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Jennifer Jackson Berry


Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of The Feeder (YesYes Books, 2016), and her most recent chapbook Bloodfish was published in 2019 by Seven Kitchens Press as part of their Keystone Chapbook Series. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


what i know about death w/ six objects

1.    strand of curly blond hair: pregnancy
& death are closely related.
be careful w/ what you touch.

2.    cigar: smells outlive the living. & ghosts smoke.

3.    fishing pole &/or rifle across a lap across a bench seat
back of a 50-something sedan across Canadian border:
death can come fast.

4.    football. college regulation size.
w/ note to a boyfriend’s buried brother written
in white marker winding across stitches.
written by a girlfriend
who has better handwriting
& who doesn’t love her boyfriend anymore
—maybe never did.
placed graveside: death leaves slow.

5.    sandwich made by a man w/ one leg:
everyone dies.

6.    long johns: the dead don’t get
hot or cold but a daughter will wonder
in summer & wish interred underthings
weren’t waffle-knit & thick.

The Spilled Meal

Praise the meal I could eat off my chest,
the sloshes over soup spoons I didn’t rake
across the edge of the bowl before lifting
to mouth, the layers of every drip
over the years. Praise anything oil-based
because that’s not coming out no matter
the corners of napkins into ice water,
no matter the blots. Praise the walk out
of restaurants with my hand over my heart.
Praise holding tight the sides of a cardigan,
the positioning of a messenger bag strap just so.
Praise the singlehanded pass of
mac & cheese across the family table
when my weak wrist gave out. Praise the shaken
salad dressing bottles without caps tightened.
Praise that we call my chest a shelf,
that we intentionally wobble passed bowls
every Sunday we still gather to eat as a family.
Praise the jokes, praise the dedication to the mess.
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