Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Skin hunger

by Annie Stenzel

That my flesh is relentlessly thirsty has been true
for years: the juice my youth used to generate
long gone; the Mojave now papers my arm.

But I’ve just learned a term that frightens me—
one of those phrases that, once read, reverberates
inside your head like a temple gong.

This morning’s find derailed me. Who knows
if I will suffer from this strange disorder—
me, solo for all these years, plus months

plus days. It was details from the experiment
that rocked my soul: the obscure scientist who found
that baby monkeys would choose starvation

with a pseudo-mother made of softest wool
over survival with a creature made of metal that would
feed it milk, but couldn’t cuddle worth a damn.

* * * * *

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, isacoustic*, Pine Hills Review, Poets Reading the News, The Lake, and U n l o s t, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit

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