Nicole Santalucia

out of hunger 
after Mary O.

what we are made of eventually makes something else.
the day fools us. the dishes are dirty. hummingbirds arrive.
in every poem. wilderness eats us from the inside. 
while you gather food, we foolishly wander behind you. 
we soak our bones in poison. convince ourselves of dirt.
this isn’t a giving. no. we make anger out of acorns.

willingness and slippery! it’s been twenty-one years 
since my last drink. I narrate it every day as if the drink 
will talk back like a god made of pine needles. and bluebells 
shoot at my feet. and this is the dance. high knees. hopping 
on the grass next to the garden. my wife in the kitchen window.
the daffodils in bloom. this exhilaration would have turned 
into pain, had I not been able to share it with you.

A Bowl of Fruit on the Table

In this case, I am not the alcoholic.  

It’s bananas.                        Since before childhood,
pure drug addiction and sticks and stones                   and paper plates.                    

I splash around like yellow fruit.                Before it splatters, it swaps itself out for my legs

and the cinematic quality heightens.            Coincidentally, Anne Miller is trending                     in everyone’s garden.                               I cut                         my fingernails.                               

In the kitchen,                                               brown bananas disembody their artform. 

Imagine an encounter with the process of elimination. 
I am a boobied dinosaur in pursuit of fiber.

Just before the power goes out, all the bananas 
                                                                           point to a version of me brushing my teeth 
as I spit into an old hierarchy of values             and a pile of dirty spoons. 

On Monday, I held a banana like a bird and collapsed.

From the Author: These poems rise and fall out of hunger, out of addiction, and into desperation. They embody alcoholic/addict personas—one that survives and one that collapses. Both escape suffering by following the fruit that feeds them. The acronym HALT, in some sober communities, suggests a pause in the wake of triggers that have the power to poke the beast of the disease. In my recovery, I practice paying attention to my body, mind, and spirit when I am in HALT—Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired—and I mindfully pause and assess. These poems are two versions of my own alcoholism/addiction. One poem intentionally pauses to feed, nurture, and fill back up. The other flails and falls victim to the ferocity of self-centeredness present in the disease. “out of hunger” breathes and spiritually creates a connection with my poetic and queer lineage; in other words, it holds hands with the spirit of Mary Oliver. “A Bowl of Fruit on the Table” chokes on the gay, on the self, on the banana—if the opposite of sobriety is separation, then the latter poem is an act of disembodiment. These poems are part of my current manuscript, “Lesbian Dinosaurs / Dinosaur Lesbians.”

Nicole Santalucia is the author of The Book of Dirt (NYQ Books), Spoiled Meat (Headmistress Press), and Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as The Best American Poetry, Palette Poetry, The Colorado Review, North American Review, Los Angeles Review, as well as other journals and anthologies. She teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.