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A Few of Our Favorite Food Poems

Progress by Grace Darby

When I was a girl,

Eggs were warm, silky brown ,

From haystack barn, manger

Where the hens laid them down .

When I was a girl,

There were pigs in the sty ,

And bacon sides, home cured, to cut and to fry .

When I was a girl,

Meat hung red in the shop .

Cut to your order Steak, sirloin, or chop. When I was a girl,

Fruit was picked from the tree,

And veg from the garden

Spud, cabbage, or pea. When I was a girl,

All the old people said

‘We must all eat a full peck of dirt

Ere we’re dead. And now I am old,

Food comes from afar.

Packed in cardboard and plastic container or jar

And it’s all so hygienic and clean as can be.

And it all tastes of nothing to oldies like me.

(Progress was the Winner of the Food Poetry Competition for British National Poetry Day 2004)

Colours of Life by Pauline Morgan

Cherry red tomatoes cascade

From the hanging baskets,

Bunches of feathery leaves show

The hiding places of orange carrots,

Yellow courgettes lurk beneath

Dinner-plate sized foliage,

Runner beans clamber into the apple tree,

The green pods dangling just out of reach,

Blueberries – do they count – swell

To ripeness beside blue-flowered borage,

Brambles skulk in the hedge, the berries

Plump with indigo coloured juice,

In the glasshouse, violet blossoms

Change slowly to purple aubergines. I am growing a rainbow in my garden,

And I can eat it.

(Colours of Life was Runner-up of the Food Poetry Competition 2004)

Untitled, by Katharine Jager

Food is culture, the made thing, light turned into

sustenance, something from nothing.

Food is what makes us human.

Untitled by Chip Berlet

Bread alone would help

Yet stale upper crust helps not

Hunger for justice

Food is… by Melony Swasey

dug from the ground

fallen from trees

caught downstream

fatty and cured wet and dry, slippery and coarse

earthen

necessary

sustenance a reason to come together

a way forward

a way out yet,

corrupted

manufactured

taken for granted

in ways untold

Excerpt from “I See My Girl” by Sharon Olds (from The Gold Cell)

You ask for something to eat

and my heart leaps up, I take off your backpack and we

lean your cello against a chair and

then I can sit and watch you eat chocolate pudding,

spoonful after careful spoonful, your

tongue moving slowly over the mixture

in deep pleasure, Oh it’s good, Mom,

it’s good, you beam, and the air around your face

shines with the dark divided shining of goodness.

Perhaps the World Ends Here by by Joy Harjo (from The Woman Who Fell From The Sky)

© Joy Harjo, 1994

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teeth at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end here at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite