Marlin M. Jenkins

Pokédex Entry #260: Swampert

Swampert predicts storms by sensing subtle differences in the sounds of waves and tidal winds with its fins. If a storm is approaching, it piles up boulders to protect itself.


This time it’s Milwaukee.

An official says, “Our city is in turmoil

Someone is dead and the gas
station is on fire.

I still want to believe
in non-violence—I do.

But I know it’s not
that simple. I know I will

start seeing it again: the posts
online about MLK and non-violence.

I know King said, too, that
“a riot
is the language of the unheard.


what is it that America has failed
to hear?”

The official says tonight, as if
it has not always been.

Tomorrow it may be D.C.,
or St. Louis, or Detroit. May be
the block I grew up on

engulfed in the cries of what we are
trying to say through fire and broken

glass. This time,

they say the suspect held a stolen
semi-automatic. But it’s not about

this time. It’s not about the brick
and bullet but the pieces of concrete
and metal spinning in the constant

That is not just tonight. Not just in one
city. And as it rages: I admit I do not know

how to protect myself.

I know I could just as easily be the subject,
suspect, the one in the line of fire


the fire. I cannot feel the approach
of each
individual storm

but I know more are coming.
But it is because the winds
and waves have not changed.

Not much,
at least.

I don’t have the strength
to pile boulders
to protect myself. Not by myself,

at least. No bunker,

even, would protect from the current
fire trying its damndest to connect
with the molten rock even at the core of the Earth.

The storm is both approaching
and here. Tonight.

Pile the boulders. We may need
them, for both protection

and to push, our collective
weight against stone

the only weapon we have,

the boulders rolling with a roar
as loud as the storm itself,

a voice, at least, to rise above
how this country has failed

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.