Charles Jensen

Matin with Warnings

The city’s breath is the white noise
of an unseen freeway

A nervous foghorn in the bay
moans of calamity

Birds’ urgent chips as though accused
of crimes they didn’t commit

One car alarm gloats in response,
They’re coming for you.

What will the wren say when
the black cat kisses it whole

One dog coughs at the air
offensive with scent

Cars of commuters sluicing the block
shush these morning sounds

The humans inside lost in thoughts,
dressed in their finest silence



The Joy of Gay Sex
          an erasure


The townspeople see you
and recognize you.

Men in dim rooms—
you’re just a scout. Cases of gossip.
Traveling to other countries is exotic.

Local sexual experiences become
friends. Americans find safety rife
with pickpockets. Locals are instant others,

like yourself.



Undoing political sex practices:
literature about Dr. Pepper,
doors in San Francisco,
the death toll from fatally large cities.

Find yourself
in rooms containing nothing else.

Sometimes old movies
can be boring.

Even diseases
should be saying no.



“Human” does not mean
we want respectability.

Someone can long for complications
and be fatherly, assertive;
childlike, passive;
open, cheerful;
confiding, complex;
impersonal, anonymous; animal.

Men secretly believe the joke
is a source of pain. If a man begins
to crush his gentle lovers,
he may not be good for you.



A job is considered demeaning.

Jobs are reputed to have
exaggerated capital. Men,

indifferent and hostile,
will accept a job.

A good job should be the subtle
yet complete control of man.



Caesar’s virility
was a coin. Treasure is but one
form of the human body.

Men suspect society
is a sexual decade. Chastity is
a sophisticated variety of jewelry
made of cocks.

Men will be the instrument
of pain.



Certain men claim
your mouth is
an open sore.



Charles Jensen (he/him) wrote Splice of Life: A Memoir in 13 Film Genres, forthcoming in May 2024 from Santa Fe Writer’s Project. His most recent collection of poetry is Instructions between Takeoff and Landing. His previous books include two collections of poetry and seven chapbooks of cross-genre work. The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs designated him a 2019-2020 Cultural Trailblazer, and he is the recipient of the 2020 Outwrite Nonfiction Chapbook Award, 2018 Zócalo Poetry Prize, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, the 2007 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, and an Artist’s Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. His poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner, and essays have appeared in 45th Parallel, American Literary Review, Exposition Review, The Florida Review, and Passages North. He founded the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explored creative work on a city-by-city basis. He hosts The Write Process, a podcast in which one writer tells the story of crafting one work from concept to completion. He lives in Long Beach and directs the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension.