[ToC]

 

AN APPETITE IN WINTER THRUMS

Matthew Reed Corey

L. M. Fish at the Niagara Hotel for Men, the Bowery, NYC

Gratified
by the fragrance of rainsoaked cedar,
     I cultivate, I host, the unquiet

hum of waiting for
     more—the skins of my sweet-orange,

long since peeled, adjoin the hot-water
baseboards. 
     I rest and I subsist—

underfloor,
the vapor barriers sibilate
     a coarse ess. Hungry enough to sense

the radiator's night-
     crawling heat square the bedroom, I suckle

at my blushing cheeks—I've become so simple,          
measured.
     Warmth is felt by degrees—

emptiness
has no end in mind, and my living breath
     passes uncreated away. 

Numbering the turns
     of the stomach, the hard-water pipes

knock and I hear moments inch by on stilts.
Now and then,
     my wait is endless—

 

 


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This poem is taken from a book-length serial collection that involves the character Lieber M. (L. M.) Fish, and finds Mister Fish just after his arrival to New York City, where he is living in a flophouse. While Fish isn’t in any sense my stand-in, I should mention that “An Appetite in Winter Thrums” is the outcome of writing through my own hunger, during which I noticed that nearly every perception becomes a necessary substitute for food.