This week's story is about Hunger, Bruises, Plans and Silences, seen through the eyes of a boy

Eating From a Spring

by Jimmy Murdoch

After we started fasting

My sister's dad came and dropped off a cake

It was Momma's Birthday

The first hesitation was the longest, not wanting to break something so sacred

This was bigger than hunger

But the pain won over and we all gave in

Momma had the first bite and made us wait ten minutes

Like rolling red through a caution light

It could have been our last

But it was only a fast...

We halfway smiled for surviving

and since God's anger is divine...

We feasted for the apocalypse

Every few hours a piece got amputated

It took us three days

Until it was broken down to icing

Momma started praying

Who the hell would poison a Birthday cake?


God's help and forgiveness follows punishment

Plus he's a jealous one.

So for putting our stomachs first,

He broke us down like verses

We ate ice cubes then slept away the hunger

No words can fill the voids of my sister's disappointment

Everyday her daddy promised to take her out to eat

By his fourth call I knew for sure he was evil

But Momma still schemed, turning survival into a game

teaching her precious four year old daughter how to get mileage out of a meal

"Baby eat some chicken and vegetables first and plenty of rice and bread

And if you can,

put something in some napkins

like a few wings and some cookies for your brother but don't tell nobody it's for us.

Just ask your daddy's girlfriend to put it all in her purse.

BABY MAKE SURE you eat some meat and vegetables first, and some noodles too

the starch...

...Spaghetti is perfect

And MAKE SURE that if your bring anything back they don't know it's for us"

After he never showed, my sister downed a bottle of Robitussin.

Hard water was no longer enough for her.

The ambulance rushed them to a sandwich and some chips

Then Shonta came to get us

She dropped us at the Spring, a battered women's shelter that had fences like a prison.

I remembered having breakfast with a black eye

She moved like silence

Some ghosts are alive while dying

When she walked away from the table,

The that had more types of cereal than any kid could have prayed for...

I had to eat the heart break with a cup of compartmentalization.

Orange juice feels like razor blades

When you cut your throat trying to find the right words to say,

to a wrong world broken beyond your wisdom

It's said after falling through that prism,

You become divided.

Like a man trapped in a boy's body with four eyes and no eyelids

Some things aren't meant for seeing

Some nights were like a museum

When we gathered to eat

The bruised displayed filled the space with stories

And the seasoned greens brought out laughter

when it was discovered that it's not just a black thing.

White women can chew some grease too.

It's amazing what good food can do to an attitude

It ain't chicken noodle soup that's good for the soul...

It's cornbread, fried chicken gizzards and three cheese macaroni

served as a side

Those moments we stood in line, in rows

Everybody holding out a different plate of hope

Some still plotting an escape

Some are going back to him

Some hoping their son's don't turn into their dads

Some don't even bother to hope they just wait on tomorrow

'cause they used their planning up to get through today

For some this was the most they ever ate

We are fortunate to have received this second poem by Jimmy Murdoch.

He writes to us from prison, as a student of the non-profit writing program "Exchange for Change".

"Exchange for Change" teaches writing in prisons and runs letter exchanges between

incarcerated writers and writers on the outside.

"We believe in the value of every voice, and we give our students an opportunity to express themselves without the fear of being stigmatized. When everyone has the ability to listen and be heard, strong and safe communities are formed". - Exchange for Change

To learn more "Exchange for Change", their great work and positive impact, please visit their website:

I extend my deep gratitude to Kathie Klarreich, Executive Director of "Exchange for Change", for her time, enthusiasm and participation in this ongoing project:

We Remember What We ate", and to Jimmy Murdoch for sharing his memories and artistic prowess through his deeply etched, honest, insightful, and poignant poetry.


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