Poem of the Week | March 16, 2015

This week we feature a new poem by Mark Smith. Smith is a novelist who has published some eighty poems in various magazines including most recently in New Delta, Midwestern, and New Ohio Reviews. His novel The Death of the Detective has been republished by Brash Books. Four other novels are available as e-books from Foreverland Press.
Author’s note:

During a period when the nightly news featured the several famines then in Asia and Africa, I encountered just such a young lady as is featured in the poem. I can still see her face and hear her voice—she touched me deeply.


Famine Genii


The treks, the makeshift camps


and hospitals, the ribs, the bellies,


the starving Bronze Age nomadic


child with black matchstick bones


in brilliant scarves who spends


the first of three magic wishes


granted by her genii when she wishes


for a loaf of bread, but then retracting


and wasting that wish, spends the second


on a gift too incomprehensible


for her to fathom: for once, oh,


just for once, her fill of bread.


And what delectable sensation


would that be like? her smile


asks in simple wonderment.


No third wish is made. Or needed.


And the child, so tragically


composed and beautiful, already


in her shriveled place among the pharaohs.