This table, set with centerpiece,
fine china, silverware -
has food prepared deliciously
with tender loving care.
With hungry eye, I relish this -
this meal, my daily bread -
then fold my hands and bow my head
before my prayer is said.
I do recite it quick and slurred,
though with the best intent -
and now that grace is said and heard,
it is a blessed event.
The phrases I was taught to say
were pressed down deep in me -
but words are empty without thoughts
of pure sincerity.
Yes, just before I eat, I pray,
but there's a place so crude
which moves me closer to the truth -
that others have no food.
It haunts me as I look around, the
visions of the starved -
who wide-eyed blankly stare at me
behind my turkey, carved.
I see their bloated tummies and
the flies around their eyes.
I hear soft moans from babies lips,
and echoes of their cries.
I taste the mush that they call food.
It lingers on my breath.
I feel the tears start down my cheeks.
I smell the stench of death.
I hesitate with my first bite,
then ask myself, "Do I
really care they're teary eyed
and hungry 'til they die?"
I pray that all the "least of these"
are eating well in Heav'n.
Please help me Lord, to understand
the blessings I was giv'n.
So now when I recite my prayer,
as I sit down to feast,
I ask myself if I'm sincere
and thankful in the least.
For that's when I can hear my voice
ascending to His ear.
He knows if I speak empty words
or if I am sincere.
This poem won first place for the October 2012 poetry contest