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Louis Jenkins: Three Prose Poems
Bat | Free Lawn Mower | The Back Country


There's a bat circling in the early dark, between the pine tree, the spruce and the maple. He seems happy enough gobbling up perhaps hundreds of mosquitoes on each turn around. But maybe it's Dracula. You have to think about that. Maybe Dracula doesn't transform himself into a bat, instead maybe the bat becomes Dracula. He has to go home soon, put on his little suit and tie and wander around the empty castle muttering to himself in a strange accent. And later, of course, there will be guests for dinner.

Free Lawn Mower

There's a broken down lawn mower at the curbside with a sign reading "FREE." And so I ask myself, what does freedom mean to a lawn mower? A lawn mower that has only one job and no outside interests, a job which it can no longer perform? Gone the days of the engine's roar, the cloud of blue smoke, the open lawn, the waves of cut grass left in its wake, the flying gravel, the mutilated paper cup. Freedom could only mean the freedom to rust away into powder and scale. Most likely the lawn mower will be thrown into the back of a beat-up truck by a guy who sees its potential as scrap, a guy who will seize upon anything of even the slightest value, anything free.             

The Back Country

When you are in town, wearing some kind of uniform is helpful, policeman, priest, etc.. Driving a tank is very impressive, or a car with official lettering on the side. If that isn't to your taste you could join the revolution, wear an armband, carry a homemade flag tied to a broom handle, or a placard bearing an incendiary slogan. At the very least you should wear a suit and carry a briefcase and a cell phone, or wear a team jacket and a baseball cap and carry a cell phone. If you go into the woods, the back country, someplace past all human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange and carry a gun, or, depending on the season, carry a fishing pole, or a camera with a big lens. Otherwise it might appear that you have no idea what you are doing, that you are merely wandering the earth, no particular reason for being here, no particular place to go.

Poet's Biography:
Louis Jenkins lives in Duluth, Minnesota. His poems have been published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies. Among his books of poetry are An Almost Human Gesture (Eighties Press and Ally Press, 1987), All Tangled Up With the Living (Nineties Press, 1991), Nice Fish: New and Selected Prose Poems (Holy Cow! Press, 1995), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, Just Above Water (Holy Cow! Press, 1997) and The Winter Road (Holy Cow! Press, 2000). He has read his poetry on A Prairie Home Companion and was a featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in 1996. A CD recording of Louis Jenkins reading his poems, Any Way in the World, was released by the Thousands Press in November 2000. Two of his prose poems were published in The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner, 1999).

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.