"Day of Needs"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 19 2002 4:31 PM

Day of Needs

To hear Jennifer Clarvoe read "Day of Needs," click here.

I need a form—vertical? horizontal?
(from the side, or full-frontal?)
suicidal, or just mental?
or (I'm thinking toothache) dental?

I need a form—elaborate? simple?
(neither gap-toothed grin, nor dimple)
spare or (spare me) ample?
would you like a free sample?

I need a form—try Chinese menu?
(intimate or public venue?)
loony bin, I've already been—you
think I'm trying to lose or win you?

I need a form—for neither/either
both/and friendly/heavy breather
down to earth and lost in ether
(oh brother)

I need a form—for what I need
some alphabet to write & read
(first see-saw, then gone to seed)
(don't plead)

I need a form—for I don't know
any more than the next guy oh
next best, next to nothing, no
news is good, or make it so

I need a form like a hole in my head
my heart, my sole, my empty bed
the books that I've already read
& day-old bread

Whatever form of need you take
(or knead & bake)
can't have your cake
& eat it. Ache.

Jennifer Clarvoe's first book, Invisible Tender, won the 2001 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She teaches at Kenyon College.