The Former Famines by Lauren M. Hancock

There were times when I ate nothing but
 plumes of poisoned smog for days on end.
 I’d avoid anything heavy or even meagrely there,
 to place a mere morsel in my mouth was something
 too tempting and somehow undignified,
 something forbidden,
 leading to:
 a loss of control,
 frenzied ingestion,
 then disgust with myself —
 reaching for a dose so potent it equated to poison.
 The slightest curve of a formerly sunken midriff causes
 tears of tumult and humiliation,
 as if unending, with a heart-wrenching knowledge
 that my starvation unravelled in the maddening moments.
 There was often a famine inside my heart
 where I longed for sustenance but I couldn’t,
 I would not dare,
 one reach for that crumb and I’d bloat
 as though filled with helium or hastily puffed air.
 I couldn’t look at it,
 it was something to fear.
 It was something that made my mouth water,
 but I had to avoid being near.
 Instead, I forced myself to puff and smoke,
 and straight black coffee kept me half alive and aware,
 but growing exhaustion weighted my eyelids like wet cement,
 I needed something to permit my rising,
 something to match my intent.
 Could I risk the dangers?
 How to get my hands upon genuine items to help me improve?
 Pills and powders promising to make me shrink, shrink, and shrink,
 suddenly I’ve the mind of a future coveting addict.
 Crafty measures brainstormed, hasty explanations prepared,
 ready for communication,
 if I’m caught or suspected,
 there will be no unawares.
 And so I become smaller and weaker,
 feebler as time drew on,
 but I am ecstatic,
 jubilant for everything that is unfolding,
 according to my perfect plan.
 Hospital is a rude awakening,
 I am loaded with necessary pills to balance my mental state,
 for I have become manic and psychotic,
 with the combination of my regular medication and
 the legal drugs I decided to take.
 The weight piles on, much to my sadness,
 every hope appears lost,
 it appears there was little point in my endeavours,
 given my lengthened recovery,
 an unravelled mental state,
 in tatters,
 this is the cost.  

 And while I look back upon these periods of illness
 with a certain degree of longing for the way I
 physically presented to the world,
 I also recall how painful it was to fear something
 I truly loved,
 my heart goes out to the past me,
 I’m pleased I can now eat with freedom.
 I wish I could have been there to
 help her see that how she viewed herself was unnecessary,
 true beauty lies within the heart, and kindness is mankind’s key.
Photo by Pixabay on

About the Poet:

Lauren M. Hancock is a poet, author, artist, and classical musician based in Melbourne, Australia. She thrives on being inspired by her life experiences and imagination for her writing and accompanying illustrations. Her poetry is generally concerned with the perspective of the self, as well as her position in relation to others. Through means of introspection and cathartic writing, she explores such concepts as love, obsession, rejection, personal empowerment, appreciation and gratitude for others, and otherwise.

Lauren has published a book for all ages called “Our Whimsical World: Illustrated Stories”, in which each tale has an underlying moral or meaning. At the time of publication, she was also known as Alice Well, however she has reverted to writing solely under her actual name.

You can find more of her poetry, prose and art at and other artwork on Instagram at

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