“Always Hungry” by Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith


Obscene enticement, the entire head of a hog
in the window of the meat market
is fly-speckled testament to what man will gobble
if it can be bought one quarter at a time.
Mama and I will make sandwiches
from this pig’s jellied noggin,
slicing the cheese of it thin,
drenching snowy bread with Tabasco.

It is this way with us,
girls of the first wave.
We crave chicken necks, salt pork,
the pickled feet of pigs.
We pluck hairs from the skin of our suppers,
treasure sizzling drippings in sinkside jars,
sop up what’s left with biscuits.

Outside of us, cities are torched.
Policies decide who we are, where we will live.
But our souls are hastily crafted
of fat, salt and sugar,
all that Dixie dirt binding us whole.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007


Patricia Smith: “I was living in Chicago and found out about a poetry festival in a blues club on a winter afternoon. It was just going to be continuous poetry, five hours. It was the first event in a series called Neutral Turf, which was supposed to bring street poets and academic poets together. And I thought, I’ll get some friends together and we’ll go laugh at the poets. We’ll sit in the back, we’ll heckle, it’ll be great. But when I got there, I was amazed to find this huge literary community in Chicago I knew nothing about. The poetry I heard that day was immediate and accessible. People were getting up and reading about things that everyone was talking about. Gwendolyn Brooks was there, just sitting and waiting her turn like everyone else. There were high school students. And every once in a while a name poet would get up. Gwen got up and did her poetry, then sat back down and stayed for a long time. And I just wanted to know—who are these people? Why is this so important to them? Why had they chosen to be here as opposed to the 8 million other places they could have been in Chicago?” (web)

Rattle Logo