Poem of the Week, by Ruth Awad

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The food shelf three blocks north is extremely busy these days. People trundle down the sidewalk with wheeled carts holding brown paper bags of food or load bags of groceries into old rumbly cars. The little free library outside the church now holds cans and boxes of non-perishable food.

I don’t like capitalism. When I say that out loud I often follow it up with as-practiced-in-our-country, because saying you hate capitalism here in the “richest country on earth,” where 1% of Americans have amassed more money than the bottom 50% tends to get you pushback. Usually from people who have lots of money or who want lots of money. Who sometimes assume you’re a fan of Communism, which, nope.

Why the pushback? Maybe because we’re taught that all you need to do is work hard, work harder, just keep working, and if you end up poor it’s your own fault because you didn’t work hard enough? Maybe because we’re so used to the systems we’re born into that it’s hard to see what’s right in front of our eyes? Like that man with the cart who passed by yesterday, one of the wheels about to fall off.

Hunger, by Ruth Awad

Imaginary, the value of the pound, and yet when it drops
like an apple rotted from its branch, my family may starve.
1,507 pounds to the dollar. What that means if you’re not
an economist: a kilogram of meat is now a luxury. A line
huddles outside a Beirut bakery though the price of subsidized
bread is up again. The worst financial crisis in 150 years,
the World Bank says. And I don’t see the story anywhere
here. In my house with its lights on. Where I choose to skip
meals. Once we were stitched together by food stamps.
Dirt poor, my mother describes it, though land is more valuable
than almost anything. America and its incongruent abundance:
fields of corn and the hungry in the streets. The cattle well fed.
Security guards in grocery stores. If you die from hunger, the spirit
goes searching for food and the wanting never stops. Hard to say
what you’d do to live. My father picked an apple from someone’s
tree, was chased until he dropped it. If you steal an apple, it’s a crime.
If you withhold an apple from someone who’s hungry, it’s not.

Click here for more information on Ruth Awad.


Words by Winter: my podcast

One comment

  1. Lady Shamla Rose · October 15

    Beloved Alison McGhee

    *I looked at Ruth Awad’s page. Thank You. It is impressive. And she is
    so pretty.

    Our world needs changing, we know this. I am sharing above where I am
    today, 15th October 2022, when your e-mail arrived.

    In love, with love, for love
    Shamla of Shamballa



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