"A Starving Star" By Deja Epps
care tactic: write about how not eating causes bones to break and dissipate and crumble away like dust because malnourishment can lead to arthritis which as a result leads to cartilage in joints to break down and cause bone rubbing.
Typically, we get lost in a crowd of cheers
Especially when you can genuinely tell yourself
“Oh wow, those are for me?”
You know, those moments in a storyline where the character’s dreams are closer in proximity
That sweet opportunity to let adrenaline blind the hunger is easier to reach
Reality begins to fade as you walk up the steps of the stage
I conjure up my bow
And hoist up my violin
I tune its sound
And the show finally begins
For only a split second my mind disappears into a dream
Only before I hear an animalistic scream
As if with the snap of a finger
My arms begin to shake
They then lock and rattle like skeleton bones
Withstanding an earthquake
I look to stage left, then to the right
Oh no! My reality demons have come to cause strife
My arms turn grey
And my beloved child shatters as it hits the floor
My limbs then turn black
And my demons laughter begins to roar
“Help me! Help me!”
I scream into the audience
But no sympathy just plain empty faces
This was no longer heaven
Six feet under I felt
Soon my body was frozen
My neck went stiff
My knees buckled in
The mind and body were no longer connected
My carcass turned black and my hands started to crack They soon began to disappear
Like dust I watched my talent, my passion that was carried in my hands
Immerse from my body like a dust devil
The demons who wear suits flew in with dust pans
And when done exited stage left…
And when the disaster came to an end
There was nothing left of me.
His name is Steven
He is 10
His ribs poke out of his skin
His legs quiver as he walks
His back telling stories no book has the spine to carry
All because people don’t want their last bites
They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure
But they forgot that one man’s trash can be another man’s life, his livelihood
I can hear the cries of a child saying “mama I’m hungry”
It’s toxic waste
he walks into a store looking for something healthy to eat on a budget
just about 1$ to spend
but the salad he wants is 5.00 vs the mcdonald’s hamburger that’s .99
Where in other places they throw away their $2 ones
America is the capital of obesity
but strutting the authority to exercise
but what about the kids who are food deprived
starving themselves to feel like they fit in
While others throw away food for sport
her name is amber
she has insecurities
she doesn’t get enough to eat at home
She walks down the halls of her high-school
And the kids tease her
Because she’s thin, fragile to touch
but what they failed to realize is
amber’s family has no money
they judged her by the appearances
she ended up starving herself to feel accepted
Just to trim her waist
Her family afraid that she’ll waste away
when you fix your plate the first thing you think of when you get full is to throw away your scraps
But what you don’t understand is that all you’re doing is adding to the
K: Of sugary sweet lies and revelations
Z: And of the fiery spice of life and death
K; Something Unique, something that is defined not by the food we eat but the buds on our tongue
Z: The morphine, dopamine, and dynorphin within the brain coated from the flavors of vain
Both: But the identification of the flavors are tricky
K: I identify as a syrupy sweet, unseasonably fresh flavor, something so plush and lush on the tongue, sending waves of morphine and euphoria down your spine, like hot chocolate with a dash of nutmeg. Causing a lie of happiness down your throat. A la-la land of something fragrant. True to the dopamine I cause when you take a bite of that soothing vanilla macaron. But beware, a banana boat of disaster floats your way. Too much of me can and will cost your mind. I will make you addicted, become unhealthy, go crazed, and wish you could stay away from the chocolate drowning you in its sugars and the gumdrops of your anxieties. Thus a start of a licorice beginning and a Twizzlers end. But this never really was my choice, it was always yours.
Z: I identify as piquant, hot, and tempting. One taste of me and I’ll get your blood pumping. And you’ll be drowning in pepper soup and you open your eyes and see your surrounded by the thick heat like Suya being barbecued over charcoal fire. I give you a chance to live on the wild side of life. A quick journey as though you going on a speed race, running away from your problems, zooming fast like a car chase. You traveling north trying to run away from the flames lookin for ways to escape but you can’t resist when that Kilishi comes your way. Cause I am a high. A natural drug. As soon as you taste me all you’ll see is color, all you’ll see is red. All you’ll hear is your heart beating so fast it’ll sound like drums bringing you into the next life. But of course you realize this is all a game, right? The devil’s tango, didn’t mommy and daddy teach you about places you can't go? I am a high. But every rush must come crashing down. All of the sudden your world’s gone dim, looks like you’ve had too much ata din din. Leaving you with a sigh of relief that you’ve once again survived the spice, and once you’ve caught your breath you’ll come back to taste the fire.
K: the vindictiveness of something so meticulous and melancholic, it's strawberry ice cream sprinkled with cyanide.
Z: the seductiveness and nostalgic presence of something like a Carolina reaper on the run.
Both: Flavors are nothing to be played with, but something to watch out for. Go deeper if you must, but tread lightly in the dust.
K: Because something so sweet
Z: and something heavily spicy
Both: Can be deadly.
stomach growling as I crave for food
mouth watery as flavors lurk in my thoughts and
my mood changes
they say ”food doesn’t happen without work “ but what happens to those
who are looked past and forgotten?
starved and deprived with
no years supply
This became my life
add a pinch of truth
mix in a heaping table spoon of want
I’m so hungry
Food stamps haven’t come in
so wheat bread, processed ham or turkey, & mayonnaise sandwiches with water is what I’m devouring
Oh good my “favorite “
or maybe I’m used to it - it was cheap & easy to fix fast and quick
Better meals I’ve prayed for it
I’m not trying to be a disturbance
to the system but I’m hungry
You must not understand my language
so allow me to reverse the script
Step into my shoes
Open your ears and hear your stomach speak
It’s desire for you to eat
I’m hungry and my spell is on you
Now tell me
Aren’t you hungry too?
"Kitchen Echoes" 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
The sound of my stomach and the food not coating my lips is the only thing I can think of as I scroll, click and type through this computerized chemistry test
My churning stomach can’t determine what number should be placed as the coefficient to balance this chemical equation
Did anyone hear the hunger sound alarm that just went off inside of me?
Sweat begins to trickle down my forehead
Suppressing the onset of embarrassment begins to feel like a new goal instead of anticipating the end of this exam
My aching esophagus can’t decide whether or not if I should choose A or C as one of my multiple choice answers
But the only thing I dream of deciding for is whether to put country crock butter or strawberry flavored cream cheese on a raisin cinnamon toast bagel
Or….if my taste buds would prefer the iconic salt & pepper duo over a few shakes of lemon pepper on some fried eggs, just to soothe the sounds of emptiness that flare up my adrenal strikes
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but hunger isn’t limited to morning, noon, or night
Especially for me, when the hunger I endure each day continues the fight
Pain or Focus?
Hunger or Success?
I look at me and I look at you,
In the cracked mirror in the bathroom.
And I see someone I never seem to knew,
How do you do that?
Get so skinny that I can see the bone,
Lips so cracked and dry a monsoon couldn't fix it,
Stomach growl so loud that the people can feel its vibrations
What's that on his plate?
The kid next door....
Three slices of ham, handful of peas, and a buttermilk biscuit
He ain't hungry, he never starves, but me?
No I'm starving
Never mind… I'm ravenous.
The nearest store is 30 min drive away,
And I know we can't possibly pay,
For the next day of food
School doesn't provide enough nutrients
And I know I should just be grateful about what I have but I can't
I'm so hungry.
My mind replaces algorithms with apple pie,
English with English muffins,
Technology with toasted collard greens and I oh I'm so damn hungry.
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?
"Desserts" 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
"Bully" 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