When he saw pictures of starving children his heart heaved in a slough of despond.
His dreams became Bosch-like images whirling around a flaming satanic tail.
All his money went into the pushka. He fasted one day a week, became a strict vegan
and volunteered to feed the hungry.

In Africa, he viewed the bare trees and drought-stricken dunes barren as a moonscape
of cosmic dust. He realized no torture designed by the Grand Inquisitor or interrogators
at Guantanamo could match the excruciatingly slow, lonely torment of starving to death.

Blown about by Sirocco driven winds, he watched starving refugees roam parched deserts.
They no longer knew where they were going, wandering aimlessly under
an unforgiving blazing sun. Buzzing flies fed on stunted toddlers’ oozing sores,
their protruding ribs all bone and gristle, a dim echo of forgotten hunger pangs
filled the air.

They trudged along listening to the silence of nobody cares. The pot-bellied children
with matchstick-thin fingers forgot they were children, unable to laugh or play.
They gave up waiting for food under a jaundiced moon, a sky no longer blue.
No amount of frankincense and myrrh could quell the stench of rotting carcasses.
Scavenging raptors circled overhead eager for a feed.

Their lackluster eyes shed all their tears, marasmic wastrels mired in stillness
became stationary ghosts that no one wanted to see, gnawing the dry sands of barren deserts.
One billion mouths strewn about woke up and went to sleep hungry.
The unspeakable negligence of: The infinite task of the human heart.

Under flapping buzzards dumpster-divers in the smoldering garbage of Rio searched for charred remains of
rancid bones. The happy majority in a state of culinary rapture lit up Macanudo cigars, relishing a smoke
with an after-dinner cognac at The Inn at Little Washington, after feasting on truffle-dusted divers’
scallops harvested the same day off the coast of Maine.

Who can look the other way when their bellies are full, knowing so many others endure the grinding pain of
hunger? Victims of famine with empty lunch pails can only dream
of swaying palm trees raining dromedary dates, wheelbarrows full of pink pomegranates
and figs falling from trees, laying down a carpet that will lead them back to the Garden of Eden.

Milton P. Ehrlich