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Hypothetical Antipodes, Judgment

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Hardly any of me is solid any more, I mean I buy
things every day.
And there comes a time when I am feeling
as windblowed as the apples
in the Shenandoah.
And there goes I who then again began
tho what does this Mrs. Begin?
(she says I am)

And cast down me wretched
sinner unto thee I am
slightly different from
a corpse at a funeral
in that I am less made up
but made up worse.

Who I thereby did appoint myself
but forgot which was mirror.
I stand stabbed with wrench piss
rabid at the counter
matter of things in the room
with which I

Somewheres crossed up in hot
antartic mountains
they live backwards together.

Whose feet then were backwards
whose feet were needing shoes
so badly in 1964 that millions
virtual millions of shoes were
sent to “Appalachia Virginia”
for they were too poor—“backward.”
America glared haughtily at
local shoe burnings that Christmas.

But I’m not antarctical
nor hypo

My mind gleams like the fangs
of a viper in white heat
dying to sink my teeth into
the throat of something wrong.

Philip Jenks, “Hypothetical Antipodes, Judgment” from On the Cave You Live In. Copyright 2002 by Philip Jenks. Reprinted with the permission of Flood Editions.
Source: On the Cave You Live In (Flood Editions, 2002)
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Hypothetical Antipodes, Judgment

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  • The son of an Episcopalian minister, Philip Jenks was born in North Carolina and grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia. He earned a BA from Reed College, an MA in creative writing from Boston University, and a PhD in political science from the University of Kentucky. His books of poetry include On the Cave You Live In (2002), My First Painting Will Be “The Accuser” (2005), Disappearing Address (2010, with Simone Muench), and Colony Collapse Metaphor (2014); and the chapbooks How Many of You Are You? (2006), and Little Visceral Carnival (2009, with Simone Muench).
    In response to Jenks’s poem “Untitled” (“My pinhole weighs a ton”), poet Dan Beachy-Quick commented, “In Jenks’s work, the bewildering ways in which absence presents itself in word and image, and how presence absents itself by the same means, is poetry’s work.” In a review of On the Cave You Live In, Jon Curley noted, “Jenks coalesces his themes around language...

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