Poem by Brenda Gunn
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.
Click to hear the poet read the poem.
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.
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The poems that follow are powerful evidence that Poetry Speaks Back to Hunger!