The grocery store gave us seven bananas we didn’t ask for
in our curbside pickup bag. Our next door neighbor said
he’d take three off our hands for his trip tomorrow to Utah.
His wife with dementia gone just a week. The other three are going
to our neighbor on the other side, who gave up sugar but not fruit,
so God would let her daughter keep the newly adopted baby
during the trial period. And we’re keeping one. Banana. The New York
Times asks if we have been hungry and the answer is no. But I wish
I could find more bananas for all the hungry people, children
and their parents. Then I would be doing more than writing about it.
About how this pandemic is starving some of us. I would figure out
a way to feed the people who are ravenous, give them food trucks,
restaurants, unlimited curbside pickups. Because it’s not okay
to be famished, to be craving security when there isn’t so much,
people dying as usual and more than usual. At least the baby
is going to stay where she is. At least one less tragedy to face.
Phyllis Klein’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She has a new book, The Full Moon Herald from Grayson Books. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, she sees writing as artistic dialogue between author and readers—an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels.
En la fila una mujer grita
Pienso en panecillos horneados
Poco después oigo
solo queda arroz
pero mi alegría es vana
Van a sacar azúcar
escucho palabras en rebote
se acabó la azúcar
La cola comienza a deshacerse
algo van a sacar más tarde
al final una mano me entrega un pollo
salgo de allí con mi tesoro
En una librería cercana
un amigo se atreve a leerme un poema largo
el poeta no sabe por qué me despido
lo prosaico de mi huida me hace sentir culpable
Hay que vivir en un país con hambre
para entender cómo se puede romper
la simetría de un poema
por un ligero goteo de vísceras y sangre
Translated by Yvette Neisser
In the line a woman shouts
I think of warm biscuits
Soon I hear
only rice is left
but my happiness is futile
They’re bringing sugar
I will wait
I hear words ricochet
the sugar is gone
The line begins to disperse
eventually they will bring something
finally a hand offers me a chicken
I leave with my treasure
In a bookstore nearby
a friend has the nerve to read me a long poem
the poet doesn’t know why I flee
such an ordinary goodbye fills me with guilt
You must live in a country with hunger
to understand how a poem’s symmetry
can be broken
by the slow drip of guts and blood
María Teresa Ogliastri was born in Venezuela and lives in Caracas. She is the author of five collections of poems: Del diario de la señora Mao (From the Diary of Madame Mao, 2011), Polo Sur (South Pole, 2008. English translation by Settlement House, 2011), Brotes de Alfalfa (Alfalfa Sprouts 2007), Nosotros los inmortales (We, the Immortals, 1997) and Cola de Plata (Silver Tail,1994). Brooklyn Rail first published the English version of the poem by María Teresa Ogliastri:
I Want Cake
is all I want, of
ancestral Egyptian spelt,
Demeter descended within wispy chaff
speared like Roman warriors, god-gifted
Cleopatra on the Nile where they can eat cake,
wise like winds that swept the plains, swept the seed.
And you, my sweet descendent, gift of goddesses’ seed I
planted on this earth, seed that sprouted across the plain,
golden like fields of spelt, fermented in foreign wind,
I wish you all the icing.
Other poems and essays by G. DiNapoli have appeared in literary journals and reviews, as well as Stanford Medical blog, in Europe and the US. She is an Italian American from Washington, DC.
The words aren’t spoken
They’re said through eyes
That watch others eat
Longing for a carrot
Piece of apple
Alone by choice
Always craving more
To hide envy
They fidget in desks
Lisa Reynolds writes poetry and short stories about social justice issues.
Her poem, “I’m Hungry” is based on her observations while teaching in Ontario, Canada.
My Scared little rabbit
4/15/2020 (For Toby)
My scared little rabbit.
Wide eyed staring at the
Corona news in the papers
At the bottom of your cage.
It’s no wonder you don’t come out
To nibble the clover,
And rain clouds threatening.
I love your twitching nose.
I love to feed you carrots.
I love to stroke your ears.
When the papers are changed,
And the skies are clear,
I will be here.
To hold you dear
Copyright 2020 Dennis Price
Reposted with permission from Mike Maggio: https://mikemaggio.net/my-scared-little-rabbit-dennis-price/
Dennis Price is a contractor waiting for his wife’s permission to continue his home improvement work at social distance. Father of 2 adults, owner of 2 cats. He has been using his time off to, among other things, organize his 860 or so poems into chronological order to be like a Poetry journal of his life.
About Mike Maggio:
Mike Maggio has published fiction, poetry, reviews and Arabic translations in journals and anthologies in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in such places as Phoebe, Apalachee Quarterly, Atticus Review, Potomac Review, Pleaides, Black Bear Review, The Arabesques Review, Pig Iron , Washington Independent Review of Books and many others. His work has also been antholozied in such publications as For a Living: The Poetry of Work and Before There Is Nowhere to Stand: Palestine | Israel: Poets Respond to the Struggle. MORE
Mike has posted this appeal that we would like to encourage you to pay attention to:
Throughout June and July, we will be presenting on this web site work by poets and artists responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you will find these works relevant, comforting and inspiring as we all cope with the economic and health-related fallout.
As you view the work on this site each day, we would like to encourage you to donate to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Their mission “ is to feed our neighbors in need by providing dignified access to supplemental groceries. AFAC is seeing a record number of families due to the COVID-19 pandemic as families who never thought they would ever be in need are now showing up at our doors for much needed food.” And, in keeping with our hunger-focused efforts, you may also want to visit the Poetry X Hunger website where poems by many poets are posted and are being used by anti-hunger organizations.”
Please consider donating to AFAC. If you do, let us know which poet or artist inspired you so we can send you a personal thank you.
Thank you, Mike, for mentioning PoetryXHunger!
Buy it now.
When you flee
the home exploding,
the burnt landscape,
trade it for a loaf of bread.
Remember the rhymes
of so many poems
to fill the confined
of prison life.
Teresa Peipins is a writer of Latvian descent from Western New York. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in publications both in the United States and abroad.
I am so hungry
tomatoes so red so firm
I eat but I starve
I drink from the gourd
but still thirst inside my head
how to starve to drink
Can wind calm hunger
as it scours the desert?
No it burns me too
When we starve we cry
bloated guts resonate but
the world hears us not
Click on the file to watch Sara read her haiku Sudan 2020
Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, is poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. In addition to publication in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), and Mizmor Anthology (2018); Journals: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica, she is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. Her latest poetry book, Needville, was released in 2019, and in 2020 was adapted into and performed as a play. Sara resides in Albemarle County.
Love Letter to a Dairy Farmer
This year was supposed to be a good one. Finally.
And now the virus closes restaurants,
schools, the big customers.
Heartbreak is the sound in drains –
a fresh tide rushing
across tiles and concrete
from Idaho to Maine, from farm to farm
15,000 gallons a day.
And somewhere, all of it is wanted.
All of it is needed.
This year was supposed to be a good one. Finally.
What I want to say
is how essential you are. You deserve
Cole Porter lyrics. You deserve a serenade
and decent prices every day.
No matter where milk or
the voluptuous power of butter lands –
refrigerators in motorhomes, houses,
skyscraper cantinas, in every
coffeeshop in every time zone.
This year was supposed to be a good one. Finally.
Udders don’t shut off like faucets.
Bills don’t disappear.
For generations, on schedule,
stanchioned cows bring it
like miners above ground.
Fears and hopes lift
like Jersey eyelashes, like Holstein belly-sighs.
Nothing is abstract.
What I want to say is thank you
every year. And may this one come to be
what it’s supposed to be. Finally.
Click on the file below to listen to Katy reading her poem
Katy Giebenhain is an ex-expatriate poet living in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Sharps Cabaret (Mercer University Press).
The foods of my ancestors are made quickly,
can’t wait for the bread to rise
so take it now with us across the desert,
thin crackerlike slabs — matzah.
No time to waste, freedom
is so easily taken away.
My ancestors labored over the foods they ate,
brisket marinates for hours,
becomes thick with flavor, soft and tender,
beet and cabbage borscht simmers
until it’s deep red and wilted.
Fill yourself until you’re drowsy.
When there’s not enough, my ancestors
shared, slice your serving into several.
Invite friends and strangers to dine
with you for Passover Seder. Drink
at least three cups of wine, recite stories,
the taste of ancient words on your tongue.
The foods my ancestors ate are still savored
today, crumbling cookies
called mandel bread cover your shirt,
matzah ball soup warms you
to your core, pita bread dipped
in fresh olive oil, tangy, salty, sweet.
Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized: Poems (Unnamed Press) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press). She uses her skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to scientific poetry. Marlena is a bisexual poet and serves on the planning committee for OutWrite, Washington, D.C.'s annual LGBTQ literary festival. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, The Little Patuxent Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Rogue Agent, Stoked Words, Wordgathering, and more. Find her at marlenachertock.com
the mountains loom large
not pine laden and fragrant
nor craggy and awe inspiring
rather huge piles of garbage
that daily grow higher
foul rotting reeking
of human waste and remnants
and the women children
search and dig through the
odiferous malignant heaps
for any prize piece of cloth
object wood metal to sell or
worse for a rotting morsel
to eat starved as they are
with blisters and open sores
on their hands and feet where
constant contact is made
and the seagulls natural
scavengers of the trash
fly about competing for food
the gulls ultimately having
the choice and ability to leave
but without education money
skills the human scavengers -
the untouchables - are relegated
to and as garbage for life
Marsha Warren Mittman’s humorous memoir, You Know You Moved to South Dakota from New York City WHEN… (Scurfpea Publishing), is a “Western Horizons Award” winner. Poems/essays/short stories have appeared in American, British, German, and Australian literary journals and anthologies, including six Chicken Soup for the Soul tales. The author of three chapbooks, Mittman’s received various poetry/prose distinctions in the US and Ireland, and a Writer’s Residency at Alabama’s Fairhope Center for Writing Arts.
Now more than ever
These poems have been submitted to the call for poetry "Now more than ever"