Sympathy For The Statist

“Hope and Change!”
He said (they screamed)
Until the voucher was redeemed
And cashed in
To claim the big prize
The ~White~ House
Brother, I can spare a dime
(Exasperated sighs)
Any time
Just tax me for it

The noise of that hope has grated
Over our ears
For almost eight years
Unlike government cheese
Which does not grate well
Because it is soft
And oily
Slippery and serpentine
Moldering, not nearly nutritious enough
But hungry, good people
(Both black and white)
Just ate it up
And it was our just dessert
Because we get
The leadership we deserve

And we had not yet trusted
A black person to drive
The bus of state
(From busing to Bubba to cowboy Geo Dubbya)
So we sat a doubtful man
At the front of the world
Gave him the keys
And a gold medal of peace
To try to appease
Our national sin
The racism within
That all extractions
Are complicit in
But it was not his skin
That repaid our sin
Rather the thin
Veneer of socialism
A mockery of reparation

Your license is a joke
Your rugged individualism
By committee
Reorganized at a community meeting
And I hope you enjoyed meeting
People in purple tshirts
Because they are your co-passengers
We’ll be told where we roll
Please sit in the back and be quiet
It’s public transit, pay the damn toll

Ruthless, reckless driving
Run over and out with
So many hands on the wheel
Black rubber, white walls
American Steel
Melting down with an acrid smell
An old, new deal
Another Great Society
Reduced to rubble
Like Rome before it
(Can you hear Nero’s fiddle?)

Hey, diddle diddle
The moon is turning red
We are all filled with Dred
And fine Mr. Scott
A principled man
Would choke on the stench of our burning
Our willfully turning
Ourselves into slaves
Once again
To the State
Without regard to our melanin
Blue bloods, millenial thugs
American Latins
Lighting Cuban cigars
With gringo dollar bills
Self immolating
Selling ourselves for a ride
To what end?

Jeff Jenkins

God help you if you’d give up freedom in exchange for some sense of security or provision that you are not brave enough to reach out and grab for yourselves.

Racism, specifically expressed in slave ownership, is America’s original sin. Socialism, specifically expressed in our lazy desire for a nanny state of the kind that the current President has helped usher in may prove to be our final sin and the death of our republic. We’ll see if we can rally around the new guy.


Hidden By Snow

January has more days than any other month
Which you would never know

By marking a calendar with a big, black pen
For the days are not measured by passage of time
But rather by the world-weary turning of wheels in your soul
Down a long, sheer road that is hidden by snow
(you roll and you roll)
And the glare blinds you to the world moving by
You only feel the crunch of it
Or the blank thwump-thump of it
Each revolution pulling you further into the white


There are other sounds

Marking passage and chill

Arid gusts, ruthless and brute

Whistling through leafless branches

(that are so frigid they are mute)

Content to let the wind speak for them

As it wills

Or a far away bird’s cry

A cold, solitary blast

That hangs frozen with the rest

All of it so hard

(water, wastes, wilderness)

You can’t scratch out the translation

As crisp noise enters your ear


January holds extra days, hidden by snow

Which you would never know

Because they are stupid and dull
Blocks of ice so opaque

They lack the awareness

Or the compassion

Or the simple decency

To thaw in the presence of our heat


Jeff Jenkins

“Solar” by Grandson Josiah (mixed media – popsicle sticks and masking tapes)

God In The Doorway by Annie Dillard

One cold Christmas Eve I was up unnaturally late because we had all gone out to dinner-my parents, my baby sister, and I. We had come home to a warm living room, and Christmas Eve. Our stockings drooped from the mantle; beside them, a special table bore a bottle of ginger ale and a plate of cookies.

I had taken off my fancy winter coat and was standing on the heat register to bake my shoe soles and warm my bare legs. There was a commotion at the front door; it opened, and cold winter blew around my dress.

Everyone was calling me. “Look who’s here! Look who’s here!” I looked. It was Santa Claus. Whom I never-ever-wanted to meet. Santa Claus was looming in the doorway and looking around for me. My mother’s voice was thrilled: “Look who’s here!” I ran upstairs.

Like everyone in his right mind, I feared Santa Claus, thinking he was God. I was still thoughtless and brute, reactive. I knew right from wrong, but had barely tested the possibility of shaping my own behavior, and then only from fear, and not yet from love. Santa Claus was an old man whom you never saw, but who nevertheless saw you; he knew when you’d been bad or good. He knew when you’d been bad or good! And I had been bad.

My mother called and called, enthusiastic, pleading; I wouldn’t come down. My father encouraged me; my sister howled. I wouldn’t come down, but I could bend over the stairwell and see: Santa Claus stood in the doorway with night over his shoulder, letting in all the cold air of the sky; Santa Claus stood in the doorway monstrous and bright, powerless, ringing a loud bell and repeating Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. I never came down. I don’t know who ate the cookies.

For so many years now I have known that this Santa Claus was actually a rigged-up Miss White, who lived across the street, that I confuse the dramatis personae in my mind, making Santa Claus, God, and Miss White an awesome, vulnerable trinity. This is really a story about Miss White.

Miss White was old; she lived alone in the big house across the street. She liked having me around; she plied me with cookies, taught me things about the world, and tried to interest me in finger painting, in which she herself took great pleasure. She would set up easels in her kitchen, tack enormous slick soaking papers to their frames, and paint undulating undersea scenes: horizontal smears of color sparked by occasional vertical streaks which were understood to be fixed kelp. I liked her. She meant no harm on earth, and yet half a year after her failed visit as Santa Claus, I ran from her again.

That day, a day of the following summer, Miss White and I knelt in her yard while she showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point. It burned; I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying. Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining, but I didn’t look back.

Even now I wonder: if I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm, and kindle that spot and let me burn?

But no. It is I who misunderstood everything and let everybody down. Miss White, God, I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.

The Color Of Flesh

Leave me well loved
In this warm pink flesh
Or leave me alone
Just don’t leave me
Hanging from these words
Long and lonely
A sad story
Strung out
Spun out
Away from you
Crimson and blue
Cold but true
All too human
The blush and the hue

We construct the gallows
We hang from
Fashion the lumber
From our incarnate timber
Our bones
And the context
And meaning of love
Are found hidden
In the grain
The intensity and density
Of it are revealed
In cut things
In concentric rings
At the core
Where our love grew
Season upon season
Without needing a reason
Or a context
Because love is free-form
But held fast by skin
By the bark of trees
That spring forth and grow
A forest in our hearts
And we can not see
Where we are
Because of it

We can not see
Because of love
But we feel an ache, a chill
And know that Autumn
Is very near, and still
If love is dear
We will hang on
With a tenuous grasp
Reaching out to clasp
The hands of our God
Who grows our hearts up
Into trees
The leaves of which
Change colors and leap
Swirling and twirling
In incarnadine death
Preferring the name “Fall”
To “Autumn”
Because that is what love is
Falling into the ground
To rise again
In love
And full of wrath
Because love is
As strong as death
Warm and pink
The color of flesh

Jeff Jenkins


String Theory

Bendable things
(Bouncy strings)
And reality is bendable too
In two dimensions
Or three
Or ten
You can’t guess when
Things will tie together
And hold themselves down
For one damned second

Because time
(All of the time)
Probably isn’t real
Though I feel
Time’s decay
You can’t guess why
Things ever die
They let go and spring
Free from what held them

Alternate universes
(Insert your own verses)
Make their own music
In the spheres
And go “boing”
You can’t guess how
But they wiggle
Don’t you dare giggle
They dance on the string
We high-wire-walk on

Why I Treasure Sea Glass


I’d guess a lot of people like sea glass. It’s charming and kind of “shabby chic”, which is en vogue right now.

But I think there’s special magic in sea glass, and also a gift from God.

Sea glass begins as a human-created thing, a useful container, or some pretty object that someone designed or manufactured. Then it is discarded in reckless fashion. (throwing trash at or near the sea bespeaks laziness or bad stewardship) Or perhaps it is simply lost, again hinting at a casual lack of concern, and, on a larger scale intimating a disposable culture of things.

The ocean swallows this detritus and devours some entirely. Occasionally the ocean gives a small portion back though…after licking it. Lapping at it. Lolling it around in it’s ominous maw and tasting it with it’s rough or tender tongue. Then the sea belches up a further refined creation, that has almost been uncreated or recreated into a new thing entirely.

Sea glass speaks of:
Permanence – it has survived this far.
Impermanence – it bears the marks of time and is still on its way to decay.
Diversity – of hue, shape, size and frequency.
Ruggedness – scarred yet persevering.
Malleability – it is caught in the midst of metamorphosis. Transformation trapped in time.
Mystery – what was it originally? Where did it come from? How long has the ocean held it? Why did I find it? (Or why did it reveal itself to me?)
Preciousness – like any gem, precious or semi-precious, it is now a gift from the the earth.
Possibility – what can I, or will I choose to do with this found beauty?

Sea glass is a gift of hope to me from God. What is old can be made new. What was pedestrian can be made magical. What was parochial can become exotic. What was forgotten refuse is now a beautiful, precious mystery that I can hold in my hand.

Like all gifts which are given freely, I may even choose to turn around and gift a piece into your hand. In which case, we would be friends. And we could hope together.

Our most perfect hopes will never fail us!

Jeff Jenkins

Ghost Doll

My eyes are vacant
(You won’t find me there)
I’ve hidden my pains
All my gains
So far underground
They are ghosts now
Not the kind you can summon

A doll’s life for me
(I’m hiding in there)
All plastic and beads
Spastic with needs
That can’t be made to talk
Not the kind you can pull by a string

I’m a real girl tho
(Or am I still there?) 
A woman in full
One with the pull
Of the pain that makes me
More real than the baby you knew

I turn it off
I turn it on
I am real!
Ghosts can’t feel!
But I am clearly
Living and giving and
I won’t be set
On a shelf

I declare myself

Jeff Jenkins