Field Ration

there is a loaf
made from blood-yeast and wheat-bone--
it is a poison loaf.

when the cramp comes, keep your face sweet.
keep the grave ready and the candle lit--
to starve is for others; for you, to eat
such spoils, such plunder, such unwholesome shit.

there is a loaf
made from boot heels and royal red--
it is a poison loaf.

for marian's challenge at real toads--sinead o'connor

photograph: burial cairns at isandlwana


Isadora Gruye said…
"when the cramp comes, keep your face sweet"

See this line right here delivered like a sickle blow after your great first stanza highlights why I like your work so much, this is the subtle commentary I could not imagine but smiled like a jack ass when I read it.

this piece to me is about a spoiled communion, such unwholesome shit, and all the weight and history that can come from a slice of heavy ritual.

Gorgeous work, onward!
Anonymous said…
Because you begin with "field ration," I think of those gathering leftover wheat in the fields---like Ruth in the Bible story. She picks up the remnants left behind, the scraps. Working fingers to the bone---blood, sweat, tears, and all that.

And because I tend to think in a twisted sort of way, I'll confess the union of blood yeast and bone makes me think of a woman and man, you know, "combining" to make bread rise.

That can certainly be poisonous. As can working yourself to death, realizing that your service is killing you. But even though you're slowly being poisoned (like in Flowers in the Attic), keep smiling and don't let anyone know you're in pain.

You're gettin' nasty at the end, telling this person he/she is being kicked and bloodied to death, an ironic sort of royalty ... like someone chained to a throne. Maybe this is a spiritual reference---serving for the wrong reasons (obviously the communion elements are there).

It's interesting that the poison was acquired intentionally---spoils and plunder. But things didn't turn out exactly as planned, I suppose.
Kerry O'Connor said…
This is excellent - the voice is quite different from your other work - or should I say, even grittier, and more melancholy. You prepare the bitter loaf and make sure we taste it.

Btw: Isandlwana is just "down the road" from where I live, a matter of no more than 150 kms. The descendants of British soldiers (myself included) live side by side with the descendants of Zulu warriors, sharing the land over which so much blood was shed. So it goes.
Mary said…
Strong poem here, Shay, with ominous undertones!
Marian said…
holy. "keep your face sweet." savoring this one, shay.
hedgewitch said…
You skewer the terminal sadness of humanity here, the worst disease we carry, war, and put it on the cross for all to view for exactly what it is. Fine, biting and bitter, and leaves the reader cold as death.
Maude Lynn said…
This is deeply chilling.
Ella said…
Damn, remind me to stay at home and eat!
I feel a chill in the winds of change!
Powerful loaf you served~
Anonymous said…
The title at least hints at the pastoral, but the first line tells us right away that there will be no posies and parasols, thank you very much. It's tight, spare in the best sense of the word, and packs a lotta punch in a little space.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Wow, the bitter loaf. Powerfully done. Love Kerry's comment too.
Margaret said…
I DO understand how spiritual rituals can be hated, but some do find comfort in them, believe in them... I just wish those that caused the hurt didn't do it in the name of "religious belief".

Nice, emotional poem! It makes me sad, though.