Every day a beetle has its bowl of grass.
Every day a nip of mouse is pursed
up in the articulated ribs of an Eastern Brown.
For each breaking of a Heron’s fast: a nail of Perch
headfirst gulleted and gone, slideways,
to bone pellet and chalk splatter.
After all, who eats and who is eaten
is most of the fundamental law of
God, and rule of man, once the granite words of
Thou Shalt are shaved down to the meat.
Plodding sauropod with galled glut of stone,
sharp gastrolith to husk a gizzard’s nut,
for rhythmic crack beneath feather, behind scales.
Saltlick wallow, supper and repast,
for horse lips, snorting elephant and brick-
headed rhino. Mudpie and dirt sandwich to
tactile toddlers, storing their sensory explosion:
snot tang and caustic sliver of soap cake.
Once in a non-retrieving hound, a starburst
image of a set of keys. Once in the carcass
of a whale, excavations and blubber landslides
revealed the pitted beak of monster squids:
dense axes and arrowheads, shot in a
war of glimmerings and nitrogen bubbling depths,
and once when the gush and amniotic mess
of small fish were hooked out of the blanched
wound of a Great White, a flop of arm
waved onto the deck like a flailing eel.
After all, we are only what we eat,
and what eats us inverts the pyramid of teeth:
staphylococcus circus, smearing in our bloat,
putrefactive fungi, motley and carnivorous,
japing puffballs in our ears and at our nose.
So you eat and eat, or not at all:
abstinence makes the heart grow fonder and the
stomach smaller and ultimately we are finite
transformations and sharings of constant matter.
For fifteen years the cat ate the same
grey pebbles of cat food, but through dumb
alchemy, made bones and teeth and splits
of needling nails and presents of fur: squeezed
up anonymous and unclaimed sods of bile.
My daughter harboured hair nibbled from
her ponytail, slick ink nib or shoe lace length,
cribbed nails and flush knuckle blunted. Such swath
of hair in snips and absent-minded bites.
All clippings caught and swallowed in
twenty years of stress until it heaved in her
like last summer’s bale, black smutted or peated,
until it cemented into a stew of rocks and pain:
Rapunzel climbing down her wind of hair
to never leave, a knotted hank crimped
and bouldered in her gut, far from a prince.
Each day’s dinner chipped from briny flowers,
beaked parrot fish scraping up a beach of sand
in cultivated garden of coral, flocked in water.
Then there’s The Frozen Man, crammed
in a shallow grave of ice, Ibex bacon,
glassy grains of rice, last meal cooling
into petrification in his stomach, as the arrow
that devoured him hung pitiless in the snowing air.
Stones to weigh him down to death. Each post-
mortem begins as we lived, with stomach contents.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones