Blessings After the Meal

By Erik Bendix

Cinching along

Its rope of food

My gut slipped its grip

And floored me

At least my teeth

Still work

My head whips

On leash to my tongue

Which wraps itself

Around words

Trying to suckle

Whatever presents itself

For mammals like me

Even a dictionary

Is a kind of breast

I feast on words

I have ingested

I wish I had

Thrown up atDachau

The way my friend did

In the parking lot

I made the mistake

Of swallowing

My religion being but a

Parenthesis around meals

But some toxins

Do better to roar

Out either end

They’ll kill you

If you hold them in

Sometimes a mouth

Numbed by dentistry

Or vapid baby food

Or mindless news

Is a poor judge

Of what to bite off

But the stomach

Always knows

Its pyloric sphincter

Is Dante’s inner gate

To how many crimes

You will invite inside

To become a part of you

Or turn away at the door

To go back to whatever

Hell they came from

As I chew my words

And prepare to


I ask myself

What my children

Will eat and absorb

And become


Erik Bendix loves vitality and texture in words. His poetry distills many decades spent digesting his family’s Holocaust survival, living in the woods, exploring world dance, and finding joy in music. A student of movement arts from Tai Chi to Rumi’s dervish whirling, he listens for the cadences of movement in words, and for where those cadences draw life from the body. He has translated all of Rilke’s Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus into English, the latter into full sonnet form to capture the resonance and flow of the original.

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