TWO POEMS by Marlin M. Jenkins

/ / home, Issue 10, Poetry



When the pastor spits
while sputtering any
variation of God’s name.


When the swing of preacher’s
head streams sweat into the pews.
(House rules:
capture both spit and sweat
in the elder mothers’ hats.
Use it either as holy water
or anointing oil.)


When you realize the song
on the organ has looped.


When someone says catch
the spirit, as if the altar
is lined with bear traps.


When the AC gives out
when you realize
it was never on.


When sister Bernice’s baby
cries to see mother shuffle
feet like stomping a snake.


When sister Ruth steps on
your new white Nikes.


When the youth minister
runs out the front door.



There are casualties in faith

If you become drunk
on the wine of sweat
and singing and prophecy
enough that the red
text of Gospels bleeds
indistinguishable from black,
from the white space,
from the thick air. Run

Shout to the Lord.
Sing to Him a new song.




Is this not praise? To relearn
speech with thighs
pressed to each ear, practice
the shapes of each soundless
letter against opening of flesh.
Is this how Adam formed
the first alphabet? Was this
the origin of speaking
in tongues? Jesus, I know you
too would open your mouth
and men would rise, would speak
into an opening and
a man would come
forth. I am resurrected
at each little death. I will not
deny the evidence of spirit,
a tongue of fire
descending onto head
from heaven.