I decided to claim more space
But I chose the opposite
What are the words I would go to: hunger// longing// love
When you feel drawn to something you should.
Whatever your terrible is is up to you.
The question is how you lead.
I lead myself to distress; I lead myself to happiness.
This is the history of our times.
I claw my way to the surface.
I get a hold of this world with my teeth
& wolf down what I thirst for.
How do I take the I out of here?
(why should I take the I out?)


I am always hungry
I am always thinking of my next meal
Is it the New Yorker in me?
Is it the preemie in me?
Is it just the want?


We all have our oddities.
I am always trying to be practical, logical, rational,
but it doesn’t always add up.
There is so much of my life that I am forever holding under the light.
What falls below the seam?
What falls outside of this poem?


I want to put the happy in.
I want to put the hard world in.
I want to say this is a ballad, and so it is.
Let’s enter it differently.
Any mammal feeds a hunger
Any heart needs oxygen.

Leah Umansky’s The Barbarous Century is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2018. She is also the author of the dystopian-themed Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016), the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014), and the full length, Domestic Uncertainties (BlazeVOX, 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Boston Review, The Journal, and Thrush Poetry Journal. She is a graduate of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and teaches middle and high school English in New York City. More at www.LeahUmansky.com.

featured image via Steve Minor on Flickr.

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