R. E. Hengsterman


The brown paper bag / wrinkled / smelled of sweets and cigarettes

Seventy-five cents, he says / flashing Swedish fish, and bubble gum 

I have no money / maybe tomorrow; he says / yes, tomorrow

He returns / I have fifty cents; I say / hmm…, not enough

Take this, he says / dumping half into my hands / the remainder back into the bag

Tomorrow climb the hill / near the snake cave

After school, I climb / penny candy on my mind

Human flesh tastes warm / firm / hard 

This bag’s free, he says / be back tomorrow / same place, you can have another

On the hill / between the bushes / same warm flesh / and another bag

The candy’s getting stale / the warm, hard flesh, old

I don’t want to climb the hill anymore 

The Swedish fish are sour / the gumballs old / I gag

Not today, I say / but into the woods I go / alone

On the hill, I see / another / earning their penny candy

I taste the flesh / a memory

I have a large branch / I strike / penny candy spilling  / crimson on the grass

Penny candy / penny candy, I say / meet me on the hill / near the snake cave




R.E. Hengsterman is a writer and film photographer who deconstructs the human experience through photographic images and the written word. He is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and a flawed human who writes under the beautiful Carolina sky. You can see more of his work at www. ReHengsterman.com and find him on Twitter at @rehengsterman.