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The Afterlife
by
Louis Jenkins


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Older people are exiting this life as if it were a movie… "I didn’t get it,"
they are saying.
He says, "It didn’t seem to have any plot."
"No." she says, "it seemed like things just kept coming at me. Most of the
time I was confused… and there was way too much sex and violence."
"Violence anyway," he says.
"It was not much for character development either; most of the time
people were either shouting or mumbling. Then just when someone started
to make sense and I got interested, they died. Then a whole lot of new
characters came along and I couldn’t tell who was who."
"The whole thing lacked subtlety."
"Some of the scenery was nice."
"Yes."
They walk on in silence for a while. It is a summer night and they walk
slowly, stopping now and then, as if they had no particular place to go.
They walk past a streetlamp where some insects are hurling themselves at
the light, and then on down the block, fading into the darkness.
She says, "I was never happy with the way I looked."
"The lighting was bad and I was no good at dialogue," he says.
"I would have liked to have been a little taller," she says.

 

From North of the Cities (Will o’ the Wisp Books, 2007) © Louis Jenkins.
Used with the author’s permission.

 

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

 

Louis Jenkins is a native of Oklahoma, but has lived in Duluth, Minnesota, for the past 30+ years. Considered a master of prose poetry, he is the author of more than a dozen award-winning books and has been featured in numerous anthologies. Louis's most recent book is Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems, from Will o’ the Wisp books. Recently, he and Mark Rylance, actor and former director of the Globe Theatre in London, co-wrote a stage production entitled Nice Fish, based on one of Louis's poems. The play premiered April 6, 2013 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and ran for nearly six weeks. Louis believes that pleasure, clarity, and empathy are among the most essential characteristics of a poem.  

 


New comments are closed for now.
wordluvr5513:
I can't stop reading this! Imagine if the world read this poem and actually "got it"...
Posted 08/28/2014 02:03 PM
jtmilford:
A terrific poem about our usual life. Thanks
Posted 08/28/2014 11:46 AM
ghctenmile@earthlink.net:
I love this. Thanks so much for publishing it.
Posted 08/25/2014 04:28 PM
Mary Lou Taylor:
Kept me reading right to the end.
Posted 08/25/2014 02:00 PM
mimi:
uh oh...sounds pretty believable--love it!
Posted 08/25/2014 01:32 PM
peninsulapoet:
Terrific.
Posted 08/25/2014 09:57 AM
Sherry:
Most prose poems that I have read were not at all good. I really like Mr. Jenkins, though. Good job, and it's amusing, too. Every poem tells a story.
Posted 08/25/2014 08:04 AM
phebe.davidson@gmail.com:
Noone tops Jenkins at this!
Posted 08/25/2014 05:39 AM
Katrina:
This is interesting. A friend of mine was talking about the pre-verbal phase we may be taken to when our contemporaries make their exits. It may be proverbial, (or maybe it's just a timing difference). Verbs - what a to do! Thank you, Louis (and Jayne) for giving me an entrance to prose poetry.
Posted 08/25/2014 05:34 AM
rhonasheridan:
To comment on my 'comment'. My. I-pad seems determined to make me use either lit or lily! Sorry. Lit should be 'it' and the other one does not exist! But I do love that poem.
Posted 08/25/2014 01:02 AM
rhonasheridan:
Oh yes, I love story-poems. I have suddenly started writing them myself. They are very rewarding to write. We have a wonderful language - with a natural lilt to lit, and this one is a beauty. Thank you for it. lily
Posted 08/25/2014 12:56 AM
Ross Kightly:
So good to see a prose poem given some space! A marvellously flexible form if used with the subtlety we see here! Many thanks to all concerned!
Posted 08/25/2014 12:48 AM
David Alpaugh:
No need to say A IS B or A is LIKE B. The structural metaphor here is immediately active, effective, poignant, powerful. Wonderful poem.
Posted 08/24/2014 11:38 PM


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