I only eat on Friday
Follow this link to hear and see a video reading of this poem on the Internet show – “Poetry Unplugged”, hosted by Philadelphia poet, El Poeta. The text follows. http://ustre.am/_1akIn:QpI
I only eat on Fridays
50,000 people die of hunger each day.
A child, every 5 seconds.
The path to this destination of death – contorted.
At first, pains of hunger turn to numbness
then tissue thin skin
clings to the skeleton, like a balloon out of air
falls amongst the netting on the circus floor
below the high wire of life….
In Costa Rica, 53 years old,
he trudges for the 40th consecutive year,
the 14,600th consecutive day to the refuge dump
where he fights with the other human scavengers – and the rats
for rotten, left over morsels to sustain him and his family.
When the garbage truck arrives they rush like lemmings
or vermin avoiding the exterminator
to be the first ones – or to push to the front
when the dump body releases rotting, days old food.
Sheltered in a tin covered lean-to
an anxious family awaits
having returned from a difficult walk
to the stream below
– where people
bathe, drink, urinate, defecate
and catch amoebic dysentery.
Upon his return, his pickings,
food scraps parceled out among family members
each – with their own day of the week to eat.
In the intervening days,
when the growls pull on the heartstrings of a mother -
when the cries can no longer be tolerated
she mixes clay with salt and water -
a paste more suitable for a child’s nursery school project,
and bakes dirt pies -
so their stomachs feel full.
On the beach at the resort -
with the white colored sand, the crystal blue waters,
under the green trimmed cabana
the ocean waves lullaby my afternoon’s end.
I invite an emaciated urchin to share
half a local unfinished sandwich, one
the restaurant’s garbage purveyor can do without.
I offer it up
encourage this thin replica of a human child
to pick it from the plate -
tears from the child’s eyes -
at first – I thought appreciation
but when he still resisted,
my inquiry answered:
“This is Thursday, and I only get to eat on Friday…
Friday is my day to eat…..”
I am sure there are many worthy organizations which devote themselves to helping. This poem was inspired by a presentation made by a representative of Food for the Poor, Inc.. Read more about this problem and their efforts at http://www.foodforthepoor.org/help/hero/ then donate to this organization or another. A relatively small donation goes far. Donate on-line, click here.