Friday, July 16, 2010


Poem of the Day:
"Philosopher Orders Crispy Pork" by Heather McHugh
Poetry, July/August 2008

My roommates, Steph and Dan, have gone to bed. I am quickly fading. We simultaneously entered the realm of 'food coma,' having gorged ourselves on pizza, sweets and beer. 'Tis the TGIF cuisine.

McHugh makes me laugh with her eloquent portrayal of the simple, and perhaps wholly human, desire to eat pork. She writes, "As for his fat,/I’d give up years yes years of my/own life for such/a gulpable semblable" (lines 4-7). What a glorious way to write that one wants a steaming lump of bacon; she goes so far in her high poetic grace as to use the word "semblable," an archaic term for 'resemblance.'

To me, victim to an ever-approaching food coma, McHugh's poem seems not ridiculous. Passion makes poetry, and humans are passionate about food. There are countless television programs about food, books, conventions, legacies passed down among families like priceless heirlooms.

But McHugh, in her final lines, acknowledges the absurdity of her poem's subject:

The world

won’t need those seventeen more
poems, after all, there being
so few subjects to be treated. Three

if by subject we mean anyone
submitted to another’s
will. Two if by subject we mean

topic. One if by death we wind up
meaning love. And none if a subject
must entail

the curlicue’s indulgence of itself.

McHugh, you go after that pink curlicue, you cook it up real nice. Poet, you devour, because why should we not eat with a voracious appetite the things we desire so? It is such passion that makes poems, whether they be for a lover or a pig...

Though I hope these are never one and the same.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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