30 January 2008

the signs have all been switched on us, happiness must mean true sorrow

Mural Detail, Radford, VA

Chandelier, Kazemer's Bar and Grill (formerly All Country Bar), Pulaski, VA

Jim Dandy's Muffler Shop, Pulaski, VA

Two poems by Louis Jenkins


I sit down at a table and open a book of poems and move slowly into the shadow of tall trees. They are white pines I think. The ground is covered with soft brown needles and there are signs that animals have come here silently and vanished before I could catch sight of them. But here the trail edges into a cedar swamp; wet ground, deadfall and rotting leaves. I move carefully but rapidly, pleased with myself.

Someone else comes and sits down at the table, a serious looking young man with a large stack of books. He takes a book from the top of the stack and opens it. The book is called How to Get a High Paying Job. He flips through it and lays it down and picks up another and pages through it quickly. It is titled Moving Ahead.

We are moving ahead very rapidly now, through a second growth of poplar and birch, our faces scratched and our clothes torn by the underbrush. We are moving even faster now, marking the trail, followed closely by the bulldozers and crews with chain saws and representatives of the paper company.

Violence on Television

It is best to turn on the set only after all the stations have gone off the air and just watch the snowfall. This is the other life you have been promising yourself. Somewhere back in the woods, ten miles from the nearest town, and that just a wide place in the road with a tavern and a gas station. When you drive home, after midnight, half drunk, the roads are treacherous. And your wife is home alone, worried, looking anxiously out at the snow. This snow has been falling steadily for days, so steadily the snow plows can't keep up. So you drive slowly, peering down the road. And there? Did you see it? Just at the edge of your headlight beams, something, a large animal, or a man, crossed the road. Stop. There he is among the birches, a tall man wearing a white suit. No, it isn't a man. Whatever it is--it motions to you, an almost human gesture, then retreats farther into the woods. He stops and motions again. The snow is piling up all around the car. Are you coming?

1 comment:

Karen said...

You should cover a bulletin board with all of your Polaroids. I would sit and stare at it for ages.