Jenny Molberg

Testimony of the Alpha

Please rise. Please sit. Yes I loved these dogs. The second was better than the first, who is a busted hag-dog. The first bared her hag teeth and her saliva fell over everything. I carried the hag-dog by the neck until she could not speak. I filed these papers because despite my teeth she keeps barking. The second dog was hysterical. The second was more like a cat, now that I think about it. A cat’s large green eyes are liars. The hag captured the cat. The hag turned her familiar. Twitter is very mean. People are very mean when they repeat the things you did to them. The hag and the cat have a plan. I am not very good at understanding this thing called gas lighting but I think it comes from a movie.  

Her Testimony

I let go of her hand, turning blue. We have been in court eight hours. (Between our hearts, a tether, a leash.) When she cries, I cry. (A doggy sound, a cat too high in a tree. Curled about the night from the inside out.) When she describes her abuse, the lawyer says, “Again, your Honor, not relevant, you Honor.” At the plaintiff’s table, laughter erupts. “Was there coerced sex in your relationship?” the lawyer asks. “Yes,” she says. “We are killing a lot of trees,” the lawyer says, handing over the evidence. (I channel my night vision, pitch its green across the room.) The Honorable Answer says, “you must understand that sometimes people are in different phases of their journey with abuse.” (I am strapped to my chair. I bark from the forest floor. I disappear the wooden witness stand.) The court does not care. (The court will open the wound, will fill it with paper.)

From the Author: These two poems will appear in my forthcoming book, which, through a court hearing in verse, investigates the failures of the American judicial system to protect victims of abuse from further danger or violence. The poems focus especially on men in positions of privilege who manipulate the court system to continue to harass and abuse their victims. The Alpha, as persona, represents what an attorney later says in the series of poems, that, “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Jenny Molberg is the author of the poetry collections Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, 2017) and Refusal (LSU Press, 2020). Her third collection, The Court of No Record, is expected to appear in 2023. An NEA fellow, her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, West Branch, The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, The Missouri Review, 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. Find her online at or on Twitter at @jennymolberg.