How to Survive Surviving a Crisis

Poet and professor Orchid Tierney has organized a virtual reading series called Distāntia. She calls it “an experimentation with intimate social distancing through remote access poetry.”

My poem is about the value that people who are often forgotten bring to a crisis. The wisdom of survival doesn’t always wear a three piece suit. Sometimes it wears a Chewbacca onesie and hides out in its blanket fort, thank you very much.

Congratulations to Augur Mag!

This poem was written to celebrate Augur Magazine reaching their 200th backer on their Kickstarter. Yay! If you’d like to back them, click here. Even if you can’t, please share the Kickstarter wherever you can. And no matter what, enjoy this promised poem about space cake.

Happy Birthday to Me
by H. E. Casson

Dear mom,
From here in space
I think of you
While eating cake

Another thought
It made me stop

Is that I’ll never lick the blades

You know –
From when you beat the eggs
And sugar
Flour, butter, cream
And then you’d scream
“Turn that thing off
And get this treat!”

(There always was a thing –
A TV
Game
Computer screen)

Off it’d go
And you would show me 
How to lick 
Between the blades
Until we’d made
A mess of us

I’ll tell you

Cake in outer space
Is soft and moist
To keep its shape
It floats and clings
The crew all sings
From pouches
Happy birthday squeezed

And I am seized
By memories of you
And how I’ll never lick the blades
Created by a cake you’ve made

I traded cake for
Outer space

And outer space is bigger than
The memories we make

Than the smell of chocolate cake

I ate a thin girl for breakfast today

by H. E. Casson

I ate a thin girl for breakfast today
I heard her bones crackle as they gave way
I watched my belly grow in size
I saw the fat distending my thighs
She tasted like two-day-old gristly chicken
I thought, as my arms touched my sides as they thickened

I ate a skinny girl for lunch
I heard her crunch

I ate a slender girl for dinner
She didn’t even flinch
She swallowed the air until she was thinner
Counted every inch

I ate a thin girl for breakfast today
(I used to be like you, I grinned)
In keeping my promise
I fed her a steak
Then carefully shovelled her in

I ate a thin girl last night as a snack
I was a thin girl and I’m not going back

Published in the Meat issue of (Ex)cite magazine in Winter, 2001.
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At Times I Hate You, Emily

by H. E. Casson

At times I hate you, Emily
Though as a poet my love is due you

I hate the legendary words
That grew in your ecstatic solitary
The words that have said it all
So simply
That my prose is a tease
Seeking attention
With unnecessary frills

I hate the room on the second floor
Where you hid out the world
Denying the worth of any
Save those words
All voices, to you, were letters
Shrouded in only white
The scholars say
You shut the door
And turned us all away
So every moment that I do not hold
Every thought that I do not translate to perfection
Every distraction I indulge in
Makes me less a poet than you

Still, I love you, Emily
Though as a poet my hate is due you

I love you for how little you lived
For now your words remain
Unmarred by an overshadowing woman
Until you are not Emily the poet
But Emily the poems
They seem to have been birthed from the very ground
Organic and untainted by human intervention
Poetic purity with no intercessor

I love you because you are already dead
Any your poems are a record
Of a poet before therapy
And self-help books
And Oprah made us whole
And stole our words
Abandoned us, silent
By unburdening our hearts
And curing our muse

Emily, I love you
For as a poet, my love is due you

Published in Jones Av by Oel Press in 2001.

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Food To Spare

by H. E. Casson

“You eat meat?”
She asked, incredulous
I said no
Then I said yes
Sometimes
I suppose
It feeds my gut
And teases my nose
It sits in my throat
And flavours my tongue
It’s comfort food
From when I was young
And mother would feed me
A chop so big
I forgot when I tasted
That it was a pig

But then, she cares
Her eyes are wet
She is a cow, in dreams
I’ll bet
(Just look at those eyes)
So I rationalize

That I was hungry for almost a year
(No politics for that, I fear)
An empty belly made me see
That I eat them
Or they’ll eat me

And lettuce didn’t fill me up
And orange juice didn’t please my cup
But a pizza pie with bacon strips
Pleased my lips

Reminding me of mother’s chops
The happy smell in butcher shops
And times when hunger was not there
And times when I had food to spare

Published in the Meat issue of (Ex)cite magazine in Winter, 2001.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.