Remembrance of My Forgotten Skinniness

Article excerpt

Andrei Codrescu, poet, essayist, and editor of Exquisite Corpse, contributed his "Remembrance of My Forgotten Skinniness" to the Spring 1974 issue of Chicago Review. Recently, CODRESCU recalled the inspiration for the poem:

I wrote "In Remembrance of My Forgotten Skinniness" at the very first hint of middle-age in my late twenties. Since then I have written one hundred such works at every hint, but this one remains a true in memoriam to my enfant terribleness. The truth is that I was skinny as a match my whole adolescence and youth and then in my beer-guzzling poetic twenties I acquired a tiny pot belly which did not signify freedom, as it usually does for Eastern European men who look with satisfaction on their pot bellies as a sign of their lessening need of women, hence freedom. I was also equating I believe the carnivorous bounty of America with growing flesh and since Chicago is the very belly of that America it seemed appropriate to lament mine in the Chicago Review.

I was a man so skinny light travelled with a horrendous thump upward through my only vein which the folks, naturally alert, would point to each other at night as I stalked the mains of natural gas. Often mistaken for a street lamp I would suffer the gold urine of the mined bums. All this time I was nothing. I had no purpose. A hack doctor polishing with spit a scalpel. A wall in a church where they've buried a tractor. I was a man so skinny I stuck to paper and screamed at the letters. …