“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Christine Kanownik

AB EO QUOD

“You see, I don’t like meals, I only eat banquets.”
-Leonora Carrington

put something on
as a layer
a protection from food

keep it outside your threshold
drench yourself in something red and steaming
and you will attain true enlightenment

you know the mysteries and they are all
dumb and bloody

after initiation you can
crawl underneath the table and never
be heard from again

I will escape with the moths
when dinner is over

indeed
this is the beauty of the earth

Ghosts don't know you

You stand alone in a poorly lit room
a large room with concrete floors
it might be important
whatever is inside the room
it might be a miracle
it might be
I don’t know
the question is not opening the box
or the ability to open the box
or whatever’s inside of the box
it is something else
are we willing to live the rest of our lives
not knowing?
ghosts hide in canisters
like coffee or flour
ghosts are willingly baked into baked goods
and consumed because they are bored
they go stale
they grind themselves up into a fine paste
they go from solid to liquid to gas and back to solid again
they lick the bottom of your feet while you sleep
just to see what you’ll do
they fall off buildings and onto roofs and trains and pools
they obstruct nothing
they ask if you’ve even known love
you don’t hear them so you don’t answer
it isn’t rude but they still feel hurt
that is why that shelf in the kitchen
is always collapsing in on itself
you aren’t original you are a fire
the ghosts know how many candies are in the jar
are the jar, you are the candy
be the candy, be numerous and sweet

Banquet

I’m tired of it all
the moderate consumption
the curdling milk the milk
curdling on purpose
settling into curds and whey
I’m tired of the movements
and machinations
the pasteurizations
the imperceptible heat
the slow rise the fast cool
the mouth the saliva gathering
the enzymes preparing
the preparation
the knife fork knife fork
fork fork fork fork fork
I’m tired of it all I’m
tired of the pangs and
the acid and the heat
the clickclickclick of the burner
the knives the knives sharpened
honing shaping sharpening
the teeth the biting of the tongue
or the cheek or scalding the roof
of the mouth the ache from every side
of my chest and every side
of my stomach and every side
of every side I’m sick of it
lying on the floor moaning
or trying not to moan
heating up and cooling off
I’m tired of the first bite the gentle
noises the pleasant compliments the forks
the knives the scraping against
the plate the plating the arranging
just to to destroy waking up
in the middle of the night
just to throw it all up that acid
the taste of peanuts when it
really was hazelnuts charred
all just to shit it all out
the dairy creating a physical
nightmare the eggs the farms
that create those nice labels
with their children and a lamb
dogs and flowers and the sun rising
I know it is not like that that I
cannot get eggs like that at my
local store for $3 a dozen
while men sit and sit and sit
outside the old man in the wheelchair
who befriended that lost chihuahua
who spoke sadly about the homeless dog
while arranging the tarp over himself
to protect from the rain and snow
and then disappearing altogether one day
I’m sick of not knowing and not knowing
who even to ask and I’m sick
of knowing and being full of knowledge
rich and thick knowledge like the whole
milk I buy from the grocery store
for $3 a gallon with a red farmhouse
on the label promising the idyll and
the sunrises and that children might
still continue somewhere while
we all look suspiciously as the
police drive by the grocery store
driving past the church where
everyone is preparing once again
for a savior’s birth hurried
no one called you no one asked
most of my neighbors are suffering
in ways I cannot tell you about here
I’m tired of not being able to tell you
and I’m tired of there being any need to tell
to tell and then the leadened listening
so I go home and I curdle the milk
with fresh lemon juice
and I line the mesh strainer
with cheesecloth and let it sit
for just under an hour
while I roast the butternut squash
and char the hazelnuts
as I mentioned before
during which time someone has died
I know that no one needs
a well-meaning white woman
and the world remains largely unchanged
after my moralizing but sometimes
I just want to clean someone’s
anyone’s feet with my hair
because I know that they
will not always be with us
that one day I will come looking for them
and they will have disappeared too

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Christine Kanownik is the author of the poetry collections, HEAD (Trembling Pillow Press, 2019) and KING OF PAIN (Monk Books, 2016), as well as the chapbook We Are Now Beginning to Act Wildly (Diez Press, 2012). Read more

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