This was my entry for the Ekphastic Review challenge inspired by this painting by Fidelio Ponce de Leon. It wasn’t chosen to be published but here it is anyway.
Dearth of humanity
There are some places in this world
Where ghosts walk daylit streets, the trackless
Famine fields and cotton fields,
Between sugar canes and potato stalks.
Human misery in shrouded white
Of rotting once-was-food now putrid blight,
Stalks the dark and comfortless night
Children’s hollow eyes the only light.
Bought and sold or simply left to rot,
Unwanted weeds in a neat suburban plot,
They haunt us still, or should if we have hearts.
The legacy of blind profit, abundant paunch
For some and padded cushioned ease until the grave,
For others bone-white lassitude and shrivelled hope,
Weary of waiting for the end,
Of dragging rattling skin from dawn to dusk.
Humanity is passion-fire not graveworm, maggot-bland,
Yet our children, grown from tender seed to budding flower,
Shrink into wind-blown dust, ground into desert sand