Poem by Barbara Goldberg
War Doesn’t Want
War doesn't want to be
an arcade game, doesn't
want an enemy a blip
on the radar screen.
It doesn't want a victor
with the best eye-hand
coordination. It wants
the thrill of killing
at intimate range, wants
the torch, the stench
of singed flesh (the skin
tastes best). It hates
dining alone, making death
with strangers. It wants
to know what it's eating.
Barbara Goldberg (Montgomery County, MD), poet, translator and essayist, is Series Editor of The Word Works’ International Edition’s.
Poem by Rachel Carillo
DC Farmer’s Market
In the Land of Plenty, carrots congregate.
Dusty yellow and saffron sticks
call on Carotene to work its power to
the people, strolling aisles
of an urban farmer’s market.
Rows of verdant spinach sparkle
iron-rich, nestled next to nectarines.
Orange oracles ooze Vitamin C,
their citrus scent reminiscent of
In the Land of Plenty,
in this Paradise, this Fruitopia
I watch a hunched homeless woman
emptying her voluminous pockets
to find change for cherries.
Cherries gleam like garnets, these
round promises of summer.
The long-bearded farmer refuses her change.
Gently placing orbs of glistening,
rain-kissed fruit in her hands
“These are for you.”
She smiles beamingly
through toothless grin.
“Just be careful of the pits, ma’am.
And please come back next week.
We have plenty to share.”
In this Land of Plenty,
there are 800 million more people
to nourish with Earth’s bounty.
In this Land of Plenty,
we’ll grow goodness from seed.
Rachel Carillo (Montgomery County, MD) is a Noodle Expert, poet, gig-economy writer, social and climate activist, share-economy denizen and public transportation devotee. With a Master's degree in International Studies, she has traveled extensively, lived bi-coastally and skied the Southwest as a Mountain Girl. She is currently on a search for home while writing her first novel.
Poem by Liz Reitzig
Hunger stares at me
With those empty eyes,
And the bigness of -
A world awry
Starvation hopes at me
With a bucket brimming with
The golden kernels of
A million dollar sunset
Offset by the rambling
Road to rescue
Death fills me
With endless knowing
Of another mother rocking
Her starving baby
One last time
An internationally recognized food justice leader and specialist, Liz Reitzig has recently presented her memory- and nature-infused poetry at readings throughout the County. She is a mother to five amazing children and lives in Prince George’s County, MD with her family.
Poem by Grace Cavalieri
My mother didn’t drive a car and so
my father would leave her money for the week,
and she’d have to walk for groceries and couldn’t always manage,
but if an unexpected visitor dropped in
she always had tomatoes.
These would be fried and put on toast with cream sauce on top.
We always had milk and flour. Sometimes
Uncle Freddie came by on his bicycle after delivering
things people ordered from stores, carried in his bike basket.
He was fifteen and saving money to be a lawyer.
He wore a tweed cap and woolen knickers.
Uncle Freddie died last week at a hundred and one.
If my mother was surprised by her brother,
she would fry up some tomatoes.
When I walked home from school for lunch
and she served them I knew she wasn’t able
to walk up to the store.
And today when I opened the refrigerator
after two weeks away, and just out of bed with the flu,
I saw two fat tomatoes alone on the shelf.
I always have tomatoes.
So, I’ll slice them in olive oil and salt until slightly burned on the edges
then scoop everything on two pieces of toast and
if I close my eyes, I’ll see a yellow kitchen
with squares of sun on the linoleum floor,
and my uncle, one last time grabbing his hat, and running out the door.
Grace Cavalieri (Anne Arundel County, MD) is Maryland's tenth poet laureate. She founded and still produces "The Poet and the Poem" for public radio, celebrating 43 years on-air. Her forthcoming book (2020) is What The Psychic Said.
Poem by Q.R. Quasar (David Martin)
Under the Bridge
it must have been the summer of 1955
in Fukuoka, Japan. I was just six.
my father was the American consul in the city.
my mother was taking me with her
on her morning rounds. our last call
at noon was to a deserted area
in a part of the city unfamiliar to me.
we parked off the road in a dirt lot
and walked down a crooked path
to the edge of a small river.
there was broken concrete lying around
in the glaring hot sun. I asked
my mother what we were doing. She said
we were visiting someone she knew
who lived under the bridge.
we got down into the shade
under the bridge. my mother called.
she walked around and called some more.
she was in a summer dress and proper
shoes. She was calling out in Japanese.
she turned to me and said in English:
“they must be out.” we could see some clothes
lying in heaps and pans and stuff
in a makeshift area under the bridge.
as we were leaving, my mother put down
a see-through plastic bag of hard candy,
the kind you suck and crack your teeth on.
she left the candy by one of the pans.
we made our way back up the river bank
up to the car and drove off
into our life full of food and things to do.
the consul’s wife could not solve their hunger
but she could leave a little bit of sweetness
and, at the same time, teach her son
that not everyone had enough to eat.
Q.R.Quasar (aka David Martin ) is a poet, playwright, novelist & scholar/translator of Arabic & Persian poetry & philosophy (Ph.D., UCLA). His books are available from Global Scholarly Publications
(www.gsp-books.org.): Watching the Universe Die, The Universe in Bloom, Ocean of Suns, Buddha Time, etc. Q.R.Quasar lives in Montgomery County, MD.
These poems were recognized at the 2019 WFD Poetry Competition