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I only eat on Friday

September 16, 2011

  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.

I only eat on Fridays

50,000 people die of hunger each day.
A child, every 5 seconds.

Every 5 seconds,
as the world devours a McDonald’s french fry -
starvation consumes a child.

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…..”

Ray Brown

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 then donate to this organization or another.  A relatively small donation goes far.  Donate on-line, click here.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. elijah permalink
    August 13, 2009 2:31 am

    I wish you could put this on as a recording. Your reading of this makes an already moving piece even more powerful.

  2. Wendy permalink
    January 5, 2010 6:16 pm

    Thank you. I work at Food for the Poor in the Church, School and Community Development department. I work to help students here in the US become aware of the situation you describe and to take action.

    Thank you for your poem, I’m going to post it on my facebook!


  3. Ray Brown permalink*
    January 5, 2010 11:49 pm

    Thank you very much for reading the poem and for your generous comment. I would appreciate your impression and that of others in your organization of another poem which I have written – about world wide child abuse. If you get a chance to read let me know what you think.

    “This was our time to be children”

  4. June 11, 2010 9:50 am

    Mr. Brown,

    I’m so glad Food For The Poor inspired you to write a poem. Thank you so much for mentioning our cause on your blog, and thank you for sharing the poem.



  5. Ray Brown permalink*
    June 13, 2010 10:12 am

    you are very welcome. I noticed that my link to your donation page was not working so I fixed it. Please express my thanks to Father White for his work – and also for his words, that inspired my own. If the poem cna be of any help to your work, please feel free to use it.

  6. February 21, 2011 7:18 pm

    Hi Ray,

    Glad I stayed awake long enough tonight (it’s 12.15) to have a quick look on your site otherwise I may not have discovered this wonderful poem. In this case relatively few words will definately go a long way..

    What link can I put on my own site for folks to donate?

    Cheers, Brian

  7. Ray Brown permalink*
    February 21, 2011 8:46 pm

    Thank you Brian. I appreciate you reading. Thank you for being willing to publicize donations to the organization. Here is the link for contributions:

    The home page of the organization is:


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