The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Minal Hajratwala’s “Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment”


7-00 The Hungry
                             TAGS: EAT, EATING, ATE

& the fireworks flare reflections on our plates—red, for the hate; blue veins of beast; white grease at the corners of our lips. Ash, coals, meat. It is a people who live by the bone, by the book, & the slaughterhouses thrum
all night.

Paintings of artichokes. Crusts too tough for our delicate teeth.

Catch-&-release yolks hatch into dump hens with undisturbed pecking orders, heaps of ripe dung.

Chickens make movies to spread plucky propaganda: “Eat beef!”

Cows lose every stigma of sacredness. Vegetables advertise: “Chewable vitamins!” Milk is a celebrity so The They celebrate the thin film it leaves above the lip, a new fetish for millionaires, like botox or submission.

Citizens become connoisseurs of water. The young of all species are delicacies: caviar, uncloned lamb, baby carrots & beets, baby kiwi, beanie babies. Entire salads are composed like sonatas, five-course prix fixe menus:  Le Bébé.

A woman named Power screams Stop the Madness—just another Cassandra, tasty flash in the pan.

This selection comes from Minal Hajratwala’s book Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, available now from The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective. Purchase your copy here!

Minal Hajratwala ( is author of the award-winning epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (2009), which was called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post, and editor of Out! Stories from the New Queer India (2013). Her latest book is Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a collective of which she is a co-founder. She graduated from Stanford University, was a fellow at Columbia University, and was a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. As a writing coach, she loves helping people give voice to untold stories.

Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Chautauqua, Redivider, Rattle, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.


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