A brief relief from hunger is a collection of poems about the yearnings of a young man—cocaine, human connection, fast food—and the ravenous world in which he lives. In Vancouver, the speaker binges Big Macs after attending rehab while others consume fentanyl-tainted drugs. Growling bodies are everywhere, including on Facebook where people post cruel comments about drug users in the face of British Columbia’s toxic drug supply crisis. At the heart of the collection are poems that respond to these comments from the perspective of the speaker, now sober but still hungry, whose friends are dying from the contaminated drug supply. Hungry, too, are the birds that call British Columbia home. Robins catch worms, crows gobble French fries, and owls ingest poisoned rats.
Using both traditional and experimental forms, the collection asks important questions about hunger and desire. Who gets to “eat” in public? Who must hide in shame? The speaker knows at least one reliable source of contentment: Grandma’s kitchen, where, at his lowest points, he finds cabbage rolls, acceptance, and a tenderness he wishes to absorb into his masculinity. “Let me be a man,” the speaker proclaims, “who cools that which is too hot to slurp, / a dishrag hung on my shoulder.”