Alan Morrison

Tales of the Empty Larder

I can’t stand scant catechisms
of tremors in an empty stomach;
the stench of hunger-scented breath
where a full belly’s the only tonic;
the famished itch in-between the teeth
where only food can feed relief.

The stain won’t shift: mean-spirited strife
spoilt my appetite for living well;
splintered my spittle with bitterness;
chipped my shoulder with its scrimping chisel -
I taste it still in weak stewed blends;
in sickly stings of singed dog-ends.

I suppose the harsh lessons I scribed
inspired in me a need to dream,
to believe in insubstantial truths,
for you need a God when you can’t keep clean
and hope, when your faith overspills,
socialism will cure most ills.

But it’s often the morbid human way
to come to love what you should despise
just as, in depression, sadness comforts
with blessings of tears in tea-strained eyes;
so I feel perverse nostalgia
for those hours of hunger-fed neuralgia.

I’ve said to my brother, it’s strange to think
amid the dirt we found ideals,
a sense of justice in second-hand clothes
and transubstantiated packet meals –
the dark of a larder’s empty shelves:
where we first found ourselves.

Alan Morrison © 2001/2003/2006
First published in Don't Think of Tigers (The Do Not Press, 2001)
Eclipse magazine (2003)
The Mansion Gardens (Paula Brown, 2006) - which can be downloaded at