Poem by Paul Guenette
Much More than Dust in the Air
Sahara’s hot sun, the millet stalks dry
This field’s exhausted, swollen bellies cry
Last year’s grain is gone this rain’s a must
Harmattan blows through lifting red dust
Senegal’s brown cloud wafts to the West
Topsoil bomb of our millet field’s best
You see a russet pillow, a sunset fair
Network news says it’s just dust in the air
A breath makes a ripple on the ocean’s face
A New York woman in a state of grace
The price of a Starbuck’s coffee
It’s pocket change, Long Island toffee
The farmer learns, plants a living fence
Trees fix the soil, leaves make it dense
The water holds, garden crops endure
Back comes the topsoil, this food’s secure
It’s so much more than just a speck of dust
You know who needs it more, and you know that you must
It’s the right thing to do, the right way to live
It won’t break your bank to break down and give
Click on the file below to listen to Paul read his poem:
Paul Guenette is a recently retired economic development manager with expertise in international agribusiness. Mr. Guenette designed and managed development programs in a career spanning 45 years and 90 countries. His career, and this poem, were inspired by his stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Senegal.
Poem by Regina Coll
Dining with the Chorus
I eat edge and void. My eyes trace the menu - tower, ditch,
I murmur an urge.
I eat, afraid but willing to engage in this exploration - bug, furious,
a storm began.
I eat eat the green, tastes of green upon my lips oh -
my god eating a fury of bitter liveliness - fleshy, breath,
fingertips just graze.
Our daughter sighs in memory of first tongue, and of the early ecstasy
full full full, a child full.
Later - so I eat the game and the pages and the connectors but wait,
I’ve been over this before - eat again again - choice, marquee, a poison dart.
I eat the money and the car and the mortgage I eat the crime and the smile of the little unnamed girl across the street. I eat the talk and the screen and the tiles and the taxes. I eat right and then left, I eat the pedicure and lightening in the same sitting! Eat eat like the day-o, like the nightingale, like the poet. I eat electromagnetism - all forms, some delivered to my home, others coppered - friction - stored for when.
Oh daughter, she sings of appetite,
and as Bee-Queen motioning at the drones around her she sleeps.
So formidable. We wait for her to stir,
for her widen eyes to narrow - she cannot yet see her real food.
And I eat as if my life depended on it. My precious time, my precious passing time -
rattle, gold, my dreams so real
my dreams gripped - can they be tendered instead? palm up?
Here, daughter starts. She examines, begins the inquiry.
Daughter is not yet refined and done, watch her question her hunger - her direction
And it begins - listen listen.
And an appetite is a good thing in balance, right? And in view - right? And built to last … right?
Well….. . . . when St Peter and St Michael take my inventory
and ask for that list of what might be called - loaves and fishes,
I hope my answer is full.
And so friends, at that time our daughter will be carried away on the wings of her deeds
and by the fire of her intention.
Born-child into the hope of change as are all who are willing -
for who would want to stay small and closed? Who would want only -
one small same way?
Regina Coll lives in the Metro DC area. Her work has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, 2River Review, Lines and Stars, Blood Orange Review, and Emerge Literary Journal. She was the founder of the Bathroom Poetry Project in Takoma Park, MD and is interested in observation, planning, and re-use.
Poem by Taiwo Adesina
It is a difficult time to be hungry
It is a difficult time to be hungry as the world continues to evolve.
Along with broken economies and social structures, hunger remains unsolved.
Food insecurity is no longer the burden for only some to bear.
But if you cross the street or drive across your town, you will find hunger there.
Toddlers and young ones going to sleep without the nourishment they require.
As caretakers keep looking for that opportunity or hire.
Between this bag of food or electricity many now must decide
As the realities of the pandemic continue to abide.
In Ethiopia and Kenya, locusts swarm and ravage the wheat
Destroying livelihoods, fields, and the food the people eat.
In Syria, hunger persists as families experience a rise in prices
Inflation worsens and undernourishment follows, intensifying the crisis.
In the LAC region those facing food insecurity will rise to 16 mill.
And with all this going on, we battle COVID-19 still.
In America, food banks face increased demand and unprecedented user rates,
As hunger penetrates new demographics across the land, affecting every state.
The political unrest in Ethiopia, Venezuela, the US and Hong Kong have reached a new altitude,
Reminding us that justice, human rights, and equity are just as important as food.
It is a difficult time to be hungry, almost everywhere on earth,
But we are presented with new opportunities for innovation and rebirth.
So, we shine a light on those who have shielded us with their priceless armor
Our healthcare workers, engineers, delivery drivers and farmers.
We remember our teachers, humanitarians, and market vendors from Indonesia to New York
Knowing that every sector is necessary to ensure farm to fork.
This time is pivotal, we must rethink how we feed, ensuring we take care of our planet as we rally to meet the needs.
Food waste must be combated and challenges in the supply chain addressed.
The solutions must be local, and engage women and youth- with fresh wisdom they are blessed.
Money, time, skills, ideas, science- we all have something to give.
It’s only through efficient collaboration, that the next generation will live.
It is a difficult time to be hungry but still we must thrive.
It is a difficult time to be hungry, but in unity, the challenge will keep us alive.
Click on the file below to listen to Taiwo read her poem:
Taiwo is a relief specialist at Food for the Hungry, where she works with field teams to prepare for and respond to rapid onset and complex emergencies. She has a masters in public health and is passionate about the humanitarian and development space, believing that everyone deserves to live with dignity and have their most basic needs met. She currently lives in Washington DC with her running shoes, Diet Coke, and laptop on which she writes short stories and the occasional poem.
Poem by Najya Williams
Food is no luxury or gift
no tool of humbling destruction
food is a home of heritage
a reclamation call from dust to dust, bone to bone.
My hands have lived a thousand lives
turned a million stones
for in every crumb planted in my body
ancestors have found their way home.
The storms that saturate our existence
make us question our minds
are an invitation to quell the fire
climbing the top of our bloodline.
Listen to the soil
honor its fertility
life remains in our reach
a lingering taste of vitality.
The time has come
to own our destiny
and with each other
we can harvest infinitely.
The blades of our past ignorance
are here to stay
but the promise of a fuller belly
lingers in the vision of a brighter day.
Click on the file below to listen to Najya read her poem:
Born and raised in "Chocolate City," Najya Williams (she/her) is a poet, filmmaker, and performer. Her debut poetry chapbook, "Cotton," spoken word album, "mad black woman," and original short films are available online via her website, najyawilliams.com. Looking ahead, Najya remains committed to changing hearts and minds across the world, one word at a time.
These poems were submitted for the 2020 WFD Poetry Competition