Friday, February 21, 2020

Jennifer Bartlett, The Hindrances of a Householder

Everything can be illuminated by water
or most things.

The two women in the black of mourning
knelt by the river in exact tandem, ad

they spoke softly.
The film, like life itself, had minimal

plot and extraordinary beauty.
the film, like life itself, was

slow and maniacal. And when
we walked the village afterwards

in search of just the right martini
I thought of the same steps I had

taken years earlier in preparation
for mourning, and I was not unhappy.

I found myself charmed by the short lyrics of Jennifer Bartlett’s latest poetry title, The Hindrances of a Householder (Victoria TX: Chax Press, 2018), a small, book-length poem-memoir around love, friends, exes and reading, all of which circle around the crux of the poem: a first-person lyric on the physical body. She writes on what is possible, what is necessary, and how connections are made, lost and found. The author of three prior poetry titles—Derivative of the Moving Image (UNM Press, 2007), (a) lullaby without any music (Chax Press, 2012) and Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography (theenk Books, 2014)—and co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), as well as an in-progress biography of the late American poet Larry Eigner, her small volume The Hindrances of a Householder is a book-length first person meditation composed as short sketches, set alongside actual small sketches to accompany. Most of her lyric is relatively straightforward, with curious and unexpected lyric turns. This small book is utterly charming, smart and unselfconsciously subtle and delightful.

Jennifer of the boyfriends who hate her.
Jennifer of the hospice for dying animals.

Jennifer of the reading glasses.
Jennifer of the poems.

Jennifer of the love for the married man.
Jennifer of compassion and empathy.

Jennifer of argumentativeness.
Jennifer of the loaded pistol.

Jennifer of the smoking gun.
Jennifer of the hiding.

Jennifer of loss.
Jennifer of letting go.

Jennifer of the Emma and Dion and
James and Tori and Carol.

Jennifer of the Jim and Andrea and
Jeffrey and Nancy and Joel.

Jennifer of the books.

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