Mark Allen Jenkins

Forklift Tattoo

Sitting in this small, torn, vinyl seat
I keep staring at my blank bicep,
thinking about a drunken promise
to needle an emblem of my work on it:
a yellow and black forklift in a comet flame,
racing to another waiting semi.

But will I always think so highly of a forklift?
The variety of lumber lifted daily,
the skid of shingles shoved
into the back of so many pickups.
How many times have I felt the back wheels lift off
the ground as I set a twelve-foot stack
of drywall on the top rack.

I know that slow moment between fluidity and caution,
the sudden explosion of a load dropped
crashing to the ground.
Why do I know that there are 294 boards
in a bunk of 2 X 4s,
that there are 42 bags on a concrete pallet?
Why do I have so much extra time
to ask these questions, to imagine

this symbol of another loathed job on my arm?
Something half forgotten
yet forever emblazoned,
to show that I know what work is
and the importance of putting my feet up
on the dashboard to wait for the next truck.


Mark Allen Jenkins is currently a PhD student in Humanities with a Creative Writing Focus at the University of Texas at Dallas where he serves as Editor-in-Chief for Reunion: Te Dallas Review. His poetry has appeared in Memorious, minnesota review, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere.