Poem by Imani West
Society calls it soul food
Laced in black excellence
There is nothing like it
Birthed from the full belly of the south
Laughter and love
Woven into the scars of a history that they thought had been long forgotten
Turned into something beautiful
Recipes from our ancestors that we remember that are braided into our very existence
Nobody could cook like them
I can imagine the smell of love wafting from the kitchen on a Friday afternoon as the sounds of jazz spoke pigments into the ears of all who listened
It’s the magic of healing that brings us from yesterday to today
Helps the skies lighten up on our darkest days
Makes the pain fade away
Brings us to our own kind of promised land
Makes us heal
Poem by Deja Epps
Poems by Nala Washington
A made up story about an annual event in which two people from each of 12 starving districts are randomly selected by the wealthy to compete in a televised battle to the death.
Now let’s not get it twisted… I’ve never watched these movies a day in my life.
But I just can’t help but notice painting poverty and white-faced makes it poverty.
So called fiction. Making a number one novel, a blockbuster movie a hit at the box office I guess being brown and hungry ain’t all that entertaining.
Our stomachs have been starving since the dawn of time
Since we were fed chitlins and licked cornmeal off our dirty fingers which became a delicacy.
Since three dollar ramen boiled hot dogs and pinto beans became a norm.
This game is only one sport we call surviving. This story is not just a story to us it is now obstacles in your path we call it welfare.
Is it true the USDA labeled parts of Prince George’s county a food desert?
But you call this entertainment.
As Hollywood spends millions of dollars to tell this story with outlets they call it Panem, I call it Andrew Jackson Middle School
where most kids there meals are when they enter that building and wait to hopefully receive more if they so make it to another day.
I call it Baltimore City which has more than 20 percent of people living below the poverty line and has one of the highest poverty rates in Maryland
I call it Suitland High School here most girls come just to feed their babies who now are growing up the way they did.
I call it Washington D.C. and no not the gentrified part of D.C. you have built to try and cover it’s faults and run us out I mean that one part of D.C.
That’s the real life Hunger Games.
Many on the street dressed up in whatever they have left begging, scavenging for cash.
As their stomachs growl just as hard as our ancestors did.
Do you hear it?
A lot of people talk about obesity
What people don’t understand is calling someone “too skinny” is the same as calling someone “too fat”.
My mind and my stomach have been fighting for years and all my heart wants is peace.
Just like I wanted another piece of cake.
Or a brownie.
Even a piece of chicken.
And maybe it’s wrong but i felt so whole being empty.
As much as I hear my stomach growling, I skip breakfast.
And almost always dinner.
I’m the type who doesn’t eat when she’s upset, instead, I avoid eating altogether.
Apparently I’m too damn skinny I’m told at least 5 times a day, “you need to eat”.
I always say to my mother, “I’m a big girl deep down”, but what she doesn’t realize is that at night, I don’t bother to even touch the food she has made for the family.
My friends disregard me because apparently, “I have nothing to be concerned about”.
My grandmother had to feed me as a child because I was underweight and even then I didn’t want to eat.
Some of us start early.
Yes I am skinny and no, I don’t like it.
Thin shaming is just as hurtful as fat shaming. But no one acknowledges it.
No one sees this as a problem.
I’m sorry I don’t come with a shocking before and after photo.
But I do know how many lunches you have to skip before you start feeling the way that I feel.
I do know, that no matter how many times my boyfriend compliments me on my weight, I have never felt full.
I always wanted to be full.
I’m still thinking about how much I ate last night
And I felt pretty when I was empty.
But today I feel beautiful when I am full.
Poem by Zainab Ahmed
Every bite I take is poison
The taste is delicious and filled with temporary pleasures
But every time I eat it I know my time limit reduces
I see the Rodeo King riding down the beef patty mountain and onto the smoked bacon ground
The area is surrounded by the BBQ sand, the grass grows onion ring flowers
I take it all in and I could be here for hours and hours.. I could eat this for hours.
But I can feel the environment turning on me
The sand trying to suck me in, the avalanche of the mountain making its way towards me
The cracks in the bacon covered ground started shaking, earthquakes causing the holes to form
Everything slows down as I power down
For the first time I felt those 1400 calories drag me down
And then I look around and I realize the land is empty, it’s all gone.
No long term value but just short term fulfillment
You see I don’t live near Whole Foods - nah - that’s like 15 miles away
There ain’t no Sweetgreen or Great Sage that’s all the way up in Howard County
I only have places that prey on my low income status
That love to play with my health or lack of it
I live in a desert where desserts are our only options
And where vultures cash in on our bad financial situations while they keep the poison they feed us in circulation
Poem by Nya Epps
Hunger is a disturbance
It discomforts me and lacks sympathy
It tugs at my stomach
Like a child wanting attention from their mother
Then I have to tell to tell it, “wait a second”
just so I can focus on my academics
The more and more effort I put into this lesson,
the more I realize that this pain is not irrelevant
So I drop my pencil and unlock my phone
and push the Instagram icon to watch “mukbang” videos
As I sit and watch energized people stuff their faces
with mozzarella-filled corn dogs
It makes it easier to imagine satisfying flavor
Oh, how I desire the taste of salty cheese and the crisp fried layers covered in ketchup and mustard
Oh, how I desire the comfort of a excellently seasoned piece of salmon and asparagus with a side of fluffy mashed potatoes
Even when I’m at home, my hunger haunts me and lingers like a ghost
When I’m watching TV and “My 600 lbs Life” comes on
The unnecessarily obese can binge on 3 course meals to cope and find comfort
When I only have a bag of chips in the cupboard to tell my hunger to “shut up and move on to another”
See, I can’t get that same comfort nor can I cope with the bully named HUNGER
Poems by Kaliyah Greene
My mother and I take a trip down memory lane,
See the glorious plates of love & peace fade,
Replaced with the sounds of hungry bellies growling
Nothing could ever be so utmost foul.
I remember the days that I'd go without food,
Monday Tuesday Wednesday, never good.
Friday would be payday, heavenly, food in the fridge.
Saturdays maybe Sundays would be my chance,
Just to go through Hell all over again.
Momma would try and give me all,
But I couldn't let her succumb and fall,
To the parasite that is money withdrawals,
Going to this bill or to that.
I couldn't let her starve herself,
Just for a child she's raising herself.
So I shared the food just meant for me
and so we ate the food for today,
And tomorrow, and next day, that day.
All I now know is a belly so full,
What I would give to keep this up too.
My pain is no joke,
My past is not a memory,
Because for some it is the present,
And they might always be hungry.
These poems were written by young poets