The Long Slow Suck, The Murk and Ooze by Lauren Mallett

Everything I need to hear

                        the slug churns out

in its stream of glitter:

 

                                               Eat shit and remain impeccable.

                                     Burma Road is for napping.

                                                           Mucous is sacred.

                                                 You don’t even try at it.

  

             ***

 

I squat over each slug—

                                           the brunettes, the spotteds,

                                                        the bananas, the longs

                                                  and lengthenings, the stout

                                                                defensives and adolescents.

 

This nubbin rests in a coil,

                                                  ready to sick with its serum.

 

This medium slow-munches a dandelion leaf

                                   with its 27,000 rough-toothed radula tongue.

 

                       Who gets to adulthood like this?

 

             This gangly with freckles books it,

                                                                              coating the sand

                    in sparkly pronouncements of slime.

 

                                       Fuck outta here.

                                       Mine.

 

                     ***

 

             The slug produces up to six cups of mucous a day.

 

                    I used to be wetter.

      Lube will do, and does,

                                 but there’s no compliment like a flood.

 

                     ***

 

                   No splat so gelatinous as

           the many membraned flat broken

                                                                               by bike tire or boot tread.

        

                                                  Blasted throwaway

                                    re: my slug darlings and them being killed.

 

              Who gets to be laid out so humbly?

 

                     ***

                                  The Sarlacc does.

 

When I grow up I want to be

                                                          that gaping maw of the earth,

           The Great Pit of Carkoon,

                                                              part antlion, part lamphrey,

                                                  wholly barbed vagina tyranny.

 

 Every enraged-to-bloodlust otherworldly ever.

 

                                         Cue the squall

                                                  of its open throat.

 

                                                           That’s me.

                                                           See: my second mouth.

 

                     ***

 

When I grow up I want to be

                                                    descendent of the nudibranch,

                                   heir of the recently emerged from ocean.

 

         I want to feast on comets.

                     I want to digest over millenia.

         I want to do interesting things with mRNA.

                      So many have I eaten.    

                              

             ***

 

              Splatter of guts,

                                                 the russet smear

                       of cleared roadkill, the swamp, the pus, the muck.

 

                       At long last the latitude of my grin

                                                             breaks my mouth cyst,

              unspools the rotten, ripe

                                                               rope of infection

                         my tongue follows.

        

                                                  That’s me.

                                                  I swallow.

Notes:

I took the title “The Long Slow Suck, The Murk and Ooze” from the following sentence in Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae: “It is the chthonian realities which Apollo evades, the blind grinding of subterranean force, the long slow suck, the murk and ooze.”

I attribute “Fuck outta here” to Portland Trailblazers Power Forward Carmelo Anthony, who regularly uses the imperative when boxing out for a rebound.


Lauren Mallett (she/her/hers) is a poet, teacher, birth doula, and mushroom forager. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Salamander, Passages North, Fugue, Tupelo Quarterly, and other journals. The ecological imperatives of reconnection, embodiment, and regeneration ground her writing. She lives on the occupied homelands of the Clatsop and Chinook tribes, also known as Oregon’s north coast.