“Empty Plates” by Andrea K. Capere

I remember eating grass from the lawn
which blades would
be clean
or covered in dog piss.

Eating raw potatoes
with the neighbor boys
when WIC ran out


My sister and I
wove fairy tales
around our hunger
certain we could pretend our way out of it
how much water could we fill ourselves with?
a novel feeling of
waiting to burst

We smeared half-ripened berries
onto thorny leaves
smashed expired nuts
with Webster’s ninth
Our ingenuity
unmatched when hungry


It was marginally easier
for a child
to be starving
in the heat of summer
sleep becomes a welcome reprieve

I absconded with expired
buttermilk, granola,
food I never had before
I wrote my famished sins
alongside all the others
for my wealthy mother’s sister
to judge

Could it be

I was not to blame for the crime?


And when times were thick
Whole Cans of Beans
Entire Loaves of Bread
made me thick, too
transmogrifying teenage hips
from gamine to

box after box of
fried chicken
a Banquet
when the name was anything but

Slick, black garbage bags
hefty with the weight
of day-old, deep-fried
gas-station burritos
Even our appetites were censored

The shrill voice of my mother
From behind the bathroom door:
“you won’t get a boyfriend
with a body like that”
a unique frustration
of throwing up my meals
I know her money went to pay for

I am terrified
by my hunger
an abiding remnant of my roots
and the only solace
is the distraction
of a crammed-full gullet

In moments like these
I know with unearned certainty
I will never know love
in a body like this
Just as I will
never know fear
like unending hunger

I must swallow it all
the regret, shame
the fear of
never eating again.


Andrea K Capere is an emerging poet and filmmaker living in Tacoma, WA. Her poetry has been featured in the short film, Bonfire (2018) and has also appeared in Dying Dahlia Review, Trillium and The Matrix. Her poetry and prose strive to be reflective, confessional, and bold.