Speechless the Magazine

 To render. Be rendered. Awestruck. Awesome.
A magazine of poetry and related arts straight from L.A.



Joyce Jenkins, Poetry Flash Editor/Publisher

Joyce Jenkins is the author of Portal, a chapbook (Pennywhistle Press), with an introduction by Carolyn Kizer. Her poems have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Parthenon West Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Solo Cafe, Prayers at 3 AM, an anthology (HarperCollins), and The Addison Street Anthology: Berkeley's Poetry Walk, edited by Robert Hass and Jessica Fisher, (Heyday Books), among other publications. She received the American Book Award in 1994 and the National Poetry Association's 1995 Award for Distinguished Service to Poets and Poetry. She is Chair of the Northern California Book Reviewers, whose annual Northern California Book Awards are sponsored by Poetry Flash, the Northern California Independent Booksellers, and the San Francisco Public Library.

The Scroll

Kerouac’s roll of typing paper—
His original road trip through
American autumn recreated as he
hunched over bathroom tiles.
Majestic pack tossed on its back—
unfurled heart at rest—
fifty years later
under plexiglas at Tosca’s.

Traced in graphite veins
with a soft gray pencil
Kerouac crossed out the part
about Lucien Carr marrying the African princess
ten kids.

And the part about playing the horses with his father
all crossed out.
The novel we know, On the Road
begins with lost love—
first thought, best thought?
Its spontaneous, true prose begins:
After the death of my father…
or words to that effect,
loss the real trigger.

The terrible death
what he saw
what I saw
worse than what we could experience ourselves
we wish it were us
then it is
then we take it back
in the pit of night.

That was the mystery that Kerouac sought
A rakish Buddha with catholic tastes.
the scroll
tracing carbon veins

Years later he’s loaded.
Stands at the beach;

Big Sur,
its amber parchment
festooning his arms.

Doves diving

Taking My Daughter to College

 “when writing about great loss, begin with the movement, not ‘I feel.’”
                                                            —Grace Paley, paraphrased

I was walking down Telegraph, noticing movement, picking my way
through the veil of pierced bodies, the Zebra tattoo sign, the music shop display—
disheveled robots made from dog food cans and old CDs, unraveled cassettes for hair,
followed the flow to the Caffe Med—its shiny-aqua mural still reflecting
a haunted Greek in Pompeii. Observant emigres behind the counter—
Caffe where I too have been eighty-sixed—chased for a wandering latte glass
by an exiled man with wild eyes and fiercer temper,
ghost image of the bookstore flower stand as Hassan the florist defended me—
shouted him down—the plush dream roses opening.

Walking down Telly,
my hands became spontaneous language,
signs I knew no context for spoke in tongues,
sang like birds.
There was something
inside of me,
the cool cold cylinder of me,
sweating out
images like toxins.
What I never should have seen
was now tattooed forever    
on some part    of my psyche
untouched by light,
a complex aboriginal message
on the back of my neck.

It was a beautiful fall day
with wisps of clouds so ethereal
they cast no shadows—
like a patient etherized on the horizon.
How did you put it, Mr. Eliot?
Is this why you choose Britain over Missouri?
Oh, the fineness of this light—
and how much the racing
mind can have and may not want.
My hands wanted to tell the story—though
my spirit had already classified it:
my father, my daughter.

Now I’m in an airplane,
            suddenly realize
the rusty Iron Curtain of the landscape below
            is really the deciduous turning of autumn—
                        not a wave of red algae or
            red Utah rock
                        blooming on the green
horizon’s tide.
the spinning discs

these particular New England
            orangy browns
            my convictions      the receding horizon

as escaped lingerie
            unfurling from a pant leg
                        at first unseen

                        pressing where it hurts


Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach