The Hunger Bowl

The Hunger Bowl

The Hunger Bowl

One of the galleries that I work with – Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley – is again doing a charity project in conjunction with The Salvation Army to raise money for and bring attention to homeless children.  Like last year, we had wooden bowls donated by Ikea, and participating artists collected a bowl to decorate as they saw fit, according to the theme.  My bowl for this year was primarily poetry, although I backdropped this with a transparent sky-theme coating against the wood.  I had intended to do a transparent watercolor layer of blue and ‘lift out’ clouds with cotton wool, but there were just a few patches where I hadn’t sanded the coating off well enough, and they made a few cloud entities, so I decided to leave it as is.

The wording is:

Hunger.

I stare into the bowl –
The bowl is empty –
as empty as my stomach –
as empty as hope –
as empty as the rooms in the house we were forced to leave –
everything sold on craigslist –
or swapmeet or yardsale –
all the furniture gone –
trying to meet the mortage –
only getting the forclosure papers –
the eviction notice on the door –
the staplegun’s shot echoing like an executioners rifle through the hollow of the empty rooms –
as hollow as empty as the hearts of the so-called neighbors –
who closed their doors and looked the other way –
with souls as empty as my Dad’s wallet –
as empty as my Mom’s purse –
as their bank account
and my head is spinning round and round –
like the bowl –
like us driving round and round –
trying to find a place to sleep in the car tonight –
we don’t know where to go to sleep –
we don’t know where to go to find work –
we don’t know where to go to live –
our lives are empty –
our futures are empty –
tomorrow echoes back at us like a threat –
that this is just the beginning
that the empty bowl is spinning –
the wheel of misfortune rolling down the road of forever –
and as it spins it gets deeper and deeper –
and harder to climb out of –
and emptier and hungrier –
with every passing cloud –
that is reflected in its shining chasm –
reminding us that there is no roof over our heads –
there is no food –
there is only hunger and tomorrow –
there is only homelessness and tomorrow –
and going round and round –
to our so-called favorite spots –
is there shelter or not –
is there food or not –
is there work or not –
is there hope or –
no there is never hope –
there is only this bowl –
the hollow bowl –
the begging bowl –
put food in my bowl –
put money in my bowl –
put work in my parents’ bowl –
but if I turn over the bowl –
I cannot turn it into a roof over our heads –
I cannot empty the misfortune out of the bowl –
I cannot empty the hunger out of the bowl –
I cannot empty the poverty out of the bowl –
it just gets deeper and emptier every time a hopeless tomorrow turns into another empty today –
and the world turns –
year on year –
into another homeless today –
year on year –
into another penniless day –
year on year –
into another hungry today

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