in the high desert of SE California.
Published in numerous journals, he also has six chapbooks to his
name. with the Patience of Monuments is his first full length
collection of poetry. Jack Henry is the
pen name of Thomas Kenney.
“Jack Henry marches across the desert with one eye on the
ground and one on the Beat heavens, unafraid of his own pain or humiliation, fearful
for our communal future. Continuing the great tradition of American poetry that
runs from Whitman through McKay and Ginsberg and Bukowski, he prefers the raw
to the cooked, the unborn to the dead, and roads with little signage.”
- Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers,
Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America (FSG)
ISBN 978-0-9819984-2-8 156 pages $16.95 5.5"x8.5" perfect bound, paper
"Jack Henry's writing is the real deal. No bullshit, no
posing. This is essential American literature."
- Tony O'Neill, author/poet,
Down and Out on Murder Mile (Harper
“Jack Henry slammed me in the face.
I have always admired Jack’s writing, his fearless self-revelations combined
with a world-view that is equal parts jaded and hopeful. What knocked me off my
feet in his first full-length collection, with the patience of monuments, is
the way he turns himself inside out, and then goes down a little deeper, moves
in a bit closer, and, just as you think he’s in for the kill, suddenly…a gentle
word, a line so of such graceful beauty you get, well, slammed in the face.
Great writing always includes the element of surprise, whether it’s a sucker punch
or a spiked drink. This is a book that opens with the line:
a single note destroyed me
tells us who he is and who he’s not in the second poem (very next breath)
perhaps i’m like Jesus during those middle years and, further on, there’s a chance i am just a
mirror broken on the floor in a symphony
of single shards thereby introducing the underlying spiritual/religious theme, and the
overlying one, in which he provides a mirror not only into his own soul but
into the reader’s. Looking deeply into the mirror is where I got slammed in the
face and started to bleed; where I recognized the need in myself to gather the
courage to throw myself onto the page like a maniac bungee jumper, no net, only
a belief and love of the process and a little bit of faith in the outcome.
Part of the uniqueness of the work is the brilliance of the surprise. Airport
meetings, commuter bus fucks, Speak East Taverns, bitter circus, and, right in
the mix, the sweet fragility of lives lived with love (absolved of nothing but trying):
take her hand, kiss her, make her blush with a particular whisper, one have that is only for her…
It took several readings before I finished the collection. I had to stop,
absorb, and bandage a few new bruises. Anybody can write about someone else,
anybody can even write about themselves, dancing along surfaces filled with
imagery and amusement. I was overcome with the journey into self, which shoved
me, hard, into myself.
This is a book you need to hold in your hands, feel the weight of the man who
lives within; it is not an e-book or a kindle or a flickering screen. I am
going to do that wearing a little less body armor and a deeper understanding of
why we do this at all.
Maybe somewhere there is still “a
bookstore on Bleecker Street” and we can celebrate as Jack does:
on Sunday we went to a cathedral, ate church in the back row, sang songs by the Ramones when everybody knelt to pray…
- Puma Perl, Belinda and her Friends (Erbacce Press)
"If all the drug deals, pawnshop exchanges, and
alley-way beatitudes could find their confessional booth, With The Patience of
Monuments might be the stenographer's transcript. This book is not for the
innocent, unless it is their time for initiation. Herein you will find an
infested wooden rollercoaster tempting tragedies, the eyes of New Orleans'
gargoyles always watching, the light at the end of a sewer tunnel, a priest
shooting dope. In his intro, Jack Henry, responding to the fact that his editor
called his book "religious" or "spiritual", plaintively
states, "...it's a tax write-off and I can piss off another priest."
However, in one poem, Jack Henry states that he does not piss on "the back
walls of a sacred place." The sacred erupts within the profane in this
collection, and vice versa, but both are respected by a poet who does not
write, by his own admittance, to get into heaven or into hell, or to get out of
either one of them."
- Joe Milford, poet/writer,
host, the joe milford radio show
"Many contemporary poets appear to hide behind the
façade of “poetic language”, using this subjective brand of tongue to provide
abundance of unnecessary metaphor and to conjure within the reader a brand of
reality irrelevant to the rising actuality enveloping absolute existence. Jack
Henry is no such poet. His language reveals a reality based on the existential
definition of self-made milieu, providing avenues of his visited and revisited
happenstance to be italicized in an antiquated world of the quotidian humdrum.
“With the Patience of Monuments” declares that this poet is a being of
awareness, aware of core human emotions, both the delightful and scornful, and
excavates even further an emotional read from those interlocking their vision
with the images ascending from the page: “i no longer move / when your words /
cry, when your squalor / rises and steals your breath, / when the abyss bridges
/ front to back and lies / become the fodder / of a morning meal.
This collection will become a grand standard of poetry for subsequent poets
wishing to attach to humans’ proclaimed universal emotions, and thus, defining
itself within the conceptual reality that Henry acts as a reflectional base of
an utmost observer of the human condition."
- Felino Soriano,
Apperceptions of Reinterpretations (Calliope
"jack henry's large heart, a veteran of wars, accidents, fears, madness,
disillusion, is, in these 80 different dance halls of image and sound, breaking
invisible bread with jesus as the latter downs his meds with shots of tequila,
while on the corner of 6th and Los Angeles streets the meteor of hope has
crashed into Obama's tag team and the churches of the sky are rolling across
clouds of Charlie Parker's smoke.
jack henry is a knight, vassal, cowboy, dancer, fortune teller who sometimes
can't find his crystal ball, but eventually discovers his eyes, ears, and heart
are more powerful than atomic weapons and paranoia.
the guards of everything may feel they know his name, but there are rooms
inside his music that they will never be able to access. if castles do fall in
each pause, motion, which is jack's nickname, builds a new front porch made of
sway, and dreams that are matinees in old theaters suddenly become crisp new
lucid prints forever being viewed in the moment of our attempted lives.
jack henry finally is an ongoing process and this collection of visions,
memory, hope, pain, and kickass music, will see you through to your own morning
where little birds sing and ring with great enthusiasm, and the dead woman in
the corner of a rich man's eyes will ride again across the landscape of jack's
- Scott Wannberg,
Strange Movie Full of Death, (Perceval
“Jack Henry’s poetry is very much engaged with life and not
scared to address issues that many of us prefer not to talk about. Many of the
poems bring us encounters with people who are often overlooked by poets. There
are many poems here about Los Angeles, its bookshops and pawn shops, churches,
liquor stores and rivers. Poems about family, love lost and re-found,
connections made, addiction, need and unemployment, US and world politics. He
is sometimes angry, as in three lines in:
if you buried yourself
into a mound of red ants you might understand feeling
though he can also be lyrical as in N’Orleans
houses where ghosts play
cards and remember through
trees whispering on
forgotten wind Spanish
moss plays gentle
tricks on my thoughts
A lot of the poems are full of rich detail such as the bookstore on Bleeker Street:
she had a one-eyed cat with a bent tail and Tourettes
syndrome that ate tuna from the can and old artichoke hearts on a
Jesus appears in many of these poems, and in Jesus of Los Angeles has his own
series of poems and he could be anyone, which is of course the point.
This is not poetry for those of a nervous disposition or those who are easily
offended but I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone else.
- Juliet Wilson, poet/writer/editor, Bolts of Silk
If you know the work of Jack Henry, then there is no point
me trying to sound intelligent with a fancy ass review of his new full length
book—with the Patience of Monuments because you will buy it anyway, and if you
don’t know Jack’s poetry—the question is why not?
I will say I read through 137 pages of insight and passion
set to the page as poetry. The only thing better would have been to hear him
read it. I can’t put a finger on a favorite, there are too many. And with the
diversity of this collected work, it may just depend on the mood of the reader
at any given time. This is the kind of book I will pick up and discover
something new with each read. So, pulling out a quote or two to illustrate his
talent would be an injustice to the rest of the book.
- Scot Young, poet/writer/editor,
Outsider Writers/Rusty Truck/Deuce Coupe
patience of monuments", Jack Henry takes his unique style and propels
it skywards. To read him, is to read a life lived with all its softness and all
its brutalities. Raging truth in verse that steeps is a hallmark, as is the
single note destroyed me As easily as Hitler destroyed
from Em or F# on a slide trombone.
His descriptions can be lush and seductive as in N’orleans mornings:
"Spanish moss plays gentle tricks on my thoughts you, me velvet kisses stolen before gargoyle eyes where my hands rest gentle upon supple curve linger through moments …"
But suddenly we are pushed out of the doors of a seducing dreamscape:
"she’s alive and screaming"
As the author acknowledges in the forward, the struggle with
religious-spiritualism is a linchpin of the collection. In sublimation he
explores historic social stereotypes and landmark discrimination in describing
a 50’s suburban housewife, a black man working as a porter, circa 1963, and a
gay man cuffed at Stonewall, there is one more ‘sublimation’:
am Christ on the cross, wind in my hair women at my feet, crying and
chanting, waiting on a spear of a Roman soldier, watching the
sun drift across the sky, waiting for eternity, wondering if
returning might not be an option, wishing I had taken more time,
but knowing that destiny is not mine
nor will it be."
This may well be the quintessential image of this stunning
collection. Beautiful verse philosophically ruminations on meaning as seen
through the eyes of a knowing, weathered self. This is a richness that pours
like aged bourbon, burning and coating as it slides down into your very core.
- Connie Stadler,
Paper Cuts (Calliope Nerve)
"Jack Henry steps beyond the page in his newest collection of poetry. In
the forward to with the patience of monuments he speaks of the thread that
holds the book together, and in his poems he is Christ and Pilate and the spear
thrust between his own ribs all at once. In one of the first poems of the
collection he claims “…i’m no Ezra Pound” but he comes close poem after poem.
In the poem “three lines in” I can almost hear him screaming the lines at his
computer screen after another failed attempted to mimic rhyme schemes and
pastural verse has found its way into his inbox or onto his bookshelf for
approval. The love poems hidden in the pages of this collection are a kiss full
of sour-mash and cigarettes that linger on your lips long after the cover is
closed. These poems are a desert fairytale, a siren’s song, a bum’s final
words, a whore’s spread legs, a discarded needle, a lie whispered in the dark.
These poems a reminder of my own addictions."
- Gail Kelley, poet/writer
"Jack Henry writes with a measured authority. It’s
about time that this authority stretched itself across a large body of work.
Writing like this comes along infrequently and that, makes it all the more
valuable. Henry writes at times like a driven machine, pumping the right words
out at the right times and in the right order. What is it that they say about
the best poetry being the best words in the best order…?"
- Dr. Andrew Taylor,
co-editor and publisher, erbacce and
"Jack Henry has hit a nerve, a human one that runs through all of us
whether we like it or not. Henry Miller once wrote that the only journey worth
taking was the one that goes inside, that delves into our own nasty miasma and
pokes, prods, reveals who we really are. Jack goes there. There is so much
humanity in most of his poems that it is hard to read in one sitting, rather, a
reader needs to fill the double shot-glass with Jack, swig him down, let him
blur the vision and pump the gonads, then go back for more. His plain verse and
honest expressions are part of a building wave in the poetic world, the real
crashing over the effete, the brutal sawing at the pretend, and Jack is right
there, the biting end of that tsunami. If you are writhing in your own barbed
wire and want company, buy the book. We can all twist together."
- David E. Oprava,
publisher, Grievous Jones
“Jack Henry’s poetic voice speaks here again with mastery
and precision. The poems in this collection are raw and powerful, probably
dangerous. They resist neutering and do not bow to the whorish gods of
psychological profit and normalization that the feeble seek in their therapy,
their “poetry.” These poems will cut you, then rifle through your wallet. But
they will also reveal vulnerability and humanity while so doing. This is a book
- David McLean, Hellbound (Epic Rites Press), A Hunger for
Mourning (Erbacce Press), Poems Against Enlightenment, La Morte Vivante (Shadow
Archer Pres), Of Dead Snakes, Rain Over Bouvillenobody wants to go to heaven
but everybody wants to die (Poptritus Press), Cadaver's Dance, (Whistling Shade
Press), Pushing Lemmings