Saturday, November 7, 2015


Hunger: bread with olive oil and onions, women, cigarettes, liquor. “Need need need.” That’s right: Bread. Cigarettes. Liquor. And…women. Just some of those things that one hungers for, and needs in order to satisfy that hunger. And if one is trying to back off a bit on the liquor, because its effect is becoming lethal and all, then it makes sense that one would fast and not eat food as well. It’s all or nothing, obviously, all these things facets of the same  need complex. But now that he’s back to eating again, sure, welcome that former mistress who just called. Have a drink. Feed.

I don’t know. She’ll be over at 5:00, and they’ll sit and talk. He’ll be pleased to see her. He’ll be nice, they’ll both have clever things to say, probably they’ll reminisce, catch up on their lives, maybe there will be some moments of a more emotional remembrance, a spoken or unspoken mutual recollection of some intense intimate moments they shared. I do wonder, though, if she ever understands herself as part of a collection of needs. How did she matter? No doubt being his mistress satisfied some need in her too—no way of telling who she was back then, why she made that connection, why she’s calling now. You can’t tell if it’s all light and cool and fun, or if there is or was something darker and more hurtful, or emptier and sadder, in play. But he does lay it out there: She and the others like her fed a constitutional hunger. That and the other hungers broke him into pieces. She wasn’t about connection, or love, or offering and giving. At the very least, if any of that was there, it still was subordinate to need. It was all a great ravenous feeding, and it’s that feeding that broke him. As long as the pieces recorded, wrote whatever they experienced—and they did—it was justified. He had his cake and ate it too.


On his four acres, my neighbor
Lost fifty-five ash trees
To an insect's hunger.
His chainsaw splits
The afternoon, segmenting
Dead trees’ bones.
The wood will feed
His furnace, but take all
You can carry, he says.
I’ll never use it all.
So, yes, I’ll gather logs
Feed them one
At a time to my grate.
Another transformation:
The lithe wet forest
Sawn to stumps by a dry
Measureless hunger, and January,
I’ll crouch by the hearth
Let hot blue flames
Sting my skin like meat
Vindicating the bare
Field of stumps out back
Through this satisfying
New addiction to fire.


1 comment:

  1. At first I thought the "fasting" and "eating" might be metaphors, that his receded gift of writing had returned. But, nah. He's just hoping for a tryst.