Earth Cafeteria

By Linh Dinh b. 1963 Linh Dinh
Mudman in earth cafeteria,
I eat aardwolf. I eat ant bear.
I eat mimosa, platypus, ermine.
“White meat is tasteless, dark meat stinks.”
(The other white meat is pork, triple X.)
Rice people vs. bread people.
White bread vs. wheat bread.
White rice vs. brown rice.
Manhattan vs. New England.
Kosher sub-gum vs. knuckle kabob.
“What is patriotism but love of the foods one had as a child?”*
To eat stinky food
is a sign of savagery, humility,
identification with the earth.
“It was believed that after cleaning, tripe still contained ten percent
excrement which was therefore eaten with the rest of the meal.”**
Today I’ll eat Colby cheese.
Tomorrow I’ll eat sparrows.
Chew bones, suck fat,
bite heads off, gnaw on a broken wing.
Anise-flavored beef soup smells like sweat.
A large sweaty head bent over
a large bowl of sweat soup.
A Pekinese is ideal, will feed six,
but an unscrupulous butcher
will fudge a German sheperd,
chopping it up to look like a Pekinese.
Toothless man sucking
a pureed porterhouse steak
with a straw.
Parboiled placenta.
To skewer and burn meat is barbaric.
To boil, requiring a vessel, is a step up.
To microwave.
People who eat phalli, hot dogs, kielbasas
vs. people who eat balls.
To eat with a three-pronged spear and a knife.
To eat with two wooden sticks.
To eat with the hands.
Boiling vs. broiling.
To snack on a tub of roasted grasshoppers at the movies.

*Lin Yutang
**Mikhail Bakhtin

Linh Dinh, "Earth Cafeteria" from All Around What Empties Out. Copyright © 2003 by Linh Dinh.  Reprinted by permission of Tinfish Press.

Source: All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish Press, 2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Linh Dinh b. 1963

Subjects Activities, Eating & Drinking, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

 Linh  Dinh


Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the U.S. in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), four books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish 2003), American Tatts (Chax 2005), Borderless Bodies (Factory School 2006) and Jam Alerts (Chax 2007), with a novel, Love Like . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Eating & Drinking, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.