Timothy Donnelly

All the Shrimp I Can Eat
October 23, 2018 Timothy Donnelly

All the Shrimp I Can Eat

They are swimming away from me at the speed of light
They are telling me this is their preferred way to die

The conversion en masse into a single stream of brightness
Not the tenebrous slog through my digestive process

I say that’s only one part of a complex corporate sacrifice
They say fair enough but it’s the part we’d like to emphasize

Then take off, all you shrimp, you only call to mind how often
To live has felt like the long, drawn-out migration

Through the body of a god, one who elects to eat each of us
If not out of hunger, then boredom, or in an act of love impervious

To human reasoning (very possibly it’s all three at once)
And our birth is when he swallows, and his acids are events

That break us down, and after he’s extracted from
Our bodily existence what he needs, the gritty residuum

At bottom is what we call the soul, and this he then exerts
Through his infinite wisdom, grinds into a powder, and snorts.

Timothy Donnelly is the author, most recently, of The Cloud Corporation, winner of the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the chapbook Hymn to Life. A new collection, The Problem of the Many, is forthcoming with Wave Books in 2019. He is Director of Poetry at the Writing Program of Columbia University School of the Arts and lives in Brooklyn with his family.