Jennifer Bartlett

from The Hindrances of a Householder



Jennifer thought of emailing Kenzo.

This might take some digging.


She had long ago (years, really)

thrown all their letters in the trash


and Kenzo wasn’t on social media.

She could kind of remember the first


three numbers of Kenzo’s phone number,

but this was not helpful.


She planned to tell Kenzo:

when I met you, I was not


available, but now I am and

this is partially your fault.


My family is out of town and my

best friend is distracted so I have


trouble getting healthy meals. I am

calling because I want you


to come over and make me dinner

and let me blow you as many times as we can bear it.


Then, we will sleep like kittens.

However, you cannot be my boyfriend


because Mark is my boyfriend, and

there are other reasons as well.

from The Hindrances of a Householder



Jennifer told Andrea that men were

easy to get, you just had to decide


that you wanted one. Or in Jennifer’s

case, several.


Jennifer imagined herself

much to be like her paternal


grandmother. Marion, a Minnesotan

in every sense of the word, passed


away when Jennifer was six years old.

Marion was a true lady. A cocktail


drinker, a neat freak, Jennifer’s

father was not allowed to have animals


as animals were dirty. Perhaps

that is why he had so many animals


as an adult. And Jennifer had

many animals as an adult, as well.


How many things could she do at

once? She raised a boy, she cared


for four animals, she cleaned,

she did errands, she loved,


she hated. She carved a path

from Andrea’s house to her


house and back again. She did

this despite the hole in her shoe.


She did magical things and

she did mundane things.


She studied birds and trees.

She flirted with boys and drank liquor.


She read books and slept. She wondered

who would win the essay contest


at the Ukrainian Institute. She wondered

about the men who worked at the Iraqi


Consulate. Despite the wars, men

always seem relatively cheery, although


they often had trouble keeping their parking space.


Poet Jennifer Bartlett poses for an author photo.

JENNIFER BARTLETT is the author of three books of poetry, co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability and an occasional op-ed writer for the New York Times. She has a fourth collection of poetry, The Hindrances of a Householder forthcoming from Chax.