This poem arises from A K Mimi Allin’s project hunger. Learn more about hunger here:

Photo of the artist performing hunger at the Nepo 5K Don’t Run 2013 by Kari Champoux.


four weeks ago
i began a work called hunger
about being dead
and coming to life again
for this i fasted 14 days
i took only water and salt
then i opened myself to you
invited you to nourish me
on saturday 7 september
i sat for 6 hours on king street
in the international district in seattle
i didn’t know if you would come to me
i didn’t know if you could nourish me
i didn’t know if i could receive you
but i wanted to if you wanted to
and you did so i did
understanding this was a big shift
i said i’d rely on you for a time
two weeks i said
i’d rely on you and only you
then i’d take it on myself again
nourish myself in a new way
what could you give me
what could i take from you
i didn’t know
what is nourishment anyway
when the time came
you gave me everything
i needed and more
you rescued me from need
so now i have the universe
the blue skies and all the earth
my horn is full
you made me into a human shrine
and i can keep that in my shaman’s bag
all the magic and purity you put on me
i had all the color and music
and attention i could ever need
and the time to receive it
i had crystals and hearts
and hands and eyes
i had a mind(fullness)
that took up residence in me
and gives resonance now
you filled my stores with love
and hope and assurance and grace
i had belgian chocolates in golden trays
cucumbers tomatoes ripe avocados
giddy black and blue berries
flying saucer squash coconut water
chicken broth carrot juice
gold and all the earth
nothing was an afterthought
everything was an unstaged premeditated act
the nutella cream crackers protein bars and green tea
the soap incense bath salts and books
you took
the shirt off your back
and the jewelry from your neck
you said wear it for me
and i did
just two weeks before
you’d given me your worries
and taught me about your fears
now you giving me your nourishment
and it taught me how to nourish you
i’m saving this trick for a rainy day
so when you sneeze
i can give you a tissue dog
i know that in this unordinary
silent movie
we’re all primus ordiri
and emptiness comes first
when the clutter is gone
i can be your shade cloud rain cloud broken umbrella
i can be a sleeping watch
i wonder though
can i be have i been
am i nourishing you
in this quiet movie
on this silent stage
can i know you better
can we eat laugh drink more easily
be more silent more free
can we walk still farther
can i help you be more of who you are
what i want now
is a highway of artists to travel upon
and something savory for every one
a crouton is first bread
then dead then rises again
everything is set so before you
it is you who gives it life
when i am with you
let me be with you
when i am alone
let it be utterly so
my skin cannot turn out the wind
alone is my dictionary
in it i find the spirits
who breathe into me
your letters are slipping in and out
of my mail slot
my porch light
is there to buzz
in your ears
this pathway
is inviting our swollen feet
everything is available
if we know how to look for it
when you invite me to see you
i will see you
when i give you something
let it be something prized
that shows the shape of my heart
which is not where or what you think it is
it is in my stomach pocket hat
i emptied it into a cloud last night
it lifted me up
i have a view
that is sustaining me now
you give me a resting place
best put shot form
thrown rice a pile of salt
thank you for being ripe and rare
not everyone deserves my anger attention
you could have my tears
unpremeditated uncaught gravitas
i would give you my whole half quarter length
my 99% you know
my mind is slimming down
your thoughts are my culture
i’m as plain and tough as a radish
thank you voice of my body
thank you mood
there is only room in my mind
like the moon i’m coming back
withholding thanks
growing empty sleeping
what i’m drinking
is fresh and raw
what i’m spitting out is cooked
time takes what is cooked
bread and time
i have no use for these things
i can live on air & rain & roses now
my body is no longer fraught
i can reset myself
re-know what i knew
i am cast in bronze and waterproof
i can break my line yet my line persists
hunger is when you don’t know what nourishes you
hunger is when you’re turned off to yourself
beware your fullness
for fullness is nearing hunger
and hunger is a dangerous answer
sated has no mind
and hunger is its warning sign
but here’s a secret
you have a valve
in your fattest view of life
turn it off and you’ll see
you didn’t give me coffee
wine or mountains
you gave me time
vegetation fruits
the finer things and love
your promises are a kinship
you were right about one thing
the intention you put into a thing
is how it nourishes
you were wrong about another
it’s not the plenty
but the scarcity that nourishes me
i know i need to walk farther than this
i have a long long way to go
but i’m traveling a highway of artists
and that a fine fine way to go
i need an ocean still and trees
i need my knees
i need long unfettered times and quietude
torn schedules deep wells of ink
days and days to dream away
to come to the nothing
i’m working through

a k mimi allin
saturday 21 september 2013

A K Mimi Allin is a conceptual artist living in Seattle. She invites her audience to transform by transforming herself.


Feature photo courtesy of /

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