participation, whether performing my  music or discussing my past books, Nashville and in Memphis.)

092519 Flyer(Square)

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Prairie Sky / New Poem

New poem of mine ,”Prairie Sky” up at Feminine Collective, a journal in which “powerful women” (and a few good men) share their inspiring stories of daily life….humanity, raw, and unfiltered.”  This is a repeat performance at FC for me, and am grateful to be re-include in this fine zine. I strive for simplicity, in my life, writing, music and this one is an attempt to leave the spaces in and hopefully, say more with less.  Enjoy, Doug

Prairie Sky

 

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Wordstream August 30

Really nice gig at WDVX Wordstream in Knoxville, reading from Unopened and playing some tunes.  Also, really nice press piece from the Daily Times in Maryville

Hitting all the right notes: Doug Hoekstra blends poetry, performance and parenthood by Lee Zimmerman Daily Times correspondent Aug 28, 2019

Doug Hoekstra is what some people might refer to as a Renaissance man. Raised in Chicago and currently residing in Nashville, he’s a single dad, a prolific author and a singer-songwriter. With nine albums and three books to his credit — his latest literary effort, a book of poetry titled “Unopened,” was released earlier this year — he boasts a wellspring of creative ability.

Not surprisingly then, his efforts have been well received. After doing his undergraduate work at DePaul University and obtaining his master’s degree from Belmont University, he went on to receive an Independent Publisher Award for Best Short Fiction and contribute to dozens of well-respected literary journals.

As a musician and performer, he’s reaped wide acclaim as well. He’s been cited by critics for his clever, conceptual songwriting, articulate means of expression and a descriptive style that recalls Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and other icons of similar standing. A Nashville Music Award and Independent Music Award nominee, his albums have found their way to any number of annual Top 10 lists. At one point, he was the epitome of a journeyman troubadour, but these days he remains not only devoted to his craft and creativity, but above all, to his son, Jude. That’s found him juggling parental responsibility with his writing regimen and a musical mindset.

IMG_20190830_202325_701“I’ve always written prose and music in some fashion,” Hoekstra said. “I started out writing short stories, and my degrees are in English and creative writing. I like artists like Dylan and Patti Smith, who manage to weave rock ’n’ roll and poetry together. My first book, ‘Bothering the Coffee Drinkers,’ was my fictionalized version of what I saw in the music world. I’d write the short stories and then get them published in various magazines. So the collection was a great way to complement what I was doing musically. That really got me going in that direction.”

“Unopened” marks his first foray into poetry, and he said his son was one of the prime reasons for the project.  “I sort of put my music on the shelf to focus on my son and life in general,” Hoekstra said. “But if you’re a creative person, you still tend to focus on what’s going on around you. So it seemed that was the format that I could do that in, perhaps not more easily, but certainly more fluidly, without having to tour or into a studio with a band and so on. I originally conceived it as something I could give to my son as a keepsake, but it started to take on a certain shape and form that I thought was pretty cool. I then started writing to that form, and suddenly I thought, ‘Well, I guess I have a book.’ It was very organic in the way it came out.”

That said, Hoekstra said he sees no difference in the way his art tends to be expressed.
“To me, the form is all the same,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a painting or a song or a film. It’s still about taking your experience and filtering it through these characters, and presenting it in a way people will hopefully enjoy. What I found in doing the poems is that I could do them in a way that was more direct.

“I don’t think I’d put those subjects in a song in the same way. There’s something different in the point of view with a poem. They allowed me to go into places that I wouldn’t in a song. I got the sense that these are topics that are better suited to poems.”
Accordingly then, Hoekstra said he found the book to be a liberating, if somewhat unexpected, experience.

“When I think about the kind of songs I write, I’m forever influenced by Dylan and the way he writes, which can be intensely personal and yet symbolic at the same time,” he said. “That’s the gold standard for me. As a songwriter, that’s what I’ve tried to go to. While I touch on personal things, I would never frame it in a way that was self-indulgent. So when I was doing the poems, I wasn’t thinking about the music, and that made it more freer than anything I had done in a while. You just roll with that.”

With his son in high school, Hoekstra said that he’s now finding more time to devote to his creative ventures. He has a new album in the works — his first in a decade — as well as plans for another book of short stories.  “I’ve demo’ed about 15 new tunes, which are the first songs I’ve written in ages,” he said. “I’ll be doing some recording in Nashville and then up in Chicago to record with a friend I once worked with, as well.”
Still, Hoekstra acknowledges that getting back into a more prolific posture may be a bit of a challenge after such a long layoff. However, he also insists he has no regrets.

“I took time off to be with my son, and it was great,” he said. “I look back on that period as the happiest time of my life. When your kids are that age, it’s golden. Still, you have to be free to keep the ideas flowing, even though that can be hard to do when you have pragmatic things you have to deal with.”

IF YOU GO
Doug Hoekstra (poetry reading and music performance)
WHEN: Noon on Friday, Aug. 30
WHERE: WDVX-FM studios, for the radio show “Wordstream,” broadcast live from the Knoxville Visitor’s Center, 301 S. Gay St., downtown Knoxville
HOW MUCH: Free
CALL: 865-523-7263

https://www.thedailytimes.com/entertainment/hitting-all-the-right-notes-doug-hoekstra-blends-poetry-performance/article_48411eb7-37a0-55f0-87ae-79c7e7b18b57.html

 

 

 

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Writer’s Voices Archived

Screen shot from Writer’s Voices (KHOE, KICI-LP), which has kindly archived the recent Doug Hoekstra radio interview/reawriters voices 3ding at their website, as well as

Apple (iTunes podcast) and

You Tube.

Check it out and thanks

Posted in 2019, books, connections, live event, memory, perspective, Poetry, radio shows, Unopened, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lyrical Brew May 31

Posted in 2019, books, live event, Nashville, Poetry, Unopened, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment