The Obesion


Before I grew this spacesuit I was trim.
I saw it in a doctor’s report:
“The subject is an athletic-appearing
White male in no apparent distress.”
I was thirty six.
Now I wheeze after sex.

I want to be lean as whole grain linguini
Fresh-squeezed from a pasta machine,
But I don’t want to leave this screen
Except for snail mail and cigarettes.
When flamed in a spectrophotometer
I want my hair and nails
Free of toxic wavelengths,
This sleeping bag around my hips
Devoid of carcinogenic benzenes.
But I don’t want to be healthy
Bad enough to change, to rock
This pleasant homeostasis, so I cover
Wardrobe mirrors with paper to neck-level,
Try to accept myself at face value.

II A Royal Excuse

Hawaiians once believed
That mana was proportional to mass,
So royalty were encouraged to overeat,

Newton’s laws before they knew
Europeans thought it gauche
To serve Captain Cooke stew.

It’s sad their kings and queens
Died young of heart disease
From poi-filled arteries.
But is this such a bad thing?
Look how long Prince Charles
Has waited to be king.

III Romance

Backstage at the Roxy
Tongue-in-ear signals coke-and-screw,
Quick tryst with the leggy brunette
Who won’t let me see her naked in the morning light
Despite her perfect breasts and soap-smooth skin.
Such modesty! She’s the girl I’d marry
If I were thinner (and she drug-free).

I can always score in Palm Springs
Among the rich and prematurely wrinkled
Who spread it for the sun before they knew
What ultraviolet could do. Sadly, there’s no
Re-Barbification to undergo
To heal their ravaged skin.

With just a set of four-star keys
I snare these ultraviolet casualties
Beside their five-star pools and palms,
These fiftyish bleached-blondes
Lavished with jewels to misdirect
My eye from what they failed to protect.
Their passionate grip on coquetry
While growing old ungracefully
I find grotesquely charming,
Poor solar mummies preening for a stiff,
Their Colgate smiles still disarming.

“Gems never let me down
The way men do,” says Gretchen.
“You should try a cock-ring” Betty says.
“Or a vacuum pump” says Doris.
“Huh?” “Oh, never mind!”
They laugh in chorus,
Nests emptied of their captors,
These clawless, monied raptors,
Packing Viagra for the older horses.

IV Design Flaws

One problem with bipedal vertebrates
Is that our inside’s too much outside,
Organs barely wrapped in flesh
Like newspaper around day-old fish
Then hung upon a spinal column
Like a scarecrow on a stake.
If we had rigid exoskeletons like bugs
We’d all have the same shape
No matter how overweight.

A roach who overeats can molt
From a trailer to a luxury coach
Without losing his figure.
Its symmetry returns, the amber curves,
The plated abdomen rock-hard,
The same thin legs and arms
Much stronger than they look.
Oh that I were a beetle on parade,
My uniform cinched tight beneath gold braid!

V The Book of Lard

An angel appeared to me
In robes of cheese with crisp tortilla wings,
Plump though severe.
His wagging jowls decreed:

“You shall have a son and name him ‘Lard.’
He shall lounge like an elephant seal
Before the big screen television
And slurp sugary cereal all day (with whole milk).
He shall be driven to school and excused from PE.
He shall eat chicken livers wrapped in bacon
And scoop the yolk from deviled eggs,
Leaving the shiny whites behind like toilet bowls.
You will raise him like a veal calf,
Endurance slight and posture slack,
Weak muscles marbled in delicious fat.
Behold, when he comes of age,
The ignorant will judge him for his sedentary style,
Mocking his inner peace as “fat denial”
With videos of coronaries crammed with sludge
And a surgeon general’s warning slapped on fudge.
But he shall overcome them by his word:

“Bears run over thirty mph despite their fat.
I’m smart as Einstein and quick as a cat.
Lord Death will just as surely suck your marrow.
Why put on airs because your coffin’s narrow?
Diet and exercise are overrated.
Car crash tomorrow! sated or unsated.”

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The Obesion