The basic reason for my life is that there comes a time when I am guided by a great hunger.
          ~ Clarice Lispector, The Breath of Life

“When I feel hunger, I have a reason to live.”
          ~ Clarice Lispector, The Breath of Life

My spirit has projected
this murder upon you—born

into an innate hunger. Before speech
we made our need understood.

As in: hunger came first.

Outside the sky is not quite blue
and exertion gets the blood going

so it might spray into the mouths
of every insect, mosquitoes. Blood inspires

certain kinds of hunger. Trees, in the forest,
felled and rotten. Life bleeds out

in sheets of hunger. Everything must
eat—cedar or fir or the rotting corpses

of bears. My intestines surprising likewise.
All things around me are destroying

and being destroyed. Agony in my throat.
Clouds of black nicotine, wet and

clandestine vision from all the swallowed
life. We throw parties for destruction—

everywhere: exposed brick, splintering benches,
everything coming undone. Look anywhere.

Look anywhere and you can see it—cracked paint,
the shudder of withdrawl, the crackle

of someone’s tired breath in a microphone.
When you crave truth like air

you will know the truth—if you wish.
The apple, a sweetness—the ache for pleasure,

cruelty. To reach for pleasure
is to struggle against death.

The act of living does this.

We stare at each other in a dim, to know
each other’s desires, to know the truth of each other.

And so we’ll be destroyed
in separation. Bodies wounded in loneliness.

My need is great. I am made of blood and shit and
making blood and shit—essential. A plague

of the body destroyed by
crows in the throat, searching an emptiness.

Sometimes I light candles. I set them
on the coffee table and just watch—

the wax and wick disappearing into light.
And into dark I think of disappearing.

Then the sun rises light and hunger returns
anew, a wound reopened.

Have you ever seen a person break? Heard the crack
in their voice when the weight

of survival presses their organs—disharmonic.
Radioactive how you can feel it, from the sound,

toxic—a vise. Loneliness, like hunger,
speaks a dangerous wound. Embodied void.

Our thoughts of hunger when destruction,
when loss. Desire is a destruction.

Arousal, a gravity in reverse.

I want these things: fucking love,
fucking companionship, fucking fucking—

to be fucking embodied in another’s body—to fill
absence and be filled. In the name of fucking,

the great gaping curve, the opening expands,
pulses with that gravity.

hunger craving desire need absence wound hunger
craving desire need absence wound hunger craving

desire need absence wound hunger craving desire
need absence wound

I have been loved before. It has always
been destroyed. Always destroyed outward.

Has destroyed other things—the hymen,
it bled. And desire opened a wound, continually,

a canyon. Desire a screaming free fall
in the body—an arrow

shot through the cunt to pierce the heart.
So hearts are broken, destroyed. Desire always eats

the heart eventually. Desire eating hearts eating
lovers eating meals eating each other eating

air eating earth eating future eating indiscriminately.
I once walked to the beach, the peninsula,

held to the coast with only the shortest expanse
of sand. The beach broken by

kelp, the rank flesh of it, the bugs
swarming above like vultures. Hunger

is a violence on the beach. Not far, a ship
washed ashore by a tsunami. Ripped by barnacle

and by flesh. There are times

when the tiger must rip out the throat
of the taisu—tufts of horse hair

stuck in their teeth like corn. Sometimes

all of the predators—the wolves and bears and hyenas
lay dead in the middle of the roads, dozens,

their organs all whole on the gravel.
Sometimes, the whale washes dead

ashore—a meat playground. All of fiction and sometimes life
moves towards apocalypse

and horror. The brown mottling of a leaf before it
breaks, the ripped foot

of a tree exposed, its tender inner flesh.

Apocalypse is personal
only at the moment of our own death.

We forget about the birds eating seeds
and insects, destroying life alike.

Lately, I have been dead for weeks.
I’ve let all my blood go.

I’ve let all my blood go with my hunger
for nothing. At some point, I no longer hunger for

anything. No forward no pleasure and I eat
without thinking, or just sleep. Am consumed

myself. By the desire to want anything.
A bloodless dying.

I tear my own muscles—in prayer—
to save myself—a prayer of blood—

the skin ripped from feet in motion.
And take the smallest steps to conserve

an enchantment—the perfect morning light on old growth

that practically breathes. Still, waterfalls tear
down the mountains, wear down the stone

from snowmelt. Blood blooms purple on my leg
and the bunch berries turn from white blossoms

to sharpened red. I can smell the heat the trees
give off—singed by sun.

You are nowhere to be found.
A wound, now. An absence.

Desire only means we are alive
with an emptiness

and that emptiness, at the core, is aching for—

until the gravity of sleep pulls us heavy into dark


Amber Nelson is the co-founder and poetry editor of alice blue review, and the founding editor of alice blue books and Shotgun Wedding. She is the author of several chapbooks including Diary of When Being With Friends Feels Like Watching TV and Dutch Baby Combo. Her first full-length book, In Anima: Urgency, is available from Coconut Books.  Her second book, The Human Seasons, is forthcoming from Coconut as well.