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Excavating a Poem: “When Hungry”

By January 16, 2014February 24th, 2018One Comment

I found a poem the other day—or rather, excavated it!

I’d been contacted by Joanne Fedler, a writer from Australia, and we were exchanging emails about our work, and I visited her website. On a page about her book When Hungry, Eat, she shared “An Eating Meditation or Spiritual Principles for Losing Weight, Leaving Home or Letting Go.” (You can check it out at this link, if you’d like.)

As I read Joanne’s list of 10 principles, I thought I saw a poem hidden in her words. I began to play, carving away the “excess” to find the core. This is what I came up with after 15-20 minutes and ended up sending to Joanne. It was fun.

The finished poem is about more than it seems. See what you think:


when hungry

let need
guide you

always ask
no assumptions


thank the food
sacrifices others made

you can
practice gratitude for whatever
is before

there is enough
have faith
there will be more

savour the taste
every bite
like breath

how is it
how it is

slow down
space between mouthfuls
hunger between meals

your body knows what to do
give it time

what is not needed
must go

come back
begin again

let how you do anything
be how you do everything


Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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