Marlin M. Jenkins

To answer your question, Jimi: no, I am not experienced.

            some days       I am both the joker and thief
lying to myself            hiding
                                    my hands cradling
the stacked stones                  collecting their dust

hands which hold no instrument        nothing
to press violently         into speaker
to smash and burn                   summon
                         the smoke from flames

                         the steam of kettle
even that whistle a song
a morning of guitar
fastened around you
at breakfast                 at tea

me in my bed again
            flat            and still
            as a fixture
            sightless as a box
                        so just another morning          honestly

can you hear the howling?
how do your fingers
control such distortion
            blues bent to rock
my day bent to voices
            and too-quick breath,
            too-violent trembling
and paranoia                my swollen
knuckles          and nails too long

did you still play when scared
            scared even for your black life? scarred
and falling from the haze?

I guess there’s a score to this chaos

like a garden  trimmed to look
as if natural—
                        how about that?

            how about living so hard
            your name is an experience?

what would die in you with
a collapse of fingers?

            what died in us when
                        you died?

            I guess there must be
            some kind of way out of here
I press my knuckles to teeth
                                    and pretend they sing

Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and is a poetry student in University of Michigan’s MFA program. His writings have been given homes by The Collagist, Bennington Review, The Journal, and The Offing, among others. You can find him online at and @Marlin_Poet.

(Visited 201 times, 1 visits today)