On A Diet

By William Matthews 1942–1997 William Matthews

Eat all you want
but don’t swallow it.
—Archie Moore

The ruth of soups and balm of sauces
I renounce equally. What Rorschach saw
in ink I find in the buttery frizzle
in the sauté pan, and I leave it behind,   
and the sweet peat-smoke tang of bananas,   
and cream in clots, and chocolate. I give
away the satisfactions of food and take
desire for food: I’ll be travelling light

to the heaven of revisions. Why be   
adipose: an expense, etc.,
in a waste, etc.? Something like
the body of the poet’s work, with its
pale shadows, begins to pare and replace
the poet’s body, and isn’t it time?   

William Matthews, “On a Diet” from Selected Poems and Translations, 1969-1991. Copyright © 1992 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Selected Poems and Translations 1969-1991 (1992)

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Poet William Matthews 1942–1997

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Eating & Drinking, Life Choices, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Activities, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 William  Matthews


William Matthews's poetry has earned him a reputation as a master of well-turned phrases, wise sayings, and rich metaphors. Much of Matthews's poetry explores the themes of life cycles, the passage of time, and the nature of human consciousness. In another type of poem, he focuses on his particular enthusiasms: jazz music, basketball, and his children. His early writing was free-form and epigrammatic. As his career has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Eating & Drinking, Life Choices, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Activities, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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