Oct/Nov 1998 Spotlight

Five Poems

by JeanPaul Jenack



there was a sign a mile back or maybe
two along this road we saw it didn't
read it but knew it was there knew it was
enough to keep us rolling down this road

wasn't the first one won't be the last one
we've passed by & didn't let slow us down
a moment forward motion is its own
reward a traveling revelation

(not the "give us a sign" kind) offspring of
a marriage between asphalt & rubber
by-product of internal combustion
detroit dead dinosaurs & extinction

could be a bridge out ahead a detour
we didn't plan for yet the pedal's to
the metal we're getting there yes indeed
hell yes & a lot sooner than we think


lose the umbrella

elemental solutions exist.
iron your skin with wind and rain:
like a panhandler, accept change.

left twisting in the wind, think
of Chubby Checkers
and dance. in the blue death

of sad recall, comedy & tragedy -
those spastic tango partners -
never fail to miss a beat, to

tread on those
of photographic memory.
empty your drawers, ignore

weather reports, be instead
the weather.


Steel Wheels

Fruitlessly pursued
by a broken church on cheap skates
the ticking of steel wheels
an echo out of the poor box
before and behind

Too late, the sinner
defined by concentric circles
of pagan white noise
hip-hopping along
the naked river's edge

Oh where are you going
my darling young one?
Life's not a clock, a knife
or a stained glass window
we're all just photons

And who's got time
in this last spring morning sun
to repent
the commission
or the omission

With the pavement waving
and hot as hell
and a blue-eyed girl with hissing roller
blades and short-shorts
looking like my demon lover?


Undertow, 1961

Uncle Joe sat
on his too-small towel
on the Jones Beach sand
with his farmer tan and
a can of coke.
A kindly man, he
looked me straight in the eye,
said "Don't worry
about the waves -
they'll knock you about a bit -
but you'll be okay.
No, it ain't waves
that'll get you . . .
it's the undertow."
He gave a throaty laugh,
and took a last drag
on one of the camels
that later did him in.
Then he took my grateful
five-year-old hand
and led me through
a maze of bodies and blankets
down to the water's edge.


Varieties of Religious Experience

The Medieval funambulist dances
on a rope strung high between two churches
above the village square. People gather,

forget for a moment going rates for barley,
grain, eggs, turn their eyes upward as one.
The funambulist takes a step two three

suddenly wheels on one heel and leaps upward,
head thrown back, arms flung out wide an angel
come to light. The crowd gasps, sees him safely

down again as hoots and cheers fill the square.
The priests, awash in sacramental wine,
applaud their churches' glorification.

A lone beggar, empty bowl in hand, turns,
says softly "it's not the architecture
brings us closer to our god, it's the man."


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