Poetry / Jenny Molberg
:: Four Poems ::
From the writer
:: Account ::
These poems seek to shed light on the failures of the American justice system to protect victims of abuse and intimate partner violence. The poems are a part of a forthcoming book, The Court of No Record (LSU Press 2023), in which a court transcript in verse presents a cast of characters—the Alpha, the perpetrator of abuse and the petitioner in court; two women who have spoken out against his abuse; the Honorable Answer, a judge with questionable conflicts of interests; and the two attorneys who represent the petitioner and respondent. The Alpha’s attorney speaks mostly in antiquated Bible verses, illuminating the oppressive damage of patriarchal religious institutions on our society’s response to intimate partner violence and the gaslighting that occurs when victims break their silence. “Evidence” suggests what the court will not hear—that is, testimony often silenced in cases of abuse, as a victim’s story may not be considered evidentiary support or is called hearsay. Unfortunately, as many victims of abuse know, legal action can exacerbate a dangerous situation, and often an abuser’s version of events is weighed in equal measure to a victim’s. Orders of protection are often manipulated by abusers or proven ineffective because the court will not see “proof” of abuse until a victim is already injured, or, devastatingly, killed. With these poems, I hope to encourage a conversation that needs to be made more urgent—how to demand change within our systems’ failures and how to reconsider the word “justice” in hegemonic and misogynistic legal settings.
Jenny Molberg is the author of three poetry collections: Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, 2017), Refusal (LSU Press, 2020), and The Court of No Record (LSU Press, 2023). She edited the Unsung Masters book, Adelaide Crapsey: On the Life & Work of an American Master. She has received fellowships and scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Longleaf Writers Conference. Her poems and essays have recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, VIDA, The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, Oprah Quarterly, and other publications. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and co-edits Pleiades magazine.