Marlin M. Jenkins

anxiety attack in a public university bathroom stall

i’m paranoid      everyone wants            to kill
me      well             at least        we have found
common ground           i want                 to kill
me too     do you want to help?      this can be
a collaborative project                     something
we can do together         be united        i guess
i’ve become           especially scared of people
lately                   but hey                 let’s plunge
the knife  together       call it solidarity   call it
ally-ship   call it abraham      on the mountain
doing the will of god                 but neglecting
the final instruction              i learned sacrifice
early       learned hate early           hate myself
often         it’s a viscous circle            maybe if
i flush myself            they’ll never       find me
someone hears my gasping sobs      walks up
to the stall door      knocks    asks        hey man
you alright?
and i almost  say          naw    bruh
but          i’ll open the door        if           you want
a brown body         to use            as target practice
except for the tremors         i promise i’ll stay still

anxiety attack trying to remember the word for fear of irregular groupings of holes

this time the ceiling
opening dark spots
worms again fall
through onto the bed 
mingle with bed bugs
that aren’t really there

but still the itch feels 
like some microscopic
eating away at skin
growing openings
irregular everywhere

you ever want to just
scrape all your skin
off just all of it because
there can’t be holes
in what’s not there 
can’t itch what doesn’t 
exist maybe just get rid 
of it all with a knife 
or a potato peeler or 
my own nails or maybe 
there’s a way to make 
a single incision and boil 
myself so it’s all off at once

the whole thing detached
and whole and all of it
smooth and even and even
and even

Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit, and studied poetry in University of Michigan’s MFA program. His writings have been given homes by The Collagist, Four Way Review, The Journal, and Bennington Review, among others. He is an editor for HEArt Online, and you can find him on Twitter @Marlin_Poet.