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Digital Poetics #9 Solastalgia: Calliope Michail

“…wretched man, as much as he ate,

so much did he desire again.”

- Callimachus, Hymn VI to Demeter

“At length, when [Erysichthon] had eaten up all his wealth,

he was left with only his daughter…”

- Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book VIII

He stands in a razed jungle

stumps for legs and puckered lips

of rubber


sensuous appetites

a master of cattle herds

to feed his affluenza

reckless trust

a malaise of neologisms

cornucopian futurist

fracking the bones of the dead;

the gods shall provide if it be

their will

as the skeletal god of hunger

has made its home deep within

the bowels of homo consumericus

and if not

with his newly fashioned

proboscis he will suck

the ocean floors dry

of sand

pulverize every buried stone

and suck and

suck until there’s


more to take —

he won’t even know he’s

gnawing away at his own


until there’s nothing left

I stay up into the early hours;

my eyes clicking on themselves.

the garbage truck grumbles

outside my window churning

with rejection. the house yawns

and stretches; floorboards, pipes and

boiler protesting the new day.

cassiterite wolframite coltan

diamonds and gold ore

(for tin) (for tungsten) (for tantalum)

for the wolves of abstraction

that feed and eat and eat

a merry go round you can’t dismount

all and some more some


than others 

tabs tabs tabstabtabtabtatatatattttttt

burn like the Olympic flame 

I hoard with a ravenous desire


so many I can’t make out 

the little pictures at the edge they all begin to blend

I can’t keep


what’s what who’s who what’s where and


I need it all 

even if it means I cannot use


how else can I hold                     all 

this information at my fingertips how can I hold             all 

this information in      

— my brain 

tips into obsolescence and       

slips through like water

no ocean’s big enough to quench 

this flame


out —

exit window

and start again

a North American rat snake once

tried to consume itself

and died the second time around —

three concentric coils

Hecate’s impeccable coiffure

place your refus/al

steaming at the crossroads

I stay up until the early hours 

my eyes clicking on themselves

drowning fish. (oxy) moronic, 

don’t you think? perishing in the 

abundance of the oxygen they need

smacking, hopeless, with their big lips

and frantic flapping slits. 

recipe for miner’s chowder:

1% copper

99% arsenic, lead and mercury 

sprinkle generously on your

Alaskan crab butter-clams cockles and blue mussels

best enjoyed by the familiar glow

of your latest screen 

and what of Mestra?

contorting into shapes

practicing autothysia/phagia

all her own, like

an insect going through

the motions – autophagosomes

soma somata somatic

acceleration —

to escape her plight

no NDAs, but good ol’ Poseidon 

wrote her a check 

of a different kind

and she cashed it again and

again only to come 

flying or trotting

back – reinvention for

the complex grinding

since Father, capitalised—

scientists still wonder

whether autophagic activity

in dying cells is 

the cause of death 

or is actually

an attempt to prevent it.

but even she, oh faithful daughter,

could not save 

the man who ate himself.

I stay up until the early hours 

my eyes clicking on themselves.

I don’t know what I’m waiting for;

what promises the night pretends to keep,

what each sunrise fails to bring,

why I’m not content just counting

counting  —

the slug leaves

a gastronomic trail

along the fig leaf it demolishes

vein to vein

while you and I


blade to blade

trying to lick away the slime and

give birth to something

we can't call new

I may think and so may

you but that is not the point


just the tool

ensuring we go forth

and multiply

under reductive viral vice

I think therefore I am therefore therefore therefore I dominate

no one speaks in ancient tongues but

Nemesis keeps the score

you may think this

scattered tipping smeared

peanut butter and petroleum

spilled milk and populations

and you would be right

or maybe left 

and maybe the serpent ate its tail 

and cannot tell where or how 

to begin 

or b/end 

hopes in chthonic knowledge

that familiar itch and burn of

living singing skin beneath

glazed milk eyes – ecdysis,

rarely comfortable outside trust – necrotic

tissue stretches and sloughs

it writhes

and sheds instead.


Calliope Michail is a poet & translator from Athens, Greece, currently based in London. Her poetry chapbookAlong Mosaic Roads(2018) was published with the87press. Other work has appeared online and in print in Snow Lit Rev, Datableed, Pamenar, Berfrois, Penteract and more. 


This publication is in Copyright. Calliope Michail, 2020.

The moral right of the author has been asserted. However, the Hythe is an open-access journal and we welcome the use of all materials on it for educational and creative workshop purposes.

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