Starving is the Energy by Stacy Szymaszek


Orpheus enters
the afterlife
donning afterlife
surgical gloves

doubling as a paper
bag for hyper-
ventilation doub-
ling as a puffer fish
blowie or toady

moving but motionless
as the habit of being
your own worst enemy

the poet has this inflated toad
full of afterlife air

a bubble to be placed in the vein
so state of the art
nostril breathing freedom
in the spirit battle


my priors
my poems

attempts of a court
jester to ride a wild pig
tempting an omnivorous

a pact to eat each other’s

muddy trudge
to the chickens
where I sang
hungry chicken

the 26th member
of the chorus

a pact to eat each other’s

one cat emerged
from the woodpile
and said she loved me
before throwing herself
at the chicken fence

a pact to eat each other’s

yonder bend to the
loafing shed where a cow
lowered her head and
flicked her horns

a pact to eat each other’s


now successor
now sovereign
and free to call home

my floating DNA

from war torn regions
and wombs

now death
enters my room
per hour
is incidental
secret of secrets
by god through
the old pipes

to conjugate in scummy


Famous Hermits is Stacy Szymaszek‘s seventh book of poetry. Her book Pasolini Poems and chapbook Three Novenas were published in 2022. She is the recipient of a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant in poetry. From 2007 to 2018, she was the director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York City. She currently lives in the Hudson Valley.

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