Skip to main content

Hunger Is Not a Game ~ but It Can Be Poetry

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.



Hunger: A Potent Need



a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by a lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.

"She was faint with hunger"


have a strong desire or craving for.

"He hungered for a sense of self-worth"

(Source: Oxford Dictionary)

Food and water are necessities to keep us all alive, so it is evident that hunger and thirst would be two of the most potent feelings/needs our bodies can experience, and therefore be the hardest to control or suppress. Both words can be used to express many different feelings or desires e.g. He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge; She had a burning hunger within her to be with him forever.

I wrote these poems in response to Brenda Arledge's Word Prompts Help Creativity: Week 56. I think 'Hunger" is a terrific word to use as a prompt to inspire poetry or short fiction and look forward to reading the other responses as well.

I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Boat on choppy sea: Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Boat on choppy sea: Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

The Hunger

The hunger overcomes me,

My stomach churns and groans.

Controlling it’s impossible,

I can’t suppress my moans.

Ten days in the ocean,

On a dinghy leaking brine.

Dehydrated and malnourished,

But to sharks, I’d taste just fine.

Let’s pray I’ll soon be rescued,

And to my family can return.

This hunger spreads within me,

And I feel my body burn.

I must eat soon or perish,

Two friends have starved and died.

I couldn’t bear to see their pain,

Or hear their anguished cries.

I push the bodies overboard,

A cannibal I’m not.

But it may distract the sharks awhile,

I’ll need all the time I’ve got.

Thirst and hunger take control

If you have no food or drink.

All you want is to survive,

But you cannot even think.

As fever courses through me,

And delirium sets in,

I consider jumping overboard,

Then it’s a case of sink or swim.

Finally, I sight a ship,

It’s looming close and large.

I feel some hope I may be saved-

Or is it a mirage?

A hungry man can’t see right or wrong. He just sees food.

— Pearl S. Buck

I awaken three days later,

Under a nurse’s care.

I am asked to tell my story,

But just return a vacant stare.

I can’t remember anything

Of my time marooned at sea,

Or any of the other crew

Who shared the boat with me.

The police will question further,

Searching for the facts.

But my amnesia frustrates them,

And the answers that I lack.

I don’t have hunger anymore,

And survived the sad ordeal.

But, to me, it’s like a fiction book,

It all seems so surreal.

Missing you: Memorial cross

Missing you: Memorial cross

I Hunger For You

I hunger just to hear your voice,

Or feel once more your touch.

Since you’ve been gone I’m lonely,

And miss you oh so much.

I hunger for your laughter,

The tears you shed when sad.

I even miss your anger

At times when you were mad.

I hunger for your corny jokes,

And to get your wise advice.

To make decisions on my own

I have to question twice.

I hunger for your doing things

To just make me feel good.

I miss our times spent hiking

Or camping in the woods.

I hunger to sit at home with you,

When we’re doing no damn thing,

Or at the karaoke bar,

When we both tried to sing.

I hunger for your hand in mine

As we strolled down the lane.

I hunger for your presence,

And wish you were here again.

I hunger for your company,

Every time I feel alone.

I wish that I could call you -

But, does Heaven have a phone?

* I dedicate this poem to Brenda and Ron (and anyone else who is missing a loved one)

Close to a billion people – one-eighth of the world’s population – still live in hunger. Each year 2 million children die through malnutrition. This is happening at a time when doctors in Britain are warning of the spread of obesity. We are eating too much while others starve.

— Jonathan Sacks, Jewish scholar

I'm Hungry!

“I’m hungry!” said my youngest son,

Not suppressing a big sigh.

“Hello, Hungry. I am John,”

I said in a curt reply.

“That’s not funny!” he said sulking,

“I need to eat, right now!”

“Okay, you just sit and wait,

While I go and kill a cow.”

“Dad you are annoying.

Why do you make dumb jokes?”

“What do you mean my jokes are dumb?

They’re funny to most folks.”

“Why can’t you just feed me?

It isn’t all that hard.”

“Okay, I’ll get right on it,

But first I’ll mow the yard.”

“Dad!” he yells frustrated,

“I’ll just go feed myself!”

“Well, you know where the food is kept-

It’s on the pantry shelf.”

Hungry is a funny kid,

He acts like he’s the boss.

He thinks of food before all else,

And must eat at any cost.

If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger.

— Buzz Aldrin

Hungry children

Hungry children

© 2022 John Hansen

Related Articles