Rob Griffith


Fat Hamlet

Kummerspeck: In German, excess weight gained from emotional overeating; literally, “grief bacon”

My mother says I’m “fat and scant of breath,”
a sausage squeezed in doublet, hose, and cap,
a dumpling waddling off to seek its death
by kummerspeck and cake. “Go run a lap

around the battlements,” she pleads, “or stretch
your chubby legs, at least. Put down the fork
for Jesus’ sake, you fat-assed pork-pie wretch!”
She’s right, of course, but still I sniff the cork

and pour a goblet full of good red wine.
I butter bread and carve the mutton thick.
I grease my beard and drink a frothy stein,
then heap my plate with tarts and spotted dick.

My doctor wrings his bird-like hands and cries,
“O that your too too solid flesh would melt—
especially your gut and drumstick thighs.”
I nod then loosen up my creaking belt.

Our kith and kin are passing every day,
our world too full of hungry grief and loss.
So crack the eggs and whip the fulgent cream
then grate the cheese and lather on the sauce.


Rob Griffith is the author of four collections of poetry: A Matinee in Plato’s Cave, winner of the 2009 Best Book of Indiana Award; Poisoning Caesar; Necessary Alchemy, winner of Middle Tennessee University’s Chapbook Prize; and, most recently, The Moon from Every Window (David Robert Books, 2011), which was nominated for the 2013 Poets’ Prize. His work has also appeared in magazines and journals such as Poetry, First Things, River Styx, The North American Review, The Sewanee Theological Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Oxford American, among many others. He has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and has received numerous awards, including the ACM Literary Award for Poetry, The University of the South’s Tennessee Williams Scholarship for Poetry, Colgate University’s Chenango Valley Scholarship for Poetry, the Felix Christopher McKean Award for Poetry, and the Lily Peter Fellowship for Poetry. Professor Griffith received his B.A. from the University of Tennessee and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas, and in 2005, he was awarded the University of Evansville’s Outstanding Professor Award. He is the Associate Director of the University of Evansville Press, the Director of the Harlaxton Summer Writing Program, and one of the founding co-editors of Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry.