Neruda, Trump, and the Justice of Eating

Trump Tower billboard, Mumbai

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.

Pablo Neruda



Each day your mailbox fills
With postcard offers to buy your house
Your neighbor’s trimmings
Dropped over the fence

The broken birdbath

Each morning your neighbor’s engines
Shake the side of your house

On the western side the kitchen window
Opens onto exquisite sunsets

The nicer neighbors

Your son visits a little
More often since his father died
He helps you sweep
A spider from the box of coins

© 2016 David A. Welch

Hiding Place


Finely crafted evasions
of personal revelation in these

lines are more
than a dilatory strategy

it is bright fear of sudden discovery
boots gutturals door-shards

then dragged onto landing
down stairs neighbors peering

Writes poetry well he did but now
they will teach him to go out during the day

© 2016 David A. Welch

The Reader


In the delicate derangement of broken lines
I sought obscure and fleeting signs
of other eyes in the mask I wore,
some kindred loss, evasive, behind the door.

One knuckle tapping, I sound the rhymes
for vicarious confession of my crimes.
Hand traces wood, but no sliding grill
through which to pass, agreed, the token ill.

Speak easy, ghost, your guilt to shrive,
my faculties are limited, but I will strive
to breathe what sins of yours might pass
through lit enjambments, odorless, like gas.

© 2016 David A. Welch