I dug beneath my jagged pieces, wedged
the chunks off and piled them
in a milk crate—saved for kindling.
I am learning to paste the pieces
back with sap and saliva. Ants
have infested the pile. They
crawl over me, carrying fragments
of wood and the dead. I cannot
brush them off. I let them fashion
a home here. I tell them
I am still learning to build.
on visiting a specialist after my running injury,
before my prescription for anti-depressants
Doctor – I see these glowing images
- up in front of us and
- I could not deny myself that victory.
- Here’s another story:
- In this next story, I’m in gym class and when I’m running
- it was him that glued the pieces
back together. In this one
- of catering my own pity party on the corner of Westwood and W. Warren
- in which I’m still broken.
you’re telling me there’s nothing wrong.
I want to tell you a story: when
I injured myself, I forgot how
to stop moving. I know this whim
of long midnight run was a bad idea,
but I ran between the same two ponds
where a few weeks before I thought about
drowning and this time didn’t want to die.
You’re telling me things are back
to normal, so why can’t I dance like I used to?
in this one, the roots from the trees
have forced the sidewalks into crookedness.
We used the bumps as ramps for bikes
and skateboards but had to watch for glass—
jumped over the butts of Black & Milds
in the cracks between pavement.
is when I feel wanted here because
no one wants to pick the black kid
who can’t hoop for their team but
they want me for relays and I’ll take
what I can get. In this next one, our tree
is young and a caterpillar crawls in the space
between the trunk and a mostly-severed
branch and I decide to smash him flat between.
The branch grew in strong and I like to think
I am the caterpillar – you’re telling me
I have become the branch so why
do my joints still feel the weight
of so many autumns? The caterpillar
didn’t have a track team to try out for.
He spent his afternoons looking
over his shoulder, ready to run.
At least when I’m my own cause of pain
I don’t feel so powerless. Doctor – fix me.
Make it so I can run again. I’m tired
where the liquor store clerk hides behind
bullet-proof glass. These ligaments in my legs
keep telling me quit – they want
me to slump like former neighbors’
houses, grass overgrown over my head. Doctor —
tell me what’s next. If you have no cure for this,
at least help me understand the ways
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, The Journal, and Word Riot, among others. @Marlin_Poet.