After midnight Woodland Avenue is quiet for the most part, an occasional car and then a motorcycle winding up, going way too fast. Someone drunk with love or the lack thereof, drunk with speed, with despair or joie de vivre, someone young and immortal, stalking death. “Live fast, love hard, die young and leave a beautiful memory.” But memory is short, not much more than the day after tomorrow. So go ahead then, I say, take some innocent bystanders out with you— passion is over in an eyeblink, whether you die or live.
The neighbor is playing loud country western music and his dog is barking, yap, yap, yap…. I could go talk with him, I could say, listen we could be friends we probably have some things in common, but I know you are busy, you’ve got a family and a business to run so you don’t have time for that, but at least we can be good neighbors. If I make too much noise or park, blocking your driveway, you could tell me and I would understand, and I’d do the same for you, thus life goes on…. I could do that, but instead I yell across the street. Shut up that fuckin’ dog! And it works.
There is a beautiful young woman behind the counter and for no apparent reason she gives me a smile that is devastating. It is a smile that is like the sunlight coming through the heavy clouds and turning the surface of the water all glittery silver. It is a smile that says anything is possible, that I am the one she has been waiting for, that I am 25 again. I think she must be the most cruel person on the planet. She puts her hand under mine as she gives me my change, and all I can say is “oh my heart”.
Louis Jenkins’ most recent book is Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems, from Will o’ the Wisp books, 2013. He and Mark Rylance, actor and former director of the Globe Theatre, London, co-wrote a stage production titled Nice Fish, based on Mr. Jenkins' poems. The play premiered April 6, 2013 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and ran through May 18, 2013.