The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 16-JAN 17

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DEC 16-JAN 17 Issue

My Little Envoi, For Nancy, Travis, and Roswell


My friend broke up with me via text message.
I wanted to kill myself, but instead swam with the Hassidic women.
Once I die, I will no longer be able to listen to the Beastie Boys.
The women fly into the water like figures in a Chagall painting,
The pool echoes chatter and gossip in Hebrew.
My little envoi flails about.

As I write this poem, I begin to forget what I am sad about.
The one poet says to the other poet don’t break up with me via text message.
It turns out; you can send messages in Hebrew.
You seem to have a colorful solution, swimming with the Hassidic women.
We stand above the city looking down into the mouths of the Chagall paintings.
Moishe would not like the Beastie Boys.

Travis used to sell drugs to the Beastie Boys.
I don’t know what that was all about.
I mean Mark with a K, versus Marc with a C, Marc who made the Chagall paintings.
A Charles Bernstein poem was the first poem I received via text message.
They swim in dresses, the Hassidic women.
What is the word for despair in Hebrew?

Moishe is far above the glowing city saying despair in Hebrew.
This café is blasting the Beastie Boys.
Moishe would not like the swimming, Hassidic women
in the pool moving about.
Fuck you for teaching me how to write a text message
through the ocean of Chagall paintings.

The women swim frantically like dreamers in a Chagall painting.
I could translate if only I knew Hebrew.
Those boy-painters broke my heart via text message.
David Bowie broke it too, but not the Beastie Boys.
Does anyone know what the song Jimmy James is about?
My legs were terrible the day after I swam with the Hassidic women.

There are no women more beautiful than the Hassidic women
swimming like frantic dreamers in a Chagall painting.
Everyone sees that I am a little fish who flails about.
I want to run through the streets screaming despair in Hebrew.
I guarantee there is no one else on this train writing a sestina about the Beastie Boys
or their complicated relationship to text message.

O beautiful women swimming, swimming in their Hebrew
sing the Beastie Boys, flying through the air like a Chagall painting.
If I forgive the untowardly text message, will you tell me what the song
Jimmy James is about?




Jennifer Bartlett

Jennifer Bartlett was a 2018–2019 Lower Manhattan Cultural Counsel Fellow. Her most recent poetry book is The Hindrances of a Householder. She is currently completing a biography of Larry Eigner.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 16-JAN 17

All Issues