Monday, June 26, 2017

"People Are Starving" by John C. Mannone

People Are Starving
John C. Mannone

Wall-to-wall people
standing and waiting
to be fed, so many
eyes empty—hollowed
out bowls. It’s always busy
at the end of the week.
            Fridays are good,
people are hungry,
aromas—opulent as soup
lines. Many mouths
gape open for bread.
            It was a sin
to leave anything
on my plate. So, I say
grace in the booth
at the Italian bistro,
            kneel into
the stained glass
dish in front of me
with a broken piece
of bread to sop up
a dishful of olive oil
pressed with bits
of crumbled oregano
and basil, garlic granules,
coarse salt and parsley
            in remembrance
of bitter herbs.
Red pepper clinging
in the back of my throat.
I choke
out a moment of silence
for my own guilt
from which I was once
delivered, but still starves
            an empty heart
full of unholy words,
panging from the
wall-to-wall hunger
            in my soul.

Poet’s Notes: I came early for dinner at Carrabbas Italian Restaurant before it became a crowded Friday evening. People lined the walls, so to speak, and I had a flash of the soup lines in a larger city in which I had once lived. Thoughts from my Catholic upbringing seeped in from my subconscious, like “it’s a sin to waste food” and “there are people starving all around the world.”

I didn’t know where the poem was going when I started writing it. I was as surprised as I hope you were. All that religious subtext up welled, and no doubt, from Amos stating that man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by the word of God. 

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