I imagine each of us has an idea where we want our poem to live. Some perhaps in a book or literary journal or maybe just the desktop. I like to think that some poems can live in peoples bodies. A poem that resonates and remains with an individual hiding in the background waiting for that moment of rejoining. I want the words of my poems to sit quietly next to a human heart and when the time is right join.
I wrote the poem below for the 2020 World Food Day competition. I didn’t win but it was published in an online journal a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to share it with you. The poem has found it’s home with the Poetry X Hunger site. The site was initiated by Hiram Larew and links poetry to the cause of hunger in the world. Its what we do as poets – shine a light on the issue at hand and tell the story as we see it. The site is impressive. https://www.poetryxhunger.com/
The WFD competition is an annual event held by the Food and Agriculture Organization and this year I watched as presenters from the FAO and it’s international affiliates shared dismal statistics on hunger and food insecurity from around the world. Sadly, this is something we could actually fix if we acted in unison with the world and not prideful.
During these pandemic days I have pondered about what to do with myself. How can I help myself through this time of quarantine, how can I help others? As people we often define ‘lowly’ as inferior or the bottom. The Bible defines lowly as humble and free from self pride. I am going to stop thinking of how assertive I must be during this pandemic. I am going to help my neighbors more and rest in the lowliness of this time. It would be great if you join me for the Poor Peoples March on (Monday) 11/23 @ 2:30 ET online or at one of 25 State & DC Caravans for #MoralMonday, to mourn the nearly 250K Americans who have died from #COVID19 & mobilize for a just COVID relief, a smooth transition & a moral agenda now! #PoorPeoplesCampaign
Prayer Line in Koreatown LA
I watched the line in Koreatown LA wrap around the city block
As if the city of Jericho resided inside and with a shout it would fall.
The voice of pandemic screams at the empty garden.
There is quiet order like rows in a field, no messiness.
A standing line awaiting to be blessed.
Like traditional seedlings, the environmental yield is low.
Low income, lower level, low budget, lowly.
The choir at Immanuel Church a cappella
Holding what is left of the relics of a food desert. The church was
Built in 1882, the year Charles Darwin died.
Where is the Humanity in all this?
A complex phenomenon of food pantries, soup kitchens
Church side doors and Mother Mary.
Who sees her children hungry waiting to be fed.
Food as sacred as the loaves broken to feed the multitudes,
Its sovereignty violated by principalities drunk on exploitation.
The numbers rise 120, 500, 1000, 2000 in line,
Now regulars among the cries from the Mother of Exiles.
Shall we paint the nave golden? Perhaps the one
that Emma Lazarus wrote about the year after Darwin died.
Here the huddled masses yearn to eat, to work, all essential.
Standing quietly together just one of a million measured miles.
The tide has come bringing pandemic pandemonium.
Here the church Immanuel sustains us, shows us how to pray.
This poem was published earlier this month in The Nest
on online publication by the The Rising Phoenix Review