No time for poetry
The big line up
in front of the food tanker
holds a paper plate in her right hand
drags a child with the left
the loudest crowd ever
to get meals to their children
there I saw myself
fragmented into thousands of humans
and my soul in silence
looking for an answer
Photo credit goes to Dr. Archana Pokharel
Click on the file below to listen to Sharmila read her poem:
Sharmila Pokharel is a bilingual poet from the Himalayan country Nepal. She has published two collections of poetry in her native language. She immigrated to Canada in 2010.
Her third book was a bilingual poetry collection My Country in a Foreign Land, co-translated by Alice Major. She is a co-author of Somnio: The Way We See It, a poetry and art book published in 2015.
“Deaths and marriages make great changes.”
That’s what they used to say,
In a general way,
Not specific to the Famine.
There were too many deaths then.
They were too close.
Dying was a failure.
That wasn’t spoken of.
It was lived out of.
It cut a deeper line
Of before and after
Than Independence, the change
From rulers to leaders.
It removed or erased so many
It changed Ireland.
It changed land ownership
From up and down to the middle.
The strong farmers rose.
Their cattle conquered crops.
Marriages were made to unite fields.
In a domestic commerce
Resources were invested for
The future in a son and
A son a priest for good measure
Was a measure of success.
Women served purposes.
Their speaking was sanctioned
In self-betraying confessions
To oppressive clergy.
Their lives went to the farms
Their love to the productive sons.
Their marriages were fodder
The absolution of lost knowledge
Comes slowly on the land.
Roots grow from our feet.
My grand father struck a man
Who, in drink, accused my forebears
Of the theft of fields from his forebears,
After the Hunger.
In the Cromwellian phrase of West Limerick-
My grandfather “falled” him.
Who will know now in that place
The story or the truth?
These many years later
We appear to be recovering
From that disease of the blood-
The fear of want.
The roots growing from our feet
We can love and leave the land.
There are changes.
Click on the file below to listen to Rena read her poem:
Rena Fleming grew up on a farm in Co.Limerick and now enjoys the landscape and the shores of Galway Bay.
Dinner for One
I remember the angst of scavenging for nourishment;
the excitement when sustenance
was found in a tin of spam
selected from the self-service menu
in a kitchen cupboard slammed with a bang,
breaking up an otherwise stony silence
while preparing dinner for one
No distraction from acrid smell of poverty,
an airborne virus infecting my nostrils
attempting to satisfy growling malnutrition need
because very child needs a daily feed,
no point in letting the situation bread contempt
as who gives a shit about trying to represent
the groundhog day of the twisted event
that although lonely was still a highlight when imminent;
my desolate dinner for one.
My parched lips washed it down
with unfiltered tap water
consumed while perched on a rickety chair,
wobbling as if laughing at my misfortune sitting there.
A chipped orphan plate scorning hungry eyes
always lowered, scarred from my mother’s glares filled with despise,
familiarity in that crockery that saw behind the scenes mockery
towards child welfare that forgot to be there
to witness my dinner for one.
The pièce de résistance dished up on scratched pine surface
barren of pretty tablecloth,
not ever needed since I’d never dare spill a drop.
Even if I did I’d use my tongue as a mop
to make the most of my dinner for one.
Indigestion took hostage of my stomach
when I too quickly crammed tasteless morsels into my young mouth
that hung open, forgetting to close with the chew,
table manners were never something taught by you,
fingers my utensils, there was no silver spoon
to shovel in my meal because mother would be home soon.
Needed time to wash up, no excuse for her to raise hand
to beat me black and blue for being so bad.
It was cold in the bosom of the kitchen without the oven on.
Why waste energy serving up dinner for one?
Kelly Van Nelson from Sydney, Australia is the #1 bestselling author of Graffiti Lane and Punch and Judy. Her poetry has featured in numerous international publications and she regularly discusses social issues in the media. Her books are frequently gifted to celebrities, including Hollywood Oscar winners. She is the recipient of a KSP First Edition Fellowship, winner of the AusMumpreneur ‘Big Idea Changing the World’ Award for her literary impact as an antibullying advocate, and Roar Success winner for Best Book and Most Powerful Influencer. In the spare time she doesn’t have, she hangs out on the open mic performing poetry. She is based in Sydney, Australia and is represented by The Newman Agency - www.kellyvannelson.com.
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