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
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
And the part about playing the horses with his
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.
tracing carbon veins
Years later he’s loaded.
Stands at the beach;
its amber parchment
festooning his arms.
Taking My Daughter to College
“when writing about great loss, begin with the
movement, not ‘I feel.’”
I was walking down Telegraph, noticing movement,
picking my way
through the veil of pierced bodies, the Zebra tattoo sign, the music
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
by an exiled man with wild eyes and fiercer temper,
ghost image of the bookstore flower stand as Hassan the florist defended
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,
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,
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
the spinning discs
these particular New England
my convictions the receding horizon
as escaped lingerie
unfurling from a pant leg
at first unseen
pressing where it hurts