One Throne – poems – Rae Hoffman Jager

One Throne
poems by Rae Hoffman Jager
Five Oaks Press, 2017

Because it isn’t uncommon to mistake
an inkling for an omen.– {from} One Answer, and Making the Best of It

Rae Hoffman Jager, in her book One Throne, employs a lyric of transformative repetition. Answer knows nothing but its double and humor enters the ache trade armed with loneliness. After reading, I felt I’d eaten the doll out of house and home and that perhaps absence could indeed make heads or tails of being upside down. Which is to say I felt optimistically worried and deeply momentary. Jager is a priestess of distraction, and distraction, here, is the key to being present.

so think of this instead, dear—-
The ocean is so violent. – {from} First Loss

These are poems populated with cameo and propped up with a singular crookedness. Poems in which a young person, made anxious by the song of an owl, seeks both call and response from the reader, you, who will then admit quietly to yourself that you need help watching television. Poems that are awake and/or/and summoned.

So I guess we spent all this time looking for a map. I don’t know what to mourn. As for Jager’s resuscitations of the deceptively trivial- I think they tell us we matter.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:
One Throne–Rae Hoffman Jager

person Rae Hoffman Jager, three poems

Rae Hoffman Jager’s first chapbook, One Throne, was released by Five Oaks Press July of 2017. Rae has been published in a variety of magazines–Ambit, Arsenic Lobster, Leveler, Sport Literate, to name a few. Her work has won two contests and been described as rambunctious, urgent, funny, and elegiac. When she is not writing or reading poems for Rivet, she can be found thinking.


                  to Tosh

Instead of bonfire,
torn bag,
                  half circle
around it.

Instead of camp
                  song, stories
about a dead guy.
Sarah thumbing

through what
                  he left behind
in a limp box, items
that can be torn
in half:

cigarette box,
Christmas card,
a clear memory of his face.

Instead of prayer,
If you could
                  choose one
object to haunt
what would it be—

and how would you
inhabit it–   by fire,
water submersion,
hands around the neck?

Forget it,
                  Nothing can make
you feel better now, friend,
not for a while,

so remember
Instead of rot,

what lingers on
becomes light,

even rocks
                  on the grave
that receive him.

~Accidentally Crashing a Resort Gathering in Tiberias, Israel where Tourists Read Letters From the Dead

Full on Riesling and St. Peter’s fish,
we stroll down 90, taking in the Galilee
until we find ourselves on a private beach
surrounded by crying tourists
                  which isn’t uncommon.
Almost everyone who comes to Israel
for the first, second, or third time breaks down
in tears over the same old superstitions—
a wall, a church, a golden dome.
Why should this be any different?
Behind the palms and Astroturf,
the moldy awnings and bloated moon,
one woman separates herself far
from the tour buses and chant-circles,
on a distant rock. We watch her
heave-sob, her sorrow
sanctimonious and ugly.

~Civic Duty

I wake up at 6am and drink coffee in front of the TV,
watch the latest shooting unfold,
panic in HiDef.

I start my car, go to Red Cross. They hook me up—
one needle in each limb, one in my neck.
Drain me dry, sorrow machine,
until I have nothing left.

The heroes among us
are sucking their thumbs,
not again. Here I go,

rubbing the sheets raw
in my sleep while I practice
running away
and not towards.