Henri Rousseau , The Repast of the Lion, 1907. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Henri Rousseau , The Repast of the Lion, 1907. Metropolitan Museum of Art

on hunger

1. A shipworm is a clam that burrows and eats wood, mythological set of jaws. They were a scourge to the Greeks and Romans and 18th century adventurers alike, a ravenous thing that could sink a vessel and change the course of exploration by virtue of appetite. A rare five foot living shipworm has been found-- not fossilized but wiggling into view. It looks like a sinewy, muscled mass, the heft and length of a male human arm.

2. Eileen Myles: "I am always hungry/ & wanting to have/ sex. This is a fact."

3. At the Met: Henri Rousseau's Repast of the Lion-- dense layers of jungle foliage copied from trendy ethnographic journals. Unlike his early jungle works, this is a brutal image with no surprise narrative out of frame: just an animal, hungry, in its imaginary habitat.

4. Of shipworms, Christopher Columbus wrote: "my ship is more riddled with holes than a honeycomb."

5. The "galaxy siphonophore" is less animal than a shock of violent orange cells against a deep black sea. It is voracious, trapping fish in its net of a body. The gonatid squid is constantly eating. It attaches itself to fish, half of its body beating time against the current, before piercing prey's brain with a beak. Jellyfish eat everything and are continually eaten. I find video of a jellyfish the size and shape of a dinner plate eating a comb jelly-- a ctenophore, cannibalized.

6. A quandary-- kuphus, a giant lake-dwelling shipworm, burrows so deeply that their mouths are almost always plugged with mud, and its digestive system moves so slowly you'd think it stone. Scientists hypothesize that it must be able to emerge, once or twice in its life-- without eating or using its jaws, how can it go deeper?

7. "Try to collect a ctenophore, and it will disintegrate in your hands."-- pure poetry, courtesy of the New York Times.