Sangha Expressions: Poem by Ming-Kai Franklin Chen

By Ming-Kai Franklin Chen, excerpted from the December 2017 ZRS newsletter

***Here is the poem I wrote inspired by a story told at a concert/storytelling with a theme of “Homeless Connection.” The story told the chilling fact that many homeless people do not have resources to take care of their teeth to be able to bite the apple.


The Apple in the Lunch Bag

Although my heart is filled with gratitude for receiving a lunch bag,
I have to give up the apple, the healthy choice; but eat the rest: bread, hot dogs, and cookies.
For I have lost my teeth sometime ago, and Simply, I do not have strong teeth to bite the apple.

People ask, why don’t I take care of my teeth?
I say I am wandering on the street all day,
At night, if I am lucky and find a shelter,
I can only have few minutes to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth.
I cannot afford to buy an ultrasonic toothbrush, besides,
even if I had one, where do I find the electrical outlet?

Have you seen dentists? People asked.
I say no. Why see the dentists? What are the points?
Every treatment costs me hundreds, sometimes, thousands of the dollars?
I cannot even find the next meal,
how can I afford for dentists’ cares?

I thank good-heart people to give me food,
But please give me orange, or banana.
For, I simply do not have teeth to bite the apple.