About the Poems
by Charles Jensen
These poems are selections from my chapbook Living Things, which is in turn excerpted from a book-length series of poems elegizing my ex-boyfriend's death by suicide. It was a complicated loss. In the weeks following, I journaled pretty constantly about the grief I was experiencing and many of the poems from the collection came from that—of these poems, "Debts" was spurred by finding a six-year-old scrap of paper in a file drawer.
Because of the nature of our relationship, I wasn't able to be very involved with the actual rituals of grief, so many of the poems became invented opportunities for me to participate in laying him and his memory to rest. "Parlor" is one of the "invented" poems that helped me grapple with some of my need to be involved with saying goodbye, while "Evidence" recontextualized that moment of learning of his death in a way that better suited my shock and helplessness.
"Bargaining" came out of the natural response to the idea of death as an exchange: something is taken, but nothing is given back. In the poem, I was trying to find a way to give up something innocuous in order to keep what was already lost. What is equivalent to a life? I still haven't figured it out, and things are still missing.