It is the appetite we wrap our skin around like clothes—
that we push down but that squeezes out around us
in spite of our best efforts—
that appetite we run from and run to.

It lies waiting for us
behind the cold glass windows of stores,
coils in our cooking pots
and curls out in their steam.

Appetite sits under the Christmas tree
wrapped up in red paper and green ribbon.
It is the appetite of the Barbie Doll and the erector set,
the jigsaw puzzle and the bouncing ball of the jacks game.

It is the appetite
that lies dormant in our gonads,
jumps in our semen,
sleeps in an egg.

It vibrates in a vocal cord,
trembles on the fingers of a lover,
swims on the tongue of a nursing infant,
catapults off the slingshot of a seven-year-old boy.

Appetite kinks out from the curling iron,
chews itself from the tips of our fingernails
and spins itself from our feet
during a jungle rhythm or a southern reel.

Appetite pipes from the end of a flute
and shakes off the edges of a tambourine.
It is sealed in a tube of paint,
carried by a brush to the canvas where it dances its own dance.

It is appetite that hides in our computer keys
and in the tips of the fingers that tap them,
appetites lined up on our paper
where we have assembled them in unaccustomed order.

They are what bring us here,
these appetites that can never be catalogued or collected in their entirety—
our appetites better presented in a brown paper bag,
jumbled like penny candies, tumbled over each other like in a junk drawer.

Appetites that can never fully be defined
or neatly wrapped up in a moral or a surprise ending.
Appetites that can never be satisfied,
because our appetites want everything,

and gaining everything, reach out for more.


The prompt today is dormant. The prompt word today brought something up in me that has lain dormant for many years.  That is, this poem which was actually written in a MUCH longer form twenty-five years ago. “. . .that lies dormant in our gonads” kept running through my mind, and although I knew I had written it, I couldn’t remember where.  Finally, I did a search in my poetry file and found this poem. The original I submitted to a national poetry competition and won first prize for.  The judge said it was for my pure audacity in submitting a poem that took 12 minutes to read!  I published it in a shorter form two years ago in my blog, but even that tightened poem was probably too long for most viewers to read. At any rate, here it is in its newest and shortest form–a poem from within a poem, where it has lain dormant for twenty-five years.

5 thoughts on “Appetite

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