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The State of the Economy
Louis Jenkins


There might be some change on top of the dresser at the
back, and we should check the washer and the dryer. Check
under the floor mats of the car. The couch cushions. I have
some books and CDs I could sell, and there are a couple big
bags of aluminum cans in the basement, only trouble is that
there isnít enough gas in the car to get around the block. Iím
expecting a check sometime next week, which, if we are careful,
will get us through to payday. In the meantime with your oneó
dollar rebate check and a few coins we have enough to walk to
the store and buy a quart of milk and a newspaper. On second
thought, forget the newspaper.

From Sea Smoke (Holy Cow Press, 2004)


Louis Jenkins (1942 - 2019) was a native of Oklahoma, but lived in Duluth, Minnesota, for 40+ years. The state's natural beauty was a constant source of inspiration for his work, which was often humorous and always thought-provoking. Considered a master of prose poetry, Louis authored sixteen books and was featured in numerous anthologies. He claimed that pleasure, clarity, and empathy are among the most essential characteristics of a poem.




Post New Comment:
I enjoyed the poem, but what I most appreciated was the statement in his bio "Louis says that pleasure, clarity, and empathy are among the most essential characteristics of a poem." Amen, brother.
Posted 05/22/2011 11:32 AM
mary haswell:
I think in this day you would have to skip the milk also!
Posted 05/22/2011 10:43 AM
Gary Busha:
Should be "poetry by definition." Sorry.
Posted 05/22/2011 08:09 AM
Gary Busha:
Traditionally, poetry be definition needed metaphors and similes. Today much of "poetry" is prose in poetic format. That's what a purist would argue. For me, the dramatic monologue is a prose poem, often. In the end, it's the message, idea, emotion that matters. In Jenkins' piece it's the economy on a smaller scale compared to the larger.
Posted 05/22/2011 08:08 AM
Donal Mahoney:
Although not an admirer of the prose poem as a format, I can hear "poetry" in these lines. I see also how it would have been fairly easy, from my perspective, to cast these lines in the traditional flush left, ragged right format, and I am curious to know why the author (or any prose poet) would choose the "prose" look instead. In defense of the prose format, I can see how the casual tone of the poem combined with fairly weighty subject matter might lend itself more to a prose format. But I remain ignorant as to the reason for the prose poem format and hope some day to read why some writers prefer it. As an outsider, I also wonder if the "prose poem" is actually more "prose verse" instead. I say all of this out of honest curiosity and not anything snide or derogatory. Donal Mahoney
Posted 05/22/2011 06:40 AM

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