It's just poetry, it won't bite

Food Stamps

03.03.18 Posted in today's words by

Shirley Jones-Luke’s most recent poem to appear here was “Ars Poetica for Horizons of Earth and Sky” (January 2018).

Food Stamps
By Shirley Jones-Luke


The mailman always runs
late on Saturdays,
my brother and I stare out
the living room window
with growling stomachs,
ma was in the kitchen banging
pots and pans, singing a hymn,
we don’t know the words 


Poverty is a vice, we struggle
Not to be choked on its
expectations of us, a repeated
cycle, ma always told us
education was the way out,
“Do better than me,” she would
say, I had all As on my report card,
my brother could spell his name


The mailman arrives like Apollo
pulling the sun across the sky. I swear
the house grew brighter, our stomachs
stopped growling and the birds chirped
in the gnarled trees, we would eat
today and every day for at least a month
before ma would start singing hymns again

2 Responses to “Food Stamps”

  1. Hiram Larew says:

    I’m hoping to work on a Poetry X Hunger project that gathers up existing poems about hunger and calls for creation of new ones. I’d like to keep this one in mind. Hiram Larew (

  2. Howard Stein says:

    “Food Stamps” is gripping story of poverty in the form of a poem. It reads as a kind of triptych. I love the symmetry of growling stomachs and ma singing hymns in the first and third stanzas.

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