Dan O’Brien

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Dan O’Brien


Firstly a friend’s birthday inside a repurposed caboose on cinderblocks
in Valhalla (NY). Beneath Kensico Dam. Where John Cheever stalked
the woods in search of handjobs. Waiters like priests in white aprons
smeared and speckled with blood, served the lipid-flecked filet of gristle
with the black-handled serrated knife. We sawed, bit the candy-seared
flesh dolloped with ketchup. Then I was a teenager tending charcoal
briquettes in our backyard. Pivoting to evade the puckering flames’
fuming jets of char. I was both nourishing and poisoning, I knew that
even then, as I offered the carcass on my parent’s silver marriage platter
to the liars round the table. Is it fate that I fell in love with a woman
who promised to forgive my unholy appetites? I don’t miss it, strangely;
since my diagnosis I have almost entirely lost the taste.

Dan O’Brien reads “Carnivorous”


Dan O’Brien is a poet, playwright, librettist, and essayist. His fourth poetry collection, Our Cancers, was published by Acre Books in 2021 and a collection of his prose poems, Survivor’s Notebook, was published by Acre Books in 2023. He lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles.