Poem That Won’t End

I wish I were a cannibal so I could cook you and put you on a plate
and eat you up but a magic cannibal so you would come back tomorrow
and I’d prepare you in a new way and eat you all over again
or, wait, not a magic cannibal but a cannibal who lives on a magic island
where people who are crazy about each other just keep devouring
the other person every day and then do it again and again and again.
Today I think I’d like to roll you gently in flour, then dip you in
an egg wash and some bread crumbs and slide you into a skillet
in which I have heated butter and olive oil and cook you for three
minutes on one side and two on the other and put a slice of cheese
on you and stick you in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.
I’d like to make a carrot soufflé out of you. Or a sandwich. But not
just any sandwich: one of those jumbo hot dogs the Chileans call
a completo and for good reason because it’s slathered in tomato
and pickle and guacamole and mayonnaise and sauerkraut and whatever
else you want to put on it. A completo has to have a lot of toppings
or else it’s not completo. Or a Primanti Bros. sandwich from
the famed Pittsburgh deli of that name that consists of capicola
and provolone topped with french fries and cole slaw and tomato
slices on sourdough. Or wait, I know, the Monte Cristo, which is
truly the Cadillac of sandwiches in that you make it by putting
turkey and ham on Dijon-coated white bread which you coat
with a well-beaten egg and cook until brown on both sides and then
sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with red currant jelly
alongside for dipping, although you’d be delicious dipped in anything.
I’m certainly not going to turn you into a strawberry pretzel salad!
It’s not even a salad, though also delicious. I’d like to smother you,
by which I mean not put a pillow over your face but first make a roux
out of flour and vegetable oil the way they do in Cajun country
and add onion and celery and garlic and chicken broth and then immerse
you and cook you on the lowest heat possible until you emerge tender.
Tender . . . listen to me! How could you possibly be more tender
than you are now! Or sweeter. Notice that I haven’t mentioned dessert.
Why would I? You’re sweeter than ten desserts—a hundred!
If I eat you and dessert both, I couldn’t eat anything for the next three
days except insulin lollipops. I wish you were a shot of whiskey
so I could toss you down my throat or a bottle of beer so I could chug
you on a hot day or a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo so I could
sip you slowly in the presence of one of the yummy dishes I have
described above even though that means I’d be consuming you twice,
which, come to think of it, is not the worst idea I’ve had lately.
I wish you were a cigar so I could stick one end of you in my mouth
and light the other. I wish I were a cigar as well so we could both
go up in smoke. Let’s send smoke signals to everyone on the mainland.
We’ll tell all the other lovers to join us. Bring your toques, lovers!
Or should it just be us? Romantic dinner for two or Bruegel-esque
banquet with dogs and children and big thick-bodied Dutch peasant
types larking about to the tune of a drum and pipe band. And dice,
of course. Peasants love to gamble. Who doesn’t? Why, the first time
I saw you, you were doubling down at the blackjack table, and I myself
am hardly averse to a hand of baccarat or chemin de fer. Did you hear
that? Dinner bell! I think I’ll marinate you for two hours or maybe
overnight in lemon and garlic and olive oil and thyme and


David Kirby’s collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Kirby is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” Kirby’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His latest poetry collection is Get Up, Please.