smoky mountains



Out at the break of dawn

alone, to fend for himself

Scavenging from putrid

Garbage, deprived of milk


Under the scorching sun he wanders

from place to place, and wonders

When his first meal will be.

Yesterday wasn’t too good


Today he will break the stones,

carry the bricks and select

the nails. He will fetch

water for the builders.

they would surely pick him;

he is the first on the line



With an empty stomach,

he searches through the dump

for metals.He climbs the mountain

of heaped garbage determined

To make ends meet


Occasionally, he is lucky to

find in the decaying mound a moldy

bread and with fingers scrape

some jam from discarded cans


What is he thinking?

How does he feel?

Of childhood lost…


Stunted for life, scars left

from the daily labors

immature hands and feet

hardened, toughened, and baked

by tasks too painful


Leaders with hands as soft

as a baby’s, feet pedicured

to perfection never knowing

a day’s labor; wine and dine

to their heart’s content


The child goes to bed hungry

turned adult overnight; he

awakes daily to mine, toil,

Scavenge and is thankful

if he goes home with a handful


What goes on in his beautiful

Mind? what three wishes asks a genie?


He would wish for a childhood

Filled with laughter, hot milk and food

with candies, chocolates and stories

Fairy tales, warm beds and teddies


He would wish for books

And pencils, colors and paints

He would wish for freedom to be

What he truly is…just a child.

© Amaka Paul 2016