Perhaps the World Ends Here

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 teethe 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 at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., www.wwnorton.com.

The Great Tablecloth
by Pablo Neruda

When they were called to the table,
the tyrants came rushing
with their temporary ladies;
it was fine to watch the women pass
like wasps with big bosoms
followed by those pale
and unfortunate public tigers.The peasant in the field ate
his poor quota of bread,
he was alone, it was late,
he was surrounded by wheat,
but he had no more bread;
he ate it with grim teeth,
looking at it with hard eyes.In the blue hour of eating,
the infinite hour of the roast,
the poet abandons his lyre,
takes up his knife and fork,
puts his glass on the table,
and the fishermen attend
the little sea of the soup bowl.
Burning potatoes protest
among the tongues of oil.
The lamb is gold on its coals
and the onion undresses.
It is sad to eat in dinner clothes,
like eating in a coffin,
but eating in convents
is like eating underground.
Eating alone is a disappointment,
but not eating matters more,
is hollow and green, has thorns
like a chain of fish hooks
trailing from the heart,
clawing at your insides.Hunger feels like pincers,
like the bite of crabs,
it burns, burns and has no fire
Hunger is a cold fire.Let us sit down soon to eat
with all those who haven’t eaten;
let us spread great tablecloths,
put salt in the lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries,
tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself
from which we can all eat.

For now I ask no more
than the justice of eating.

What Will Save Us
From Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth
By Alice Walker

The restoration to the cow
Of her dignity.

The restoration to the pig
Of his intelligence.

The restoration to the child
Of her sacredness.

The restoration to the woman
Of her will.

The restoration to the man
Of his tenderness.

Beans Green and Yellow
From Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
By Mary Oliver 

In fall
it is mushrooms
gathered in dampness
under the pines;
in spring
I have known the taste of the lamb
full of milk
and spring grass;
it is beans green and yellow
and lettuce and basil
from my friend’s garden –
how calmly,
as thought it were an ordinary thing,
we eat the blessed earth.


Despite the Hunger
From Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth
By Alice Walker 

the hunger
we cannot
in a garden
our own.


Excerpt from The New Organic Grower
By Eliot Coleman

Working with living creatures, both plant and animal, is what makes agriculture different from any other production enterprise. Even though a product is produced, in farming the process is anything but industrial. It is biological. We are dealing with a vital, living system rather than an inert manufacturing process.  The skills required to manage a biological system are similar to those of the conductor of an orchestra.  The musicians are all very good at what they do individually.  The role of the conductor is not to play each instrument, but rather to nurture the union of the disparate parts.  The conductor coordinates each musician’s effort with those of all the others and combines them in a harmonious whole.  Agriculture cannot be an industrial process any more than music can be.  It must be understood differently from stamping this metal into that shape or mixing these chemicals and reagents to create that compound.  The major workers – the soil microorganisms, the fungi, the mineral particles, the sun, the air, the water = are all parts of a system, and it is not just the employment of any one of them, but the coordination of the whole that achieves success.


The Perfect Day
By Alice Persons

You wake with
no aches
in the arms
of your beloved
to the smell of fresh coffee
you eat a giant breakfast
with no thought
of carbs
there is time to read
with a purring cat on your lap
later you walk by the ocean
with your dog
on this cut crystal day
your favorite music and the sun
fill the house
a short delicious nap
under a fleece throw
comes later
and the phone doesn’t ring
at dusk you roast a chicken,
bake bread, make an exquisite
chocolate cake
for some friends
you’ve been missing
someone brings you an
unexpected present
and the wine is just right with the food
after a wonderful party
you sink into sleep
in a clean nightgown
in fresh sheets
your sweetheart doesn’t snore
and in your dreams
and old piece of sadness
lifts away


Weatherbee’s Diner
By Calef Brown

Whenever you’re looking for something to eat,
Weatherbee’s Diner is just down the street.
Start off your meal with a bottle of rain.
Fog on the glass is imported from Maine.
The thunder is wonderful, order it loud,
with sun-dried tornado on top of a cloud.
Snow Flurry Curry is also a treat.
It’s loaded with lightning and slathered in sleet.
Cyclones with hailstones are great for dessert,
but have only one or your belly will hurt.
Regardless of whether it’s chilly or warm,
at Weatherbee’s diner they cook up a storm!


Poem for a Chocolatada, 2009
By Hannah Renglich

A toast to those who gather to celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest:
Here’s to your health and well being.  Here’s to long conversations
filled with the glow of candlelight.
Here’s to the taste of justice each fork delivers to the tongue,
when eating from the soil you have worked with your own two hands.
Here’s to ancient recipes for chocolate, and to those who pass on
their secrets to the delight of the rest.
Here’s to the pleasure of our five senses, which allow us
to find joy in an evening filled with aromatic, colourful, sensuous morsels of food,
prepared lovingly by our friends and family.
Here’s to the miracle of the seed, from which springs forth new life,
providing an abundance from which to sow the next generation of plants.
Here’s to future generations, who may know the blessings of
home-grown, local meals, sustainable food systems,
and backyard gardens.
Here’s to your thoughtful, caring company, which graces the room tonight,
nourishing our souls as we nourish our bodies.
As you celebrate, may you be filled with satisfaction, happiness, wisdom, love,
and above all, a sense of peace.

2 thoughts on “Poems

  1. Pingback: Ahimsa and Food, Part 2: No birth, no death, and the extraordinary broccoli | PeaceMeal Project

  2. Pingback: No Birth, No Death, and Extraordinary Broccoli | The Peace Practice

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