Jess Jenkins

A Biography

203 Brown Drive
A metal coin in the grass
houses pipes. I jump on it
and the ring goes underground.
I count to 8. One spring I
was given a basket of ducklings.
I can only speak to their softness.
Cousins sit on the limestone
outcrop. I pretend it is a bus, a blue
whale. I am standing on the
spiral stairs, waiting for traffic to
clear. My legs are too short
so I climb down sitting, quickly.
HC 37 BOX 288A
Gently running my finger
along the lips of a fly trap.
Closes slowly, interlocking
teeth grin. I pour the water
from pitcher plants. The
kitchen floor fell through
today, you must walk across
this board to go to the bathroom.
The sink goes nowhere. When I
brush my teeth I run down the
back patio steps and see my
spit in the dead brown grass.
127 Crane Ave.
The kids on the avenue don’t
live on the avenue. They live
in fences on leashes, in
trailers across the tracks in
Ohio. A neighbor girl is
two feet tall, she lives in a
modified carnival fun-house.
We play house. I’m mom.
I make her eat onion grass from
the cat bowl. There is a hole in
the sidewalk. In green chalk below
I wrote “put your money here.”
1212 Piney Glen Lane
The cul-de-sac is a sack of
spider eggs, her children multiply
and leave on roller blades, thousands
a day. This house is pre-fab, like
Sears catalog homes after WWI.
Hurricane Gordon dragged in
garden lattice, lodged it in sand
dunes. An ivy of tricycles and
food paper grew. I met
Tequila in my art class.
I showed her how to tie shoes,
how to draw a sitting rabbit.
312 Echols Lane
Her neighbor’s son works on
a fishing boat in Alaska. She
asks about him. He returns, fat
bearded, jolly in his 30’s. The piano
has been out of tune since my
mother was 16, that’s 26 years.
She shows me tin pictures of men
I don’t know, of women who look
like me, living in the bombe chest.
In March, I find a blue plastic egg
outside, from the Easter before,
inside are 2 quarters.
Extnd Stay Holiday Inn
Hotel wall art can be
a thing of beauty, what a
nice gesture, the floral, the bible.
We have wet pasta from styrofoam.
I learn to like the peppers from
pizza boxes. I leave notes for the Jamaican housekeeper, Zola.
Zola is well. Zola is working to
bring her son to Minneapolis.
I write my name in pen on the
wall behind the picture of the
stream and the tree above the bed.
Aztec Pines Apartments
The red squirrel society is
currently closed to new members.
Cashews are no use, I can’t
touch them. The men that live
here carry lofty electronics,
drive company cars. The
tumbleweeds are true-to-life,
run like they are looking for
Buffalo. I stand in pueblo places,
in cliff dwellings in red rocks. My
brother falls in a corner, needs stitches.
We lost the deposit for the bloodstain.
Foggy Bottom Farm
The boots cost little more
than 400 dollars. I approximate
that I must shovel 2 tons of
horse shit to make that.
The minipony from the
neighbor’s pasture brays at
my bedroom window, wanting
apples. The ex-wife burned
the house to its stones, the
antiques with it. Her sister-
hood is horse wine, alimony,
Italian-owned Laundromats
5 Rooms in Lawyer Country
His wife died in the dining
room. The respirator left a
sunspot in the corner, I
cover it with a magazine rack.
The bricks collect like
pennies, the years stamped
on them. The greenhouse –
12 sq. ft. of poison oak and garlic.
I find his origami on the basement shelves, his pottery, two clay
chess armies nestled in newspaper shreds in an old tangelo box.
Live in Boyfriend
The heat gets to this house.
It melts in the day. Once every
5 hours the train opens
the doors, dislodges the plumbing.
The tub is an open mouth
with a bird’s feet. It swallows me
whole, unless I stopper it.
Raccoon junkie hoards the
neighbors’ poppy varieties, he says.
I find 17 California license
plates below the sink, replace them
with the Book of Mormon.
It is the season of doing, of giving
and going, of 23 stairs to
one third rent along with the
lights of the city, it’s screaming.
Again, there is no floor, but a trampoline of fabric from which
we mine small pieces of bronze,
seven pronged copper stars, clear
amethyst, clear, yellow gold, yellow
lights and cabinet paper, small flowers.
Once, I open the door to a roommate
scraping liver pate onto Wonderbread.


Jess Jenkins is 21. She is recently graduated from the University of Iowa and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at The University of Arizona. She’s lived in many different places but calls Southern West Virginia home. This is her first significant publication.