Harold Jenkins, Spring•Summer 2017

Double Dig
Harold Jenkins

Break the surface with the pitchfork
shave off the sod with the spade
Five feet wide, fifteen feet long

Dig out the first row
one foot down, one foot long
put it in the wheelbarrow

Add compost to the trench
loosen the soil with the fork
try not to think about you

Dig out the second row
toss it into the first trench
incorporate air into the bed
increase porosity, improve drainage
think about the work

and not about all those years
all those “I love you”s
work the soil
the roots will dig even deeper
the weeds will pull out easier
focus on the work

not on all those hours, all those nights
the long drives, the moving van
study sessions and open mics
the sun is hot, halfway done
keep the rows even or the last one will be too big

Keep digging. Keep moving.
There will be rest after the work is done
after the soil from the wheelbarrow is tipped into the last trench
after the excess air is squeezed out with the digging board

I remember every word of every story
every line of every poem
Tomorrow the seedlings will go in
the seeds will be planted
but now, dig the soil
double dig, two layers down

Dig the garden, and forget about you
there will be time for remembering later


Harold Jenkins majored in physics and philosophy at the University of Scranton, where one professor struck through every line of his submission and then admitted she had no idea what a mayfly was anyway. He spent twenty years in industry before taking up writing again. In 2011 he joined the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers’ Collective at the Vintage Theater. With their encouragement he refined his skills as a short story writer and began writing poetry again, presenting his work at open mics throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. Many of his poems and short stories can be found on his blog, Another Monkey (anothermonkey.blogspot.com).

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2 thoughts on “Harold Jenkins, Spring•Summer 2017

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  1. Harold, I’m glad to hear you read your poem. I felt the poem when you read it. I am curious that most of the poem does not have punctuation. In the recording, you seemed to be reading as if it often did have punctuation that was, perhaps, implied. I have seen poems like this many times before and never really understood the poet’s intention.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great questions to ponder. There seem to be different strategies that vary between poets, or even between poems by the same writer. Sometimes, it’s the use of line breaks as a substitute for punctuation, and sometimes it seems an effort to imply more than one meaning to a line or stanza, a deconstruction if you will.

    I can’t speak for the poet here, but it’s fun to speculate just what he’s up to. Harold frequently leaves the commas as caesuras mid-line, as in “but now, dig the soil / double dig, two layers down”. But the only periods in the whole poem are in the line “Keep digging. Keep moving.” It seems as if he’s trying by that point to emphatically persuade himself to not think about the thoughts he cannot keep himself from coming back to. Otherwise, the lack of punctuation throughout makes me think that there is an implication of unendingness to his plight, or to the cycle of thoughts themselves perhaps. Intriguing technique.

    Thanks for the discussion. I’m thinking we need a podcast next.

    Liked by 1 person

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