empty

you cook for yourself, and
eat what you make. you used
to finish it even if
you had to force yourself
past the point of fullness
or risk gifting the fridge
with yet another container
of instantly suspicious leftovers.

but yesterday when
the French Toast had been made,
and mostly eaten, and you
realized you had stopped
eating because
you were no longer hungry,
you didn’t eat the rest.
you got up and threw
the rest away, despite the
voices in your head saying
wasteful
children are starving in China
you spent good money
for those eggs, that bread,
those sausages.

you remember sitting
at the dining room table
as a child, for hours upon
hours, stubbornly refusing
to eat the food your mother
had slaved over a hot stove
to prepare. you don’t
remember if you actually
ended up eating it,
or if she gave in and sent you
to bed without any other supper
than what you had
already eaten.

you probably drank the milk.
(there was always milk.)

you wonder at the expression
about eyes being bigger than
the stomach. first of all,
how is that even possible.
your stomach is quite
sizable. secondly, after all
these years of cooking
and eating, wouldn’t you know
by now how much is enough,
and how much is far
too much? it’s as if
those years of being forced
to eat food that was not
what you wanted, being shamed
and mocked for the food
you wanted, taught you that
there’s never enough, that
only too much is correct.
just in case. better than
not enough.

it doesn’t stop you from
feeling empty.

predator vs. prey

your body is an animal at heart,
and the animal kingdom is rife
with murder most foul,
from the microscopic to gargantuan,
countless critters battle for supremacy every day.
there’s a reason we have so many metaphors for human behavior
about predators and prey.
and because history is written by the winners,
we mostly celebrate the clever brave strong hunters
searching out elusive, wily or featherheaded game.

in the animal world of the body,
you’d better pay attention to these roles.
being held down by someone
who gets off on your struggling
teaches your animal self
that you are prey.
holding someone down,
deliberately hurting them, and
taking what you want by force
turns you into a predator.

for prey, fear is the only thing
that has a chance in hell of keeping them alive.
it’s clear as day, how a rabbit freezes instantly
as a hawk’s shadow skims over –
its tiny eye a brimming cup
from which tears fear to fall,
thin, furry haunches trembling
terrified to betray a sign of life –
its only hope is not to catch
the triumphant, hot yellow gaze
of the stooping hawk
stretching out gleaming talons
cruel curved beak gaping in a grim
mockery of a grin
as it dives, screaming with joy
in anticipation of the kill.

likewise, anyone who’s been preyed upon
by someone who claims to love you
or is tethered to you
by bonds of blood or obligation –
birth certificates, marriage licenses –
knows how to cry silently.
because predators have no mercy –
if the hunter sighting on a target
ever truly gazed into the luminous
and limpid pools of light
that live in the eyes of a deer,
the shot could not fail to miss the heart –
and being caught is so much worse
when you survive each attack.
if you live to cry another day,
you may try to find someone
weaker than you,
someone you could take
if it came down to a fight.
but humans have so many weapons:
strong muscles, crushing weight,
sharp nails and sharper words,
withering, wounding,
planting the seeds of hatred
and self-doubt that grow to loom-
ing forests of dark thoughts in the rich loam
of your unexamined soul.

because if you have ever felt like prey,
steeped your animal body long enough
in that elemental terror,
the only thing that stills the fear
is to become a predator yourself,
in a vain effort to kill
the tiny, trembling part of you
that once was helpless,
that had no choice
but to live in fear of being hurt
with no strategy but escape.
inside every predator is a prey animal denied –
sick of hiding, sick of hurting –
who wants to be on the blunt end
of the stick this time.

but.
there will always be
another animal in the jungle
who is stronger than you.
stalking and killing
whatever pitiful prey you can find
can’t protect you from
the predator above you
preying upon you
to obtain a moment’s respite
from the fear that haunts their dreams.

I’ve been preyed upon, and
hurt others because of it –
the desperate, feral lashing out
of a wounded animal caught in a trap
who bites the one who tries to free it –
but I propose a paradigm shift.
humanity can choose to rise above
the petty daily struggles,
the crushing drama that consumes us.
We don’t need to beat nor be beaten.
transcend your animal nature,
gentle your body to tranquility
and meet me in the soul planes
on the wide, free plains of the mind
which knows neither fear nor death.