Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

Spotlight: Selling Death / Bodies of Water

Selling Death

Even on 5th avenue, it costs money to die.
Especially if you die in a Taco Bell drive-through

or in the kitchenware aisle of Macy’s; it costs
money to die even if you flop down dead

in your own flower garden. I once chased a cat
into a bed of carnations and fell down in the scraggy

twigs, afraid of bees. I could have died but didn’t:
not enough money to. But back to the point: the dying.

Donald Rumsfeld said that death has a tendency
to encourage a depressing view of war. But why stop there?

Death has many tendencies. We’re selling death
short. But if you’ve got the money, why die

just once? I’d pay to die nine times—Think about how
many funerals you could throw with Meryl Streep’s

money. Get Eleven Madison Park to cater, buy
those fancy hand towels for the bathroom. But

will they think of the hand towels when they go
outside to get some air, hands still tingling

on the back porch, and the stars all turning
themselves on like the ends of ecigarettes?

Fuck the stars, they have no money. They live
to travel, and it takes so long. The real stars

are human and could pay to have their name
assigned to any orb of gas they’d like.


Bodies of Water

Erica says our bodies aren’t quite canyons,
aren’t lacks or voids where silt has slowly left us
inch by inch. But if not that, then our bodies
are just aquariums for grief. Our bodies are just
containers for material things like water or wine.
I make an appointment to see my doctor. I show her
my body and ask her questions about it.

They make machines to see inside our bodies.
I ask my doctor how much of me is water, how much
of me is salt. There is a way that the water can touch
everything. I have two hands but they keep nothing
inside me. I know that something hatches in the heart
on April nights when voices echo in the alleys.

Brett Elizabeth JenkinsBrett Elizabeth Jenkins lives, writes, and teaches in Saint Paul. Look for her work in Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, Potomac Review, Paper Darts, and elsewhere.

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