John Jenkinson
Other Poems by John Jenkinson

Snake Balls | Showdown

Below the rustling olive leaves
Andre bends his head close to the soundboard,
hunches like a shoemaker's apprentice
or a mapmaker charting new terrain.
The high strings drill their freezing rivulet
into a stony audience, chill
the smoky haze that twists,
ghostly, between the hand spaced trees.
From every tricky fugue, from each ornate
fandango with an Arabic devotion
to the minor keys, he's stolen
some hard kernel which he sows
into those furrows blind winds
gouge in darkening air.

His mother and his daughter still aspire
to taste Grenada's concert season,
to spread like blossoms on the velvet plush,
awash in rhapsody and gilt
as Andre tenders his guitar, not like a woman
asleep in his arms, but like a pet
that growls between the notes.
As sundown sinks into the stone
walled common well,
the village women congregate.
There must be a tune for how they mill,
purring rumors and romances
while they smother in their families
and tend their bearded bands of tinkling goats.

Andre shuts his eyes against a world
of callused hands, of scythes and shovels,
of cuttings down and buryings,
as if the concert hall his fingertips
imagine thrills in tandem
with the well's cool water
or the obsidian eyes these gypsy women
roll against his tonic resolutions.
His last full notes attenuate as evening's
birds rehearse the slightest touch
of light on feather, serenade
his mother's black-clad figure dipping water,
the sunset slipping from her arm
or fading fret to fret across his daughter.

John Jenkinson earned his MFA at Wichita State University and his PhD at the University of North Texas. Author of two chapbooks (with a third forthcoming), John recently served as Milton Center Fellow in Poetry at Newman University.

John is a past winner of an AWP Intro Award. His poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including American Literary Review, The Georgia Review, Grasslands Review, Green Mountains Review, and Quarterly West.

John currently teaches literature and creative writing at Butler County Community College.

All contents copyright The New Journal, 2001.