The Human Animal

We had mahi mahi for dinner tonight,
which is the dolphin fish, not the mammal,
but the fish four foot long and green along
the surface skimming chasing the flying fish.
Even the name is a lie, since dolphin
means womb, and these fish don’t have one, layers
of eggs, these coldblooded denizens of warm waters,
trolling the vastness of the open ocean.

And, yes, we ate them. The meat was sweet.
I would say you could taste the ocean, but
you really couldn’t. They came in the mail
in a big square box, packed in ice and vegetables.

That’s me, top predator, no sea too distant
or danger too great, that I can’t order it,
with a click.

at the grocery store

here we gather   our hunting days are over
along the rows   of limes and lemons   the  tomatoes
and celery  and  leaves of lettuce     in plastic bags
and  in summer   watermelons   pregnant  bellies 
huddled together   and meat   displayed   in cold cases
along aisles    reminding  us  that we are   animals

here we are  trudging   oblivious   searching  sustenance
young couples  clutching   each other’s hips   women 
with children clinging   wheedling sweets  from indulgence
and single men, calloused and paint  splattered with 
single meals and beer with no basket   the old people
meticulous slowly choosing their  pleasures   meager 
delights afforded by a monthly  check, and they move
at the pace   they’ve learned   that life passes, and we 

are all here   together   mostly unaware  as we stand   
in aisles  in front of displays   of the needs   of the life
the common cravings  shared as we weave around 
each other   rushed and  mostly  grumpy   but blessed 
are those  who are hungry  and  those who thirst  the tired    
oppressed   the counters  of change    and coupons 
seekers   under    these flickering  fluorescent    lights 
and in   these refrigerated   sacristies  for a soul’s needs

I let a young couple   with   a bottle of wine   and cheese
go ahead   of me   at the checkout   and feel our   unspoken
communion    and I tell    the cashier   that I like   their
purple  tipped  hair   and music   from the 70’s   blares
through  the loudspeaker  and  I pay  and  I pray  and
I  say     thank you    thank you         thank you.

into me

I believe that things flow into me;
fingers, nose, and eyes and ears, portals all,
even at the mouth the essences of things bring
all their riches, the peculiar tart of lemon
in a tart, the musky dark of puer tea, the heat
and the aroma mixed and mixing in filling 
my mind up with what is not me.

Just the shapes of chemicals, keys that find
right receptor locks in taste buds, signals
axon and dendrites sparking up into this bone
cased brain, but still they flow in me.

I never grow tired of the simple magic it is
my purpose, my function to be a ballroom floor
on which the natures of things can prance and mingle.
Chamomile, verbena, and lavender; bergamot, 
mint, and rose; mugwort and sweet fern. The world 
is rich with tastes and smells, and I am never more alive 
than when the essence of something else is filling me, 
home in which they can live in ways not open to themselves, 
embraces, lover’s tangles sensations spilling out and thrilling, 
tastes and tingles, life existing not alone. 

About the author:

David Banach teaches philosophy in New Hampshire where he tends chickens, keeps bees, and looks for lessons in the sky. He has published poems most recently in Hooligan Magazine, Evocations Review, Last Leaves, The Liminal Review, and October Hill. He also does the Poetrycast podcast for Passengers Journal. Find him on Twitter @banach, Instagram @@zbandban and Facebook

Feature image by Garreth Paul on Unsplash