Searching The Doll by Mike Jenkins

Slowly pacing the beach,

in age now not in sleep,

it’s a cemetery

but I’ve come to dig.

Gulls wailing what’s inside.

 

I’m alone again at night

in a waking trance

searching for that doll

I dropped, the blood-smirch

on its white wedding-dress.

 

My prints always lead back

to the cellar of that house.

A nine-month sentence stretched

to life on its camp-bed:

the memory condemned.

 

I chatted so readily then

hadn’t learnt suspicion’s martial art,

his affection the breadth of air

and hands soft as powdery sand.

Soon became my jailer, my interrogator.

 

Buried me under his sweaty bulk

so my frenzied fingers tried

to take flight and reach up

to the single slit of light.

Dead birds washed up with the flotsam.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

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Vedran Smailovic by Mike Jenkins

People dash across our TV screens

like sheep scatting from a moorland blaze,

they’ll disappear over the edge of dreams

when we ascend to sleep away the day.

 

But, all of a sudden, within a frame,

a portrait animated and tightly-strung:

the cellist plays on streets where lame

buildings hobble before falling down.

 

His slashback hair is aging a rocker style,

upturned moustache makes a sign of peace;

his two faces: a pizzicato smile

and mournful vibrato of so much grief.

 

His audience are the pavement wreathes,

from the distance come heckles of gunfire:

the amphitheatre where he once bowed

is a frozen skip of bricks and wires.

 

On a thin point he gradually spins

the web-fine veins of an Adagio,

while hearing the bomb’s deadening dins

and fearing for that small bridge below.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

Middle Age by Mike Jenkins

Middle-age is when

you begin to get sensitive

about the crowd swearing at bald refs.

 

It’s when your daughter’s

History homework’s on Dunkirk

and she asks ‘Were you around then?’

 

You look in the mirror every morning

glad that you’re short-sighted

and haven’t got your glasses on.

 

Certain nouns slip out of memory

to be replaced by verbs

like ‘to sleep’ and ‘to lie’.

 

It’s when you want time

to go rapidly to the next holiday,

yet halt completely before you die.

 

It’s when your appalling flatulence

is exposed to your spouse

and you don’t even bother to say ‘Pardon!’

 

You acquire irritable and incurable

ailments in corners of your body

and consider using herbal remedies.

 

You decide you need a new challenge:

working without a tie, your naked

adam’s apple is swallowed by the boss’s eyes.

 

Middle-age is when you take yourself for granted:

treat your dreams as pieces of furniture,

get rid of them on a skip.

 

It’s when you’re addicted to routine

and you don’t admit it, keep on taking it

till you O.D. on those same old scenes.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

The Talking Shop by Mike Jenkins

In the Talking Shop

they spit out bones

which an auxiliary sweeps up:

they’re crushed and made into gloss

for the latest glamorous brochure.

 

They talk white paint, plush curtains,

flowers and plants in the foyer:

they shred leaves of Chaucer

to garnish an exhibition.

 

Cogs of paper push hands

and a clock somewhere

justifies its existence.

They decide to decide later.

 

All the pounds left over

from multi-gym exertions

are heaped on the floor

for clients to sketch

in their frequent boredom.

 

In the Talking Shop

originality is a luxury

nobody can afford:

and if you complain

the word-detectives soon arrest

your mouth and use it to bin

the scraped paint, dead flowers, shoddy curtains.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto