Dinner and Death

By Richard Wiseman

I took my dinner into the lounge,
Adjusted the cushions on the sofa,
Turned on the TV and sat down,
Resting the tray of food on my knees,

Dawn came up on a famine of biblical proportions,
I squeezed my ketchup onto my plate,
Glancing up to watch your child,
Skull faced and swollen bellied,
Resting against your obvious ribs,
The flies sticking to your eyes,
Whilst my fork dug into my chips.

The burger steamed on my plate,
The peas drowned in butter and salt,
Whilst they buried children in mass graves,
An old man reached towards me with begging gestures,
The smooth voice of journalism cracked with bitterness...

"Want some tea love?"
"Sure." I called back.
"Three sugars cos I like it sweet!"
Pot bellied and limbs like twigs,
Bent head bowed to his feet,
A baby sat in dust and cried,
I slaked my thirst on tannic tea.

"Awful isn't it?"
My mother's voice behind me.
She touched my head and ruffled my hair,
Perhaps feeling for those mothers,
Watching their children die,
Somewhere else,
Over there...

It was my mother's hand upon my head,
That transformed those pictures,
By touch of love,
Into awful feelings for the hungry and the dead.

The burger turned to dust in my mouth,
But I ate on,
Knowing my not eating wouldn't be of use.

Then Geldof moved to tears,
Motivated by the pictures on the news,
Whipped us up to make a change,
Showed us there was something we could do.

I sent my money then,
Twenty years later I still do,
But now just in case,
I no longer eat my dinner watching the news.

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