Marlin M. Jenkins

Psalm regarding the Young Man’s Hands

LORD to be honest I am not certain
you know the story: the young man
sat, back against the wall, with the boy
in front of him. He reached the hand
forward, down to the boy’s
groin, then gripped as the boy
watched out the room’s door, down the hall,
to a glass door where snow fell
outside. O LORD, did you see
this as it happened in your temple—
what teachers and pastors do not
see? Did you hear the young man
before as he spoke to the boy
in the bathroom? O we have learned
love from how you’ve let us
feel it. The two sat against that wall
like friends on sled—you set
the sled in motion down the hill
and turned away as they descended
down, down, crashed into tree, perhaps
so far down that you failed
to hear the boy scream.

Overrun by fish

Imagine the lake floods
and fish overtake the house.
They enter through the broken
windows and rub silver scales
against computer screen,
stretch their mouths in the reflection
of television, flick business cards
with their tails. They swim

between the bars of the crib
still in the nursery,
never used. Gills reflect
on genderless walls, illuminate
the ultrasounds taped up:
grey, formless images.

Catfish and carp start
in the basement, but soon populate
every room; they move
in un-named patterns, suck
up the last of everything:
houseplants, appliances,
golf clubs, steak knives. They attach
themselves to bed frame and headboard.
They lay eggs in the sheets.


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