Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality

A poem


— Its rhetoric of grains and pulses cut

Too leanly: strict, its measurements outweighed —

Or aimed to — the body’s craving to stray

And voice unasked-for grumbles, each bouquet

Of digested inner darkness released

In scorned enmity — me no masterpiece


In politesse, you’d agree, though item

After item your recipes required

Could humble me, whims not said verbatim

I’d brown in olive oil, nuance unmired

By onion’s sweetness, the wild garlic’s lyre

Not plucked with zest, each plate a tuneless mess

Of noisome glop, not piquant bouillabaisse


Yet you’d dig in with relish, doctrinaire

On how sharp tastes butcher us, sacrifice

Whipping blind faith into cream for éclairs

Such brightness beat gaseous, if not light

With vacuum-forced air, an olfactory spice

You’d keep coughing up as buoyant virtue

To cutthroat rancour, hunger’s déjà vu


Language’s game an endangered species

Its gristliness herded inside reserves

For meat surrounding cities, obsequies

You’d found in rules you felt at last conserved

Long-compromised menus banning hors d’oeuvres

Those tangy canapés apt to assault

Our taste buds, impel tongues to ache with salt


Foie gras and eggs, urge them to lick pathways through

To this paradise of auditory

Fullness where all meanings each sound accrues

Are hunted down or sown and picked, set free

Or tamed, filleted or thrown back unclean.

Each appetite denied an extinction

An open field shot of all distinctions


Your fruitless book not writ to roast me whole

Or stuff me up with herbs, its fading words

Worthy, just, of nature verses by souls

Mouthing vain soliloquies undeterred

By death, their awkward lack of scope absurd

So, however pellucid each rhyme might be

I’m deaf, my game-keeping ear out of range.