Editor's Note: These two poems are from Francis Raven's chapbook, The Failures, which was recently published by Chippens.
They Call it Wolfing
In the end I just knew there was no way
I could have eaten all those hotdogs.
It wasn’t my first competition, but what was I thinking?
I invited everyone, my mom, her husband
(Who I absolutely refuse to call my stepdad), my sisters
And their short-term boyfriends. The thing was
It was hot. Have you ever tried to eat a lot
When it’s really hot; it’s not that easy.
It’s sort of like the sweat restricts your throat
Or sort of pokes your uvula so you gag.
I puked. It was embarrassing, but it was puke or die
And in that situation you’d probably have chosen
Much like me: I didn’t die: I failed.
I thought they’d support me
But they really didn’t.
They all sort of made fun of me and made me
Watch them eat lunch at the after-party.
That’s why I don’t really have much contact
With my family
By God I’ve scratched; bought and scratched;
The minor wins merely pique the urge to scratch: I scratch.
I know it’s not in my best interest but
I don’t scratch for a minor boost
I scratch for a qualitative difference.
I scratch for a new car, and not just any new car
But a car I can’t afford now.
I don’t even know what car that is, but I scratch for
That which could scratch me up a notch
If only scratching could stop the itch
But it just brings my needs to a froth.
If only I hadn’t seen how the other half lives,
But it’s not just the other half any more;
It’s everyone appears to live the same,
Though they can’t possibly. Thus we’re all scratching
Futilely as the swisher under the bullet proof glass spins money
Towards a disgruntled employee who knows I haven’t won
Before I do. It’s in his eyes. It’s always in his eyes
Sort of like dust rigged against me.
Francis Raven is a graduate student in philosophy at Temple University. His books include 5-Haifun: Of Being Divisible (Blue Lion Books, 2008), Shifting the Question More Complicated(Otoliths, 2007), Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005) and the novel, Inverted Curvatures (, 2005). Francis lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website: http://www.ravensaesthetica.com.