when will the sugar rise boiling against me?

My blood must be part syrup by now.

For weeks I’ve cut refined sugar and honey in favor of maple syrup. I don’t know the science but it seems more healthy, more vegan, more LL Bean for chrissake. People who eat maple syrup also eat carob. I’m pretending to worship a healthier god. Bacchus, forgive me.

Maple syrup’s sweetness plays modest cousin to the ecstatic sap of the meadows; its copper is a sober sugar. I add syrup to plain yogurt and banana for breakfast, and sauté it with tamari sauce and vegetables for lunch. I feel devout in the church of insulin. I’m time-releasing the sweet circulation of a maple tree into my system; I’m an honorary branch, blood sister to forests of hemorrhaged trees.

Of course in a week or so I’ll be back at it; my feet will dissolve in puddles, nothing but sugar. I’ll be striking the ground with my thyrsus, and milk and honey will spring forth like Hades’ steeds and claim me. Sweetness always finds me.

Poet James Dickey railed against the loss of physical pleasure in his incandescent poem “Under Buzzards,” a diabetic’s paean to sugar and alcohol, the dizzying heights the body can climb to and fall from.” To me this is one of the most sacred poems ever written. In the video, Dickey’s sick and  looking a little rough around the edges but his voice is golden and he’s preaching my life’s philosophy.

He writes:

“When will the sugar rise boiling against me
and my brain be sweetened to death?”

I can’t stand most recordings of poems, my own included – they sound so rehearsed and phony and grandiose –  but his voice, his accent, his realness, his delivery is so childlike and unassuming. I’m especially charmed by all of the colloquial “you know’s?” in his introduction.

May we all look our birds in the eyes and be sweetened to death.

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