[Murder / Suicide]

By Marlin M. Jenkins

             There will always be wound:
I have dreamt               of blade
through [my / your] skin.

This is where I’ve found myself: King Jr
with application for concealed
                                        weapon permit.
Ready to press pistol     into temple[s].

This is where I’ve found myself: with the gun,

             in front            of a line of tanks.
Run me over                and hear
        my skull               pop louder
than congregation’s    praise.

I am like a trapped     animal:
not afraid         to gnaw through
             my own leg. And when
                         they must: [my / your] teeth
sharpen against [my / your] bones.


anxiety attack in bedroom while everyone leaves the party

by Marlin M. Jenkins

                          the arm
is not yours. neither the bubbling
stomach—the black room       the voices
from the next room      a hundred
miles away        the curving lines between
            the shaking the slip the strobe
the bed                          the floor
the bed’s squeak                      the bending
of glass the light           jump now
motherfucker out the window pull
              back the blinds kick
it open all open everything open
run a corkscrew into your arm
motherfucker do it       don’t
do it      don’t
                                         sit still
the feet over      the edges the slip
the arm count again      to ten
to ten   one                     two                    thr—
again—how close                       am i
            please                  safe? please
                                                                  the arm
the bed
              here      with this shaking body


Psalm for All Us

by Marlin M. Jenkins

Yes there are days when
I have wanted to be here,
however few they may be.

Have wanted to be the letters
spreading their cut arms.
Have wanted and wanted
and waited
in a puddle of reasons
to hate, found ways my people
have blessed me in ways
only my people can. Praise be
to covalence and the sweat
in the crooks of our elbows
as our arms are joined. 
Praise be to what is praiseworthy:
which is to say
us and our simple fact of being.

Come sweet communion,
sweet community
after sleeping conflict
coloring my nails purple.

I am sorry for the blood I have drunk
and called good. I am sorry
for the pain I have caused
but not for the pain given to me—
the needles in the pudding,
the plodding and prodding
of a million tongues, bumpy and wet.

We who have known fear:

we are something better than holy.
Let us be holed up together when we need,
and out in these streets as often as we can be, too.

I offer us nothing specific for the future because
I am trying to stop
making promises I can't keep.
In this way I am trying
to be less like my country.
To be less like how I have felt love.

There are many pages
whose edges are stained red
with what of me I have left behind.

There are many spaces in which I have
imagined my empty body
decomposing. Oh how sharply I wanted

to be in each. But how I wanted to find a name
to call
as a synonym for you, tomorrow.

I am not asking for you to tell me it will be good.
Just tell me at least we will continue to be.

Let's start there.

Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and studied poetry in University of Michigan's MFA program. His writings have been given homes by The Collagist, Four Way Review, The Journal, and Bennington Review, among others. He is an editor for HEArt Online, and you can find him on Twitter @Marlin_Poet.