2 Poems (Jeff Hermann)

How to Surprise Your Family with an Amazing Cake

Go out and buy an amazing cake 

that surprises everyone. 

The frosting is that good. 

I want to forget about the broken things 

in this house. Forget how the sidewalks 

in this town end in the middle.

There’s enough indignity 

and confusion in this world. 

We have to make it ourselves?

I used to go to frat parties. 

I’d drive an hour from my community college 

to where my friends went to universities 

with real Greek houses. Those frat guys 

gave us beer and seemed happy.

I imagine their wives are disappointed 

in the same way I am now,

thirty years later.

All these responsibilities.

We used to thirst, 

didn’t we? And lust.

Words are crude and not beautiful.

But I cannot paint or draw or speak well. 

Math people say zero is a number 

and not a number. Let’s say it’s an egg. 

What are you making for me in there? 

What am I waiting for? I want to go back 

and split the atom myself. 

Love Story for People Hungry for Revolution

We’ve all been shit on

by birds, unable to wake 

from nightmares, cornered 

by thieves in an alley, 

called on to perform surgery 

high on drugs or hung over, 

high on drugs in a corn field, 

stranded on an alien planet 

by cowards at mission control, 

turned into slugs by witches 

bored with cooking 

children in their stoves. 

So let’s make a vow. 

Let’s promise 

to defend each other 

with claws or teeth 

or hairspray and a lit match. 

Let’s storm the government 

radio station 

to find it automated 

and pre-recorded.

Let’s bring down the systems

begging to be brought down. 

Let’s hold hands while we do it.

After we declare 

the death of the state 

bird you can sleep a while.

I’ll keep watch and begin 

drafting the manifesto. 

I know you like it 

when I make a plan 

for breakfast.


Jeffrey Hermann‘s poetry and prose has appeared in Hobart, Variant, UCity Reivew, trampset, JMWW, The Shore, and other publications. Though less publicized, he finds his work as a father and husband to be rewarding beyond measure.


image: M. Roanoke is a queer folk artist based in Kansas City, Missouri. Their photography has appeared in Rejection Letters, and nowhere else. They are on Twitter @Roanokeoke.