“Alimentum” by Len Krisak

Len Krisak


Birdcage-boned, diminished, frail, and brittle,
She lives to finish off what we
Were not permitted to consume when little:
Big Macs and Whoppers, preferably
With extra cheese. She bolts—no, wolfs—them down,
Then begs for pizza, Chinese take-out,
Always up for what we set before
Her 90-year-old appetite.
Deaf as stone, when chauffeured into town,
She cases it as if on stakeout,
Scanning fast-food joints for deals … for more.
And though something seems not-quite-right,
We never do refuse to play along,
Give in, or stand amazed—gob-smacked.
Long after we have done, she’s going strong
Still. Wings hell-hot; ribs baby-backed;
Burritos; sour cream and guacamole.
The way they vanish is unholy,
But what is there to do? A hunger such
As hers stands for the will to live,
We’re told. But can she need to live too much,
Feeding a sibyl’s asymptotic
Wasting to a mealy sac of grains?
What she demands, we more than give,
Since stopping her would be worse than quixotic.
We watch the weight she never gains.
We wait to weigh what makes up her remains.

from Rattle #46, Winter 2014

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Len Krisak: “I remain in loving, almost daily, hand-to-hand combat with the poets of ancient Rome. My Ovid on Love and the Carmina of Catullus are the two most recent results of that enterprise. As Richard Wilbur remarked, I write poems more than poetry—both my own and translations of classical writers—because language is an overmastering passion. That it speaks of love and death makes it impossible to resist.”

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