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Hunger, by Natasha Labaze

Every day, every hour, every minute, every second The stomachs growled with hunger… The stomachs moaned in yearning… The stomachs growled with anger…

The anger Frustration The hunger Rumbled beneath the earth

Earthquake Earth sake Forsake For God’s sake…

The Hungry stomachs rumbled, So loud Not to destroy But to be heard

To find solace They heaved a sigh A sigh released with a wave of destruction Since the distended bellies And dusty bare feet vanished in the dust exhaled by the proud SUVs

The earth rumbled from below A fault line Line between the have and have-nothing A fault line Cracked

The World crumbled The walls crumbled The high walls of mansions Separating the have-more-than-needed from the have-less-than-needed The walls never meant to crumble on the people The fallen walls wanted to unite the people

See–only the walls could see both sides of the world The splashing pools on one side of the colossal gates The empty dry gallons hanging from a child’s hand, on the other

The walls could no longer bear such discrepancy The walls could no longer balance imbalance Of haggard merchant women crowned with heavy baskets Dragging feet in torn flimsy sandals Queens poising the burden of livelihood on their heads

On her head, a basket of plush and withered red Tomatoes settled with the afternoon sun

The sound of her moaning children propelled the merchant woman To keep climbing the hill of dry pebbles back home To soothe the hunger of her children

The earth shook The merchant woman now lurched For stability leaning against the immense red gate Her basket of unsold tomatoes spilled right past the now Open metal gates That daily used to slide open like a magic curtain… Just in time for the woman, her children To peek at the bright yellow house wrapped by a royal porch…

This time the gate remained wide open Splashed on the ground the tomatoes Smashed against the arms and legs of The boy that must have slid this magic gate open Every day The boy’s legs now buried under loosened cement blocks Blood-stained…

Was it blood? Was it her tomatoes—the blood she shed and struggled to sell The blood he shed…. The suffocating dust rose like a shroud

The yells and moans rose

Her children’s stomachs grumbled… Rumbled with hunger…

for 35 seconds

The world stood still noticed Just for a moment… Offerings poured into the groping hands surging from beneath the parched Curtain of dust Hunger rumbles beneath

The earth…


Natasha Labaze is an English teacher in Massachusetts. Her parents are Haitian and moved to the United States in the 1960s. Her late mother instilled in her a complex love for Haiti. She has published a prose poem entitled, “Reflections on Water”  among others in the online literary magazine, Tanbou.  She has also published a piece, “Love Letter to Haiti” in Bronx Biannual, Issue 2. The original version of her poem, “Hunger,” was published online by the Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc.  She performed this revised version of “Hunger” for the Lydia Arts Fair and for a fundraiser for Haiti.  Natasha Labaze’s most recent poem, “A Moment of Silence” was selected for a local poetry/art exhibit.

Natasha Labaze can be reached at


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