The Animal Hungers


Fifth Estate # 401, Summer 2018

The animal hungers
for light and strength
He hungers
Killing himself while hunting
fatally and the last
Hunger springs
There are beasts without burden
that dance / grow fiery
They warily drink water
Famine distorts
Tea or sugar or bread
or fuel
or a tender hand?
The animal hungers
for goodness
The famished grow fat
leaving scraps for neither him
nor her
who remained with her cubs
The animal hungers
Tramps through trenches
up slopes
Sets out
He rears up on both paws and ransacks a beehive
Spreads his wings and throws himself from a cliff
The animal hungers
when he moves with the flock
or sells his lungs, his eyes
his goodness, his fury
hangs from meat hooks
There is no slaughterer without slaughterhouses
there is a journal. a story. a bus
and the barrio where he who writes grew up
There are massacres
Slaughterers dressed as generals in plastic aprons
or doctors in white coats
the chemists the priests enrobed
Or gold buttons / stripes
or suits
or sweaty
When the animal hungers
Everything trembles
Books crumble
The earth quakes
Autumn flowers bloom in the garden
In the gazebo unreal and necessary
the breeze rushes
people stroll by
Home is one
who smokes sitting in the patio of his house
or in a hotel
or silently waits in the corner of his
or lingers outside
until they open the door
Hunger squeezes through crevices
Cuts grooves
Climbs fences
But the animal doesn’t wait
grows weak or devours
He is hungry
and cold
He doesn’t know how to live
with pain and anguish
but tries
He prepares tea / bathes
or doesn’t
He has had enough
Dips his bread
Sits still a moment

Jesús Sepúlveda teaches at the University of Oregon in Eugene. He is the author of eight collections of poetry and three books of essays, including his green-anarchist manifesto, The Garden of Peculiarities, and his book on Latin American poetry, Poets on the Edge.

Translated from Spanish by Bill Rankin