Holding the Hunger like an old friend.

An old beautiful, dangerous, intimate friend.

A lover who knows this body and heart so well.

so well.

A lover who knows how to play 

every

inch

of my psychosomatic experience

until I lose myself in his embrace.

Because I invited him in,

taught him the curves and waves of my desire.

Showed him where I keep my heart.

Thinking he would guide me home.

But now I know his motives are so ulterior, 

I dare not give in to this offered pleasure.

 

This ultimate seduction.

The hardest to resist is also the deadliest.

I have learned the hard way not to feed this 

Hunger,

for his devouring 

only leaves me hung over and wanting.

 

 

But there is no ending the torment.

No prison that will hold this beast.

No reigns that control it for long.

No where to run.

He knows every place I'd think to hide,

every cranny into which I would slide.

The more I seek to flee,

the more he stalks me like the prey I then make myself to be.

 

I can distract us for a moment from our deadly dance.

But then he finds a new enticement.

Carefully scratches 

at the edge of an emptiness 

that cannot be filled.

A rawness that must ever be exposed.

In desperation,

amidst prayers for absolution 

from the self-same force that gives us life,

I release every strategy.

Every clever plan and delicious fantasy.

 

I can only sit with him.

Tenderly hold this raging ache,

this numbing force,

this tumultuous yearning.

And wait for him to reveal the gift 

he has been this whole time holding.

Braving the claws.

Staring back into the hungry eyes.

Extending my open palms.

Bearing my naked chest.

And bringing him right next to my heart.

 

We breathe together, Hunger and I.

I remember all the joy his toying has brought me.

All the anguish our war has cost me.

All the lessons addiction has taught me.

The compassion this being human has wrought in me.

 

And I am fed, and I am found.

Should is the sledgehammer of shame,

wielded against the marrow of our souls.

 

“You should have known better.

You should do what you’re told.

You should let go of what’s old.

You should already be evolved…”

 

Robbing us of our spontaneity,

humanity,

vulnerability,

and any sense of worth.

It tells us that frailty is inexcusable.

Omnipotence and omniscience requirements for acceptance.

That somehow our futures can inform the past

in concrete and solid ways.

We do not know what we do not know.

 

This weapon of mass destruction,

the torturous instruction

to be something other than we are.

To conform, follow the norm, or be ever informed.

This pounding shattering soul-crushing illusion

that holds us in heart-aching confusion,

that hides so close to the desire for greatness,

stealing words from our higher selves’ edicts,

and twisting them into whips

with which we scar our own backs.

 

 

Stop. Shoulding. on yourself.

Put down the hammer you have used

to punish yourself for being human.

Listen, yes, for the wellspring of discernment.

The wisdom to make life-giving choices.

The knowing of when a misstep needs atonement.

But do not contort to the whims

of a half-awake world.

Do not cast yourself out

from the circle of your own love,

for any of the ways weakness, failure,

or especially authenticity find you.

Let not your mind bind you.

Speak words that unwind you.

Allow intention to define you.

And hold up your open hand.

Sometimes it’s a joke both of you know is not really funny

but in that moment you laugh richly, 

and for a hair’s breadth 

the pain subsides.

Clarity rushes in,

and you can open your tear-filmed eyes

and blood-thump muffled ears 

a little wider,

to receive the next instructing,

the next diagnostic prodding.

It’s the sincere warning that it will hurt, a lot,

and she is not sure if it will work,

but that she will do her best.

Or that she takes the time to ask how to pronounce your name, 

even if you are one of a dozen people she will see that day,

and tells you how well you are doing,

through the panting breath and unintelligible moaning.

 

It’s the realization of the preciousness of true connective presence

when most people walk by you on the sidewalk

with the speed you knew just a few days ago,

but now seems like a dream clouded over with sharp despair;

the few who offer help,

who give even a sympathetic gaze,

who say with words or eyes 

“I see that you are suffering now, and I wish you well,”

remind you that there is still humanity

in humans.

That we’ve all been here, 

in some way or other.

And to be humbled is to open

to a deeper level of compassion.

 

It is easy to forget the definition of care

in a world where nearly everyone is stuck in survival mode.

Seemingly unavoidable to let selfishness build wall after wall around our hearts’ homes,

until all we ever see are each other’s backs,

or the ubiquitous resting bitch face that cannot register

recognition of another soul,

because the facade is so disconnected from the center. 

 

I want to live in a world where we care about each other.

Where we show that care as if our lives depend on it.

Because it does, it does.

And a moment in a care center 

helps me remember

that people can do just that, not only as a function,

but as a gift.

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© 2018 by Medicinal Poetry