Chew

Chew, chew,
I’ve had it with this chewing,
rat’s teeth on a lead pipe,
a squirrel opening the brain-case
of a black walnut.

I don’t want to chew
like some glassy-eyed ruminant,
bottom jaw going back & forth
in the monotonous rhythm of pestle
against mortar.

Nor do I envy the carnivore’s lot,
so single-minded in its devotion
to messy drippy stinking tangles
of other creatures’ pain, the toxic
rot of its bite.

Chewing is a waste of time.
I want to return to the soup,
a fetus sampling the world
through its belly, a whale
with a mouth like an aeolian harp,
the whole slow song of it fed on krill.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

14 Comments


  1. Your harp image reminds me of “The Want Bone,” by Pinsky.

    Great poem, Dave. Stunning ending there. Yup.

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  2. Wow. Very nice, Dave! Sounds like something that may have started from a very weird or bad dream.

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  3. I want to return to the soup,
    a fetus sampling the world
    through its belly, a whale
    with a mouth like an aeolian harp,
    the whole slow song of it fed on krill.

    OH. WOW. Amazing and the last line, fabulous, incredible.

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  4. I should drink yourself into oblivion then!

    Seriously though, chewing’s not something you want to get too aware of; I think people with eating disorders often develop a revulsion to it. This has a weird, feverish, overwroughtness about it.

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  5. very nice, dave…i liked it

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  6. Chewing does get old; I liked your mortar-and-pestle and krill images, but I’m wondering if you’ve been having dental issues?

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  7. Great poem, and seductive idea (I agree with Lucy). I wonder what it’s like to be a fungus, simply growing into your food and slurping through every cell. How about digging your feet into the earth and turning your face to the sun?

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  8. Wow. Thanks for the warm responses, y’all – I guess I’ll count this one a success.

    leslee – Not a dream; see below.

    Larry – The narrator here isn’t me. I love to chew, even if my overbite makes it a bit messy sometimes. (Fortunately, the beard catches most of the crumbs.) This poem came out of a conversation with Dana, who I see doesn’t mind acknowledging the connection. But the narrator is a complete fiction.

    sarah b – Yeah. And as I’m sure you know, fungi are actually more similar to animals than to plants in their metabolism. I think I’ve written that fungus poem, or one like it. But maybe it’s time for another.

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  9. It’s always time for another fungus poem, Dave.

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  10. I always trust men with facial hair, my dad had it, therefore good guys have hairy faces……I persuaded my other half to grow a beard within three months of us getting together….he has never shaved it off (thirteen years and counting *grin*). Whenever I wax on about why I love facial hair, the unenlightened say yuck, crumbs…..so ssssssshhh, you’re doing the hairyfaced and their lovers a disservice.

    Seriously, I came back to read the poem because I enjoyed it so much earlier. Beautiful.

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  11. I love the peroration, of course. “return to the soup” has a primordial ring to it, I think. This is one of my favorites.

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  12. Sent with head slung low from Dana’s lair. Loved this, especially the ‘Nor do I envy the carnivore’s lot…’

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  13. Thanks, y’all. Rocas, welcome. Jo, I wish there were more women who felt as you do! In my case, since orthodontistry only cured about 2/3 of the severe overbite I was born with, the beard gives me a chin I wouldn’t otherwise have.

    Reply

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