Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Two Poems

Two Poems

Photograph via Flickr by pm107uk

The Hunger

When did we become so hungry—
was it years of famine in the dark ages,
the perennial blackness of not knowing
where the next meal will come from,
or the first ache of mechanization,
when some small child saw a machine
in action and knew, with deafening certitude:
I am replaceable.

Or was it later still, in one genocide
or another (as it turned out, humans
had a penchant for ravenous destruction),
when humanity itself began to disappear,
or in the political foment of radical
versus conservative, a frenzied moment
to know oneself or die trying. Or in the possibility
of free love, unhinging the gnashing jaws of

Perhaps not in the grandiose, then,
but the insignificant—
the beheaded dandelion beneath
the mower’s blade,
the pulsing dial tone,
the blank computer screen,
the empty chair gaping
across the table?

Was it lust or lack that brought us here,
clawing across skin, eyes, any barrier—
ourselves, others—
hungry for the only thing that will sate
the snapping teeth of the monster.
But not knowing how it all began,
we invent hungers of our own,
distinct tragedies to conjure someone, something,
somewhere, that will fill the hole.

As for me, I have taken to swinging
on a playground as a sure cure,
throwing my head back to eat the
whole, impossible sky.

Vital Signs

We watched for that:
the sluice of bloodtide
pulling back, primordial inner ocean
raking across boulders of bones,
the liver, kidneys,
all the flotsam of organs and tissue
you preferred not to radiate,
gliding through
the sick echo of the empty uterus,
site of endometrial adenocarcenoma
Stage IIIC: a destruction project
whose cancerous scaffolding
stands erect
at your body’s feeble crumbling,
proud and certain of its
rightful ownership.

We told each other, “It will be soon,
it will be soon.”
And when it finally happened,
the blood reeling into its
central heartpool,
we held your cool blue fingertips
and said goodbye. But
it was the breath
that kept coming back,
ripples of you echoing
again and again,
unexpectedly, even when we were certain
you had gone,
tide coming in as blood
and going out as breath,
never to return again.