What is a poet to do when writing an epic biblical poem in sonnet form for more than two and a half years that ends up costing him more than 35 pounds and the loss of his fiancé? In the case of R. Douglas Jacobs, you write another poem detailing the relationship and breakup. And as the introduction says, Jacobs also thanks various peers in his past for their “unfettered malice” or “odiousness.” With that as the dedication, one can only imagine where the poem goes from there. And you’d be right.
However, deFragmentation is a well-developed, brutally honest, and detailed post-mortem of his engagement and breakup. Written in free verse, the reader gets a different perspective than it might have had been written in prose. Jacobs doesn’t hold back on his own failings, but, very quickly, one can see the dynamics between him, his fiancé, and her mother
“…That was destined to undermine our union,
Unless you had the courage to confront
Your maternal impostor about the truths
Pertaining to your birthright and her neglect.”
Sometimes reading the story of someone else’s failure creates either a perverse sense of voyeurism–like driving past a car accident that’s held up your trip for an extensive period of time–or that sense of uncomfortableness from watching someone go through an unpleasant experience that you can identify with. But here, the flow of the free verse provides a rhythm to the narrative keeping the reader in the story, without the anxiety of the emotions between the two.
A well constructed, highly personal free verse breakup story. Probably catharsis for the author, entertaining and informative for the reader, and a searing indictment for the former potential mother-in-law (otherwise known as the “maternal impostor”).