|| Poetry by Dustin Orin Talley ||

Your world is just a black hole to me.

Somewhere in some poor African village
There is a girl whose name I cannot pronounce
She's standing,
Mouth agape
Showing me that there is nothing down her throat.
What I am not seeing
past her tonsins
Swelled to the size of golf balls
Past her taste buds
Swollen dime like and ready to taste anything
Is her stomach
Which is eating itself.
Pulled the carbs from what it could and the fat is long gone
What I would see,
Had she lifted her shirt
is tiny titties with nipples the size of pancackes,
and ribs that all but poke through skin.
What I am seeing is a site that these eyes have witnessed
when the parents got gone from each other
when they decided it was all just too much,
Three weeks behind a Waffle House and
I'll never admit to what I saw my mama do
Just to keep my stomach from eating itself.
But that was a long time ago and I'm grown now
and I have prospered.
I got a trade and get mine for every time I set foot on that jobsite.
My boy, he's got a big belly.
He never cries at night from hungry tummy
He got nothing but smiles.
And I sit here with my beer and my smoke
And I say I'm sorry little ___________?
I'm sorry that your teeth are about to eat your tongue
and I don't really care.
No, that's a lie, I do,
But I can't help you.
I got a little boy with a mouth about this big
and when that stomach fears itself it gets bigger,
and it gets loud.
So loud that I forget about Africa
and that dark world of starvation
That swallowed a part of me
that could have been so pure
As to stand with mouth agape
And feel no shame as to what the world had not granted me.

Dustin Orin Talley is a poet and novelist who lives and works in Chapel Hill North Carolina. His poetry has been published both online and in print, but his work is found easiest at Dustinorintalley.com.