• Fearsome Critters

taste buds & artichoke hearts — Robin Gow

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

*WINNER OF THE COURTNEY VALENTINE PRIZE FOR OUTSTANDING ART BY A MILLENNIAL ARTIST, VOLUME TWO, 2019* *TOP CONTRIBUTOR IN POETRY, VOLUME TWO, 2019*

i love most, the items

you can't describe the taste of.

a short list: quinces, red velvet,

& artichoke hearts;


i try to imagine how the artichokes

might grow & i think that

they are fire-birds tucked

into themselves, dormant,

waiting to be awakened

by olive oil & a quartering knife.


the hearts feathered apart in my pasta

last night. i was 7 again & re-learning

how to enjoy food, wiping oil

on my thighs. there you were,

older, too old for me, holding

out a fork & begging me to

put the whole artichoke in my mouth.

you ought to choke me.


& you came inside my mouth too,

fork pointed forward,

finding a plot of loose soil,

the buds blooming all over my tongue;

a romp of wildflowers.


you picked them, making a bouquet,

& i wanted to ask you to be gentle

with my body but my mouth was full

of your feet.


you didn't taste like anything

i can name, only artichoke hearts

& olive oil.


your plate had a dead deer on

it & i reached out to scratch

behind its ear while you were

busy taking all the flowers

you could.


the deer opened its mouth

& all of a sudden there we were

on the side of the freeway,

the creature splayed & limb

as if it wasn't ever real.


when you finally crawled out

& stepped over my teeth

we were very very lost.


we found a light bulb

to walk to but it just ended up

being an unprepared artichoke,

still hard & heavy & green

& tasting like the moment

before fire. quartering

the plant, we shared

& you took out your fork

again & i took out mine

& we threaded the prongs together.