Brett Elizabeth Jenkins


Seven Poems (July 20, 2011. Issue 29.)

I ONLY (May 20, 2010. Issue 17.)

Two Poems (April 20, 2010. Issue 16.)


Seven Poems (July 20, 2011. Issue 29.)

Bodies of Water

Maybe it would be easier to write
a poem about bodies of water

I haven't thrown up into.

Cradle Hymn

Baby, can you keep a secret in your unformed bones? 
             Our secret is simple--
       do not trust. 
                Baby, can you grow your arms out long enough. 
 Baby can you look good in hats. Baby, can you imagine 
             your parents once as small as you are, eyes 
 like envelopes 
                opening so much, the fright, the trees so big, 
       growing up to be a whole body. Making 
the space for you inside it. 
       Baby can you see yourself this way, can you forget 
                    what you know.

How to be Happy

Imagine you are a small stone. Now you are the child who puts 
     the small stone in its mouth. And then the mother who fishes it out. 
Imagine yourself a flower pot. Now the root touching the bottom. 
     Now the flower that could grow larger if repotted. Now you are the pot again. 
Imagine you are a bumblebee. Now imagine you are the cave the bumblebee 
     is tasking in. Now you are the shoe that stomps both bee and cave (but you are not the foot). 
Imagine you are a Thursday. Are you also, in some small way, Wednesday? 
     Or do you consider yourself Friday, since you will be in six hours?
Now you are a monster. And you are also what made the monster. And you 
     are also what the monster ate for breakfast, which, by the way, is Cocoa Puffs. 
Now imagine you are yourself eight years ago. Now imagine saying 
     no instead of yes. Imagine saying yes instead of nothing at all.


Because of how I drink, I feel
Irish. And if I am any indication
of how Irish people actually are,
I'd have to say that there are a lot
of people running around that island
making very poor decisions.

What Will Happen

What will happen if I can't
spend my requisite number of daily hours
worrying about the future?

Waiting for Rain

If you stay we can
figure out how long it takes.

The way you kiss me around
the wrists. Tap messages on my back. Don't say

a word. Write to me only in French. Turn
the thermostat down to sixty and pad

to the kitchen in socks, wrapped up
in blankets like secrets. Boil a pot of water. Two

cups will do. Come back with tea. Steam will
fog between us as we wait under quilts.

The Universe, Whatever

Something about us turning perpetually. Something
about us being positioned just the right distance
away from a strange orb, providing both heat and light.
Something about our position in the universe, whatever
that can mean. Something about the fact that we actually
live on a planet. And that outer space is real.
And then it hit me: I am mortal. My God, I will die.

Table of Contents

I ONLY (May 20, 2010. Issue 17.)

write you so much because I have nothing to say to anyone.
Nearly every night now, a low panic, never really rising up to meet me.

This summer seems to pull itself out into day after day, hour after hot hour.
At night I hear the thunder gathering itself low and slow in the distance,

but nothing ever comes of it. Lightning even peeks itself over tops
of roofs, of tree branches, and the birds keep singing, as if they know

I hope for nothing. I need something else to write you about, but this heat
is sucking me in like bad luck. Remind me of last summer, of how we played

it out. Remind me of the roof, the powerless house, the clouds growing dark
and kissing each other under the wine-rainy sky. Of suddenly

loving you more, again. The choreography of our silence, where
you touched me, of exactly how we climbed back inside that nighted

window—this leg first, then that. Remind me of those summer floods.
How it always seemed to be early evening, always raining.

Remind me how we would sometimes look in the mirror together, to see ourselves
on another surface, standing next to each other, our arms touching just slightly.

That was the beginning of months. The discussions we had with the sky that summer,
your quiet confidence, your lips, my hands, our bones shaking in unison.

But this summer I count you as the storm that never came,
as you are otherwhere and it cannot seem to rain.

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Two Poems (April 20, 2010. Issue 16.)


I wake with the bedsheets balled around my head
like a tired little nest. I am circular breathing

so I don't have to smell whatever it is that’s coming
out of my mouth: some unholy concoction

of six beers and you, who I swore I'd never taste again.
Last night: your backseat, empty bottles, pants.

Outside, fields, tall weeds, and one car that drove slowly
past, though I was too drunk to wonder if they saw

my breasts pressed against the window. I wonder that now,
in bed without you, which is one step forward:

that I wake only with bedsheets.

My Adamant Refusal to Believe It's Not Butter

The smoke is so thick in the air it’s like butter.
I swear your touch is dripping with it, so it’s no
surprise when later, spurred on by the quick wit
of alcoholic pick-up lines, we slip into
each other. I can feel the butter coating our skin.

It feels so good. It says, “Don’t worry, I’m not
really butter. can you believe it?” I can’t
believe it. If it’s not butter, what is making you
slide into me so easily? What is making my hands

roll arpeggios down your spinal cord? I refuse
to blame it on poor decision making. I refuse
to blame it on cheap wine and cheaper glances.
There are clearly higher powers at work here.

Table of Contents
The Legendary