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It isn’t sight or sound or taste I’ve missed
the most—I’d been deprived of each before—
but routine, trusty touch, which we ignore
promiscuously: the way my two lips kissed
each other, and my tongue lolled on its bed;
pressures of hair on scalp, ribs on the inner
wall of my chest…I crave those more than dinner,
even, or sex. Tubed fluids keep me fed;
electrodes keep my blood flow as banal,
correct, and calm as my experimenters;
a few last cells in shriveled pleasure centers
want to want more, but lack the wherewithal.
To hell with them: they always did come first.
To feel my throat at all is all my thirst.




Austin Allen’s debut poetry collection, Pleasures of the Game (Waywiser), was awarded the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. He has taught creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cincinnati.



Image courtesy of Codioful, via Unsplash. 

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