Poem by Joyce Williams Graves
An empty sack can’s stand up anymore.
All the potatoes are gone, and it lays silently on the floor.
When will it be filled again?
Will it be a day or a month, the children patiently wait!
We tend to buy more food than we will ever eat; then throw away the remains.
Hunger pains are felt by many young children daily all over the world.
An undernourished child should never be a factor in the richest country in the world; the United States.
There’s no food in many ice boxes and sometimes there’s no ice to even keep food cool and safe.
It’s not the child’s fault, we know this, but it’s exceedingly difficult to hide a child’s hunger pain.
Sometimes, there’s no water for the family garden to grow basic vegetables to eat.
No clean water to drink happens to many children everywhere, it’s incredibly sad.
The silent tears trickle down their faces as they try to fall asleep at night.
Even the animals are dying from the lack of clean water and food in many places.
Yes, the empty sack is empty and can’t stand up anymore.
It lays in the corner near the empty rice bin.
No one should die from starvation or malnourishment; especially a child.
This poem has received recognition by FanStory.
Click on the file below to listen to the recording of the poem:
Joyce Williams Graves is a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia. She lives in Fort Washington, Md (over 20 years) with her husband Glen Graves. She is a woman of faith. She has been retired for 7 years. Ms. Graves worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 22 years for the Office of Inspector General as an Information Technology (IT) manager. She is an Entrepreneur and works as an independent skincare consultant (Jafra International) for 8 years. She has been a US Notary Public for over 30 years. Ms. Graves is a playwright. Her play is called, “Cotton Field to Concert Hall.” It was performed at the Public Playhouse (2017) and the Kennedy Center (2018). Her hobbies are painting, writing poems, swimming, walking, playing chess. Ms. Graves is a Numismatist (Coins Collector).
Poem by Brenardo
Sustainability is the ability to stay strong
To keep generations’ moving on
But literally and figuratively there have been storms
Fires, floods that have ravaged lands
And when we know the causes
How can there be these great pauses of profit over margins
Should we wait til all are starving
We have to stop
Sustaining the need to change the pain brought on by drain
Straining to survive with what remains
Claiming what we can from land abused
Drought over land
Bought over objections of protection
By corporations with core objectives to take and take without limitations
To proliferate profits without the slightest indication to sustainability
Fill the coffers, meet the proffers to investors and move on
Though raining hard
Yet yard refuses yield
Like headstones in a fruitless field
Reflecting death, from those who’ve left
But messages were left behind
Remember to respect the time the things contained
The way things change, while staying the same
These ways Sustaining must be explained, must be learned
That paths of wrath may thus be turned
That for our children earth remains
Brenardo aka Andre’ B. Taylor, is a native Washingtonian poet and songwriter. He has been writing for over five decades on all matters of life. His written words have been featured in countless newspapers, magazines, and poetry anthologies, and he is a veteran of stage, radio, and television, who believes in being of service to the word which graces him to help others.
Poem by Luther Jett
When my mother packed
my lunch, she wrapped a slice
of gingerbread in wax
paper and the upper crust
stuck to the wrapper when
I peeled it open, so I set
the greasy paper aside,
and meant to throw it out,
but that Malony girl,
whose dress was always stained,
snatched it from my desk
and licked the crust off the waxed
paper, all the while beaming
with delight the way an epicure
might grin to avail herself
of a fine morel paté.
Her family lived in a rundown
farmhouse behind the cemetery,
all the paint worn off the clapboards.
How many siblings she had no-one
could count, and because
I didn’t understand, I told my father
how that girl took my trash to eat,
and wrinkled my nose in disgust.
But my father, who had been
to Calcutta during the last war
and seen people sleeping in the streets,
only sighed and said softly:
“You must have compassion.”
I still didn’t understand,
but I wanted to be a good son,
and now I wonder what
became of all the Malonys,
and if that girl grew past her hunger,
if she ever tasted anything sweeter
than my mother’s gingerbread crust,
and if one day she got to wear
a dress without a stain.
Here is the link to the video on You Tube:
W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of four poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father”, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and “Our Situation”, (Prolific Press, 2018), “Everyone Disappears” (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and, “Little Wars” (Kelsay Books, 2021).
Poem by Gabby Gilliam
When Schools are Soup Kitchens
She doesn’t raise her hand
when the teacher asks
who wants to order
the free snack/supper
even though she knows
she will go hungry.
No one else raises their hand.
He shrugs and tells his friends
he isn’t hungry, covers
his growling stomach with laughter
because he’d rather starve
than his classmates discover
his lunch account is empty
again. Dining with dignity
impossible when nothing
at school is anonymous.
Her teacher slips
bags of chips into her desk
while they are in P.E.
so her classmates won’t see.
The counselor fills
his backpack with boxes
of mac and cheese
and cans of beans
a bag of rice
so he won’t go hungry
over the long weekend.
on the gaping wound
of their hunger.
Click on the file below to listen to Gabby read the poem:
Gabby Gilliam lives in the DC metro area, more specifically Montgomery County, Maryland. Her poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming from, The Chesapeake Reader, The Fredericksburg Literary Arts Review, and Tofu Ink Arts Press. Her short fiction will appear in a forthcoming anthology from Black Hare Press.
Poem by Faith Nelson
Stomachs dressed in cardboard
signs gurgle will clean anything
for a living wage. Roots dry rot
waiting for hire. A tesla-patient
mob rushes to click the X
on my pop-up Ad box, making
hectares of my willingness
blink and sputter.
Self responsibility Sir Ma’am
they say as if they know
the circumstances. Yeah, like
you’ve never needed anything
you’ve never needed anything.
I walk the rim of asphalt
toward the next window.
who when satisfied
gives me enough mojo
to fake a home address.
Not talking about Hunger
fueling the fortunate in this realm
so that they can go to bed
and fly the imagination.
Food will smack them awake
Talking about Hunger
gasping a prayer for a pound
of protein packaged veggie
lentil burger mac & cheese
I don’t care Big Mac Big Mac
My body is now a religion
without a living head. Vapor.
Not talking about Hunger
Mahatma Gandhi shapes
into a bullet for the caste system.
Protest fasting’s been chopped down now
even appropriated by some now.
Hunger snaps a rubber band
against my pale lips yet it lays
a pregnant self bare for the other muse
full of inspiration, verse, fantasy, romance
Greek cornucopias, architecture, inventions
prisons and supermarkets full of xenophobia.
It slings chummy arms through the elbows
of plunderers dot death
and political ’trepreneurs.
This lover air kisses
my dream. It savages
my world into a food
desert, driving back
the lion who once kept
watch, protecting me
and the platform
shoes of the elite.
Now the king
and I step
one then two
The stinging will stop
if you share
your bread for a moment.
Click on the file below to listen to Faith read her poem:
Faith P. Nelson holds a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland and freelances as a tourism copy-writer and indie publishing consultant. She programmed a literary festival and gained years of experience working behind the scenes at BET, Viacom. Bear, her tabby cat, keeps her humble by running away when she picks up the guitar. Water Therapy is her first collection of poetry: https://www.watercoursepublishing.com
[Copywriting, Book Development and Indie Publishing Production Assistance]
Poem by Ann Bracken
Hunger wears a face full of hope
like the girl on the magazine cover
cradling a loaf of white bread
as if it’s a miracle. Tonight she will
sleep with food in her tummy.
Hunger’s face is innocent
like the little boy buying a corn-dog
at the corner store or his neighbor
who’s grateful for two plump strawberries
tucked in the family’s food box.
Hunger tells the same story
sweeping across time and place
from Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl
to Mississippi’s Delta towns—
Loss and desperation landing sucker-punches
on families across America.
Hunger’s face is weary
like the fictional Rose O’Sharon
heavy with grief after birthing
her stillborn child. Her pain ripples
through the air, palpable and raw
like the fresh scar on her heart.
She seeks refuge from the rain
in an old barn, a boy offers
her a musty blanket. She spies
an old man huddled in the corner
gripped by hunger like a fist in his belly.
Rose offers him the only gift she has
lying down next to him, baring her breast,
and sharing her milk.
Click on the file below to listen to Ann read her poem:
Ann Bracken has authored two poetry collections, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom and The Altar of Innocence, serves as a contributing editor for Little Patuxent Review, and co-facilitates the Wilde Readings Poetry Series. Ann advocates for arts-based interventions for mental health, education, and prison reform.
Poem by Andrés Abella
Truth will be the seed
the brethren of the earth
droplets of a liquid sun
filling up all wells
the way that dreams
fill up a melody of illusion
The earth has remained
dry and crumbling
who would have imagined
that iron showers
could never bloom
a green of feasts
but rather bleed
an old despair?
let barrels of food
go to waste
like depth charges
in poor people’s faces.
Hunger is no longer tragic
just unbearably absurd
Come, climb the stairs
look up to the spheres
and find a comet
that even the blind can see
then stab the earth
slit its veins with love
and light and joy
and let the truth
We will have bread
the field songs
a venerable earthquake
and we will remember
what sharing meant
because we’ll learn
to share again.
Andrés Abella (born in Valparaíso, Chile, 1970) is a journalist, activist and poet. He lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his family. He studied English language and literature at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile, and Journalism at San Francisco State University, California. He worked as a journalist and news editor for more than 15 years in print and online media.
Poems by Laura Stewart Webb
first girl in the family to go to college
was hungry all year
often, for a smoke to put a coat
of nicotine over all-nighter pangs
of exam panic
dry-mouthed too many mornings
anonymous in lecture halls
following beer-pong night school
covetous of customers’ orders
waiting tables at the diner
consumed by plate envy
for syrup-soaked pancakes since
the currency of her free meal
bartered for calculus tutorials
she might have gotten for her dimples
and a feigned interest in sci-fi
instead, she indulged
the same sweet tooth
her momma showed
for boys with candied flesh
no woman could ever bite deep
enough to sugarcoat their rinds
a binge that left her ravenous
to know if that extra weight
was freshman 10
or pregnancy pounds
then, by finals week, bloated with relief
when what she had to swallow next
left a mostly hidden scar
and a fat-lipped heart
What mom hopes I don’t remember about first-grade hunger:
how it gulped down even the lump of fear
caused by ketchup sandwich of silence and sirens
that last syringe stuck like a straw
in her bruised banana flesh.
I pretend now that I never slept dreamless
on a full belly, plump pillow in a foster family’s home
the nights she spent in rehab.
My eighth-grade pangs starved family pride:
I was the scavenger angel in evangelical service
of our lunch lady of the uneaten corn dog
nugget, green bean, cooked carrot and fruit cocktail
abandoned on trays of friends.
At home my brother and I gorged impotently
on ramen noodles, eager for mom’s McNugget pay-day
Tenth-grade first job wages:
I stuffed my locker and bedside table
with red finger-tipped fruits
crunch and burn of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
my pocket change tossed in the collection plate
for college and a car. Later was never. Now
was treating the three of us to fourth meal at Taco Bell
until we were sick of it, and I grew too big for hand-me-downs
used my employee discount on a larger size.
We harvested a riot in our garden
tomatoes bloated after volleys of rain
and our temporary decampment
on vacation at the lake.
Joker-mouthed fruits leaking lifeblood
greeted our return. No tasers or rubber bullets
could repel fruit fly surge
as what we hoped to salvage
This decomposing regiment of peaceful assembly
occupied the sunniest spot for months
entwined vines shielding assets
behind pungent chainmail.
We broke through the lines, captured hundreds
cut away their bruises, battle scars
to savor victory salads and sandwiches all summer
detain nine gallons of boutique sauces
seasonal POWs in our freezer.
Now we surrender a field deepened by combat
soil's soul turned over to red cabbages, kale, pansies
nevertheless, haloed ground
demands a mottled moment of silence
for Yemen, Syria and the Congo, whose children might
for peace in which to gather tomatoes like these
fight insects to the death
eat not around bruised fruit, but through it,
suck in bloody juice, swallow bitter seeds.
Laura Stewart Webb is a keen and grateful member of the Southern Maryland community of poets who gather together to participate in workshops, open mics, and the joy and mystery of being human. Laura writes on many topics but often returns to themes inspired by her work as a community educator in behavioral health. Laura lives with an Irish Wolfhound named Fintan who has not given up trying to teach her everything he knows.
Poem by Maritza Rivera
El Pan de Cada Dia (Our Daily Bread, HERE is the version in English)
Se dice que la poesía es como el pan,
que alimenta el alma.
Pero a veces, como las buenas intenciones
y las oraciones, ¡no es suficiente!
Se ha comprobado que los niños
no aprenden cuando tienen hambre.
Fíjese en las bajas calificaciones de los estudiantes en nuestras escuelas.
El desayuno debe ser la primera lección
de cada día. Seguido por el almuerzo,
y una merienda por la tarde antes
de la salida.
Las sondas gastro-nasales que alimentan
a los moribundos les obligan a seguir viviendo aun contra su voluntad
pero esto no dura para siempre.
Y aunque no hay tubos de alimentación
para los que viven, una sola comida
puede ser la diferencia entre la vida
y la muerte para muchos.
Sin embargo, mientras tantos mueren
de hambre, se desechan a diario
miles de libras de comestibles
en países tan prósperos como este.
¡Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!
Todos somos culpables por despreciar
las sobras y el pan viejo que, como la poesía, pueden alimentar a un pueblo.
Maritza Rivera (Montgomery County, MD) is a Puerto Rican poet and Army veteran who has been writing poetry for over 40 years. She is the creator of Blackjack poetry and hosts the Mariposa Poetry retreat. Maritza aka Mariposa is the author of About You, A Mother’s War, 21: Blackjack Poems, and the Blackjack Poetry Playing Cards.
Poem by Julie Fisher
This Ridiculous Struggle
The yearning to pin the moth just so,
is the hungry ghost.
The dark of that unquenchable maw.
Monkey mind tells us we're stuck here.
Even as I bathe in the orange-y, pinkest sunset on my porch,
those children sit huddled
Cold or hot, dirty, bored, dirty and of course hungry.
Both occur at the same time.
The sky is a marvelous wash of lingerie hues and mesa burning.
Each wrenched away baby
frenzied by so much absence.
Julie lives in Freeland, MD and says, “I start, make & point out things. I wonder how we got here. I live on a "farm" and herd kids & pets & groan at hubby's puns, often.”
Hunger-focused Poems by Maryland Poets
Creation of this section and publishing the works of Maryland poets was supported by the Maryland State Arts Council.