Map Readers and other works by Jean-Mark Sens


Jean-Mark Sens, born in France and educated in Paris, Jean-Mark has lived in the American South for over fifteen years, taught English at Rust College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of South Carolina. He has a MLIS from U.S.C. and holds degrees in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, and Paris VII University, as well as an Associate in Science in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales. Jean-Mark currently lives in Thibodaux, LA where he is Collection Development Librarian at Nicholls State University, and where he also taught culinary classes at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute as adjunct Chef. Jean-Mark's poetry has appeared in various magazines in the U.S. and Canada. Red Hen Press in California published his first collection Appetite (2004).




The plight of the pliers is to be held in one hand
in extension of catching and pulling
bird beak with one-eye rivet.
Closing/ opening crocodile jaws
pliers come after all acts to twist, snatch, extract.
A wire through a wall, a bend-head, beaten nail
snap, snap, snap, pliers pursue desires for repairs,
a prelapsarian state imagined before any home improvement ever started.
Pliers are cold dreams at the end of a sweat,
the ship surgeon's lie that it won't hurt.
Pliers swing from one hand to another
inquisitive, reaching further, touching deeper
pull of a string, rebel wire, slanted nut on a bolt,
ambidextrous tool, closing V of near victory,
legerdemain for a triumph: desire and disaster.


Map Readers

We arrived folded back in the glove compartment
eyes a bit strained, a bit cocked by the median
still running like a film spool after the last image trailing out at the end of a film.
Orange tungsten lights webbing a hood over the sky
barely a moon slit and a few perennial stars,
a high neon motel sign piercing in-we must be where the river elbows its note of blue night.
We folded accordion style our Southeastern side of the US in quarto,
silence of a glance from where miles run through crease folds of our laps
and map flipped over the whole journey's roadscape sealed to the width between two eyes
we inched out a quarter size of half continental US on our back.
We scaled down to tight darkness
till anew, slept and rested, we opened again
and followed a finger across our lines like a palmistry of travels.
What we foresee from departure to arrival is not of any disclosure,
a silent wedding of our love auction between planets and stars,
the cartographer's wife who left him for a printer,
boats at anchor in port nooks the coast ridge abandons to the imagination of their names
the ink too thin to decipher over the grim of salt and tide.
No intention is ours, no final destination we pertain,
we are blind passages, self disclaimers of all what happens
and may not happen outside our bounded borders and altered state lines dividing colors.