Marlin M. Jenkins

For Dave (the dope-fiend shootin dope who don’t know the meaning of water nor soap)

!50!!25!after Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”

Dave, where the hell you get
that shotgun? You ever
cradle that shit like Cobain,
like uncles cradle beer and
bottles of whisky? You
think yourself ready? Like when
I walked out my front door
and saw all your stuff thrown
out onto the snow? That day,
you said your daughters
were at their grandmother’s.
I haven’t seen them since, and
I miss the violent clang of beads
on braids as they ran, how they
would slam gates in front of me,
how they stuck together with
my sister. Have you seen them
recently? Have they seen you
like this – thin like champagne
glass, eyes like peppermints?
Dave, I’m tired of knowing

how our stories end. I miss the man
I watched play chess on the porch,
winner of water-fights with garden hose,
neighbor who peacefully used snow
shovel to keep our tiny white dog away
when he attacked. But this isn’t
about that: it’s about craving violence
to the self, how we learn to mute
so many forms of screaming. Dave,
let’s get out of this abandoned house,
dump the gun in the river, be more
than the characters in bedtime stories
meant to scare the children straight.

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, Word Riot, and The Offing, among others. You can find him online at and @Marlin_Poet.