Tonight is the harvest moon
when the full moon rises early,
sits upright on the horizon,
bright as sun in lingering twilight.
Field hands grab a couple more hours –
cut, bundle, and sort the crops,
children tag after, search out the leavings,
nothing to waste.
It’s not labor to gather the gleanings,
cross the pasture, wash them for a neighbor,
waft the scent before hollow cheeks,
fill bare spaces with a harvest moon.
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Cindy M. Buhl lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the Writers Center. For over two decades she has worked in Congress as a foreign policy expert, with an intense focus on hunger, food security, nutrition, and agriculture. Her work has appeared in Spillway Magazine, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Minerva Rising, NELLE, San Pedro River Review, District Lines, and elsewhere.
This is for all
the things we start on,
hold like a ball of
warm in our hands,
imagine the loaf
glazed and golden,
sitting there on the table
ready to share
with others drawn
to the sweet, yeasty smell
of two friends succeeding
in putting away
against tomorrow’s hunger – one
sunny afternoon, two women
to stir together
the plain, ancient mix
of water, and grain
then draw from the air
where it always waits
the yeast, to join
with our kneading hands
to make this live –
this loaf we see so clearly
waiting to rise.
Ottawa poet Susan McMaster has published some 40 poetry books and word music recordings. She founded Branching Out, Canada’s first national
feminist/arts magazine; and Waging Peace: Politics & Political Action, which brought poetry and art from across Canada to Parliament. She’s a
former president of the League of Canadian Poets.
Seeds of Grace and the Hope of Harvest
I hold in my left hand
a past that was given a poor woman’s name, Hope,
she carries a child in her belly who will walk the earth
with only grains and rainwater to feed his body,
when the child is released to earth like crop and cornhusk,
he will feed the world through heart and hope,
his mother will place the earth in his hand,
his life will be a testiment of sacrifice and seeds.
And in each arm,
he will carry the prospect of hope and the pain of hunger,
he will weep for the unfed, and mourn the sick and dying,
he will examine the lives of those who holda field of crops
and livestock in their hand, food and water, and shelter
he will loosen the soil around the hearts that bury an answer
he will pray for each closed mind to open a harvest of hope
he will shake loose the trees to feed the poor,
sift through the fields for the compassion of strangers
to find a savior.
I hold in my right hand
a future that was given a rich woman’s name, Grace,
she grows the earth back green and finds a savior in the sun,
we are the ripened fruit of the shaken trees,
we are the hands that will plant the earth
before a child’s empty belly protudes,
before tears fall to hollow’s hunger,
we are the overgrown fields that will feed the famine,
we are the knotted past that will unknit
scarcity and deprivation by sewing seeds of Grace
and becoming the hope of the harvest.
Diane Wilbon Parks (Prince George’s County, MD) is a poet, visual artist, and author; Diane has written a Children’s Book and two poetry collections; her most recent, published collection is The Wisdom of Blue Apples. Diane is one of six PG County Poets whose poetry has been highlighted throughout the DMV. She celebrated the permanent installation of one of her poems and art pieces at the Patuxent Research Refuge - North Tract.
Whadda ya mean you don’t like that kind?
You little ingrate, what gives you the right?
Show some respect;
beggars can’t be choosers, my mother used to say.
You think this is some kinda restaurant?
a fast food place, a Timmie’s drive-thru?
May I offer you a menu, ma’am?
How about dessert? Hey, I got news for you –
there’s no happy meal here; no golden rule
says we gotta keep you fed - no prerequisite,
no extra credit;
we do it out of the goodness of our hearts.
In my day we didn’t expect to be fed at school
by god, we ate what was plunked
in front of us
and were grateful for it. We minded our manners
lip-synced grace; still, she reminded us nightly
to clean our plates, there were children
starving in Biafra.
She bets they would appreciate the hard work
and sacrifice to provide her kids wholesome balanced
homemade meals. We knew better than to ask
how stuffing our bellies
til we were full enough to puke, helped
the big-eyed kids Lotta Hitschmanova pitched
for on those dinner-hour TV PSAs for the USC.
Turn that damn thing off
my father used to yell
I’m trying to enjoy a meal here!
And I’ll tell you what; we didn’t leave the table
til we’d eaten every bite. Even then we had to ask
to be excused
and it better be a ‘may I,’ or our just desserts
just might be a flying knuckle sandwich.
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Since retiring in 2017, Brenda's immersion in family research inspired a collection of poetry based on her paternal ancestry. A proud member of the Edmonton Stroll of Poets and the Parkland Poet's Society, her work has been published in Canadian journals and anthologies. Brenda is completing a certificate in creative writing and is at work on a second collection of poems.
where ever you are--here,
tonight, gazing across this
Malibu canyon--or there,
thirty-six years ago, sitting at
the kitchen table, your open face
reflected in the silver of cans
left over from a war, the wolf
in your belly already growling
for golden peach halves bobbing in
sweet syrup even as your uncle
took each round tin out of the box
and stacked them on your mother’s
table--say that even when you were
alone, later, in the dark kitchen,
shaking each to solve their mystery,
that even when you opened the one
you were sure held fruit and found
instead what you hated most--lumpy,
yellow, creamed corn--you ate it anyway--
say that in this moment so long gone
you see your life, each day peach gold
or corn yellow, nights devoured like
sugared plums or endured spoon
by spoon swallowing a black mush
salted with stars--say that this
is the best there is and so you’ll
have it--say it and eat it and say it
till there is nothing left to say.
Mornings I go Polish, potato pancakes and dark humor,
sausage and Symborska, laughter like a mountain stream
trickling through blue shadow, Milosz’ rooster singing
the earth’s terrible waking.
What is the day breaking sunny-side without a word?
What is the work waiting, the face coming down the stairs,
the moon melting in the mouth of clouds? What good are
the songs if not to sing?
Afternoons I picnic lightly, lie under an umbrella brushed
with clouds, nibble on greens of watercress, lady fern
and haiku, slices of orange and Basho, the world in a
palm of shimmering pond.
A thrush trills from a cherry tree. A white lilac breathes
a sweet bouquet. Prayer flags flutter blessings to the sun.
I doze, dream perhaps, turn hawk, wing, glide silently,
wantonly through the dusk.
Evenings I dine on halved moons, the darker side of
absence. Through the window, Transtrommer’s train,
heavy with burdens, waits. Vallejo passes by with a
loaf of bread, weeping.
Dark matter swallows the light, burns with unrequited
desire, night not night but unending shadow, I black hole
to my day. I spoon soup, stew, see a cow still as a boulder
eaten by a school of stars.
Click to listen to the poet read the poems.
rg cantalupo is a poet, playwright, filmmaker, novelist, and director. His work has been published widely in literary journals in the United States, England, and Australia.
The poems that follow are powerful evidence that Poetry Speaks Back to Hunger!