The Low-Fat Blues

“It is positively astounding what warmth and vitality that good fat food imparts!” 

— J. C. Critchell Bullock, on the Thelon River, 24 August 1925, in Letters From The Barren Lands, ed. Carsten Iwers, pub. 2019.  

 The Low-Fat Blues

and uh-one, uh-two, uh-one two three four…

Woke up in camp dis’ mornin’

It was twenty five below,

I shuffled to the kitchen tent

To brew a cup o’ Joe.

Got a long cold day a’ comin’

And I’m gonna need some grub

Some serious keel-o-calories,

(…Aye, there’s the rub.)

‘Cause I’m gazin’ at my choices 

Not likin’ what I see

Is there nothin’ in this frickin’ camp

That packs some energy?

The big milk jug is Skim, emblazoned

“Zero Point Zero Percent!”

In big bold capital letters

Like some weird new compliment.

The yogurt in its plastic tub

Is bright and upbeat too,

But that irksome goose-egg Zero,

Man, this just won’t do.


Gimme fat, gimme grease,

I want nothin’ marked with “Oh.”

Pile it on, spread it thick,

Oh baby, feel the glow.

I’m searchin’ for some fat,

Thick grease is what I crave

To stoke my fires and make some heat

And fuel the workin’ Dave.

Lite Margarine, Lite Cheese, Skim Milk,

Good lord what have they done?

Will they take the fat from butter,

Render bacon “zero” fun?

The human brain is huge, I’ve read, 

And sixty percent fat,

You people need to shake your heads,

And give a thought to that.

(Muttered: While you can still think.)

I step outside, the tundra’s bleak,

The wind is whippin’ strong,

I’m feelin’ pretty desperate 

This day’s clearly startin’ wrong.

But as they say out on the sea,

“Any port in a storm,”

I’m eye-in’ that Canola oil

‘Cause that’ll keep me warm.


I pour three swigs into a pan

Fry up some store-bought bread,

It’s gluten-free, but still there’s hope 

That this will keep me fed.

It sizzles and turns dark and brown,

While that yummy oil soaks in,

I pile on some o’ that strange Lite cheese,

Now I might have a chance to win.

But really it’s a desperate move 

Just desperate, but I’ll try,

I’ll maybe make it through the day, 

And on toward home I’ll fly.

And there, at home, is fat to eat,

Rich trout and butter and bear, 

I’ll try to take it easy,

Once I make it there.

But here in camp, oh man,

It does just make me wonder,

No fat, no cream, no bacon, 

And full winter on de tundra!


Fade to… white. 

Bring up sound of blizzard wind, a distant howling wolf….

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