S2: Episode 43 - Martin

Episode Information

Hunger & Resilience – Episode 43 – Martin

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 43, Martin.

Martin:  Sometime family can make you angry sometime you gotta learn to forgive them and I love my family. I remember when I was a kid, when we lived way back out in the woods, I used to come on the porch and I could hear nothing but crickets at night. I would dance. I would sit around and dance until I would get tired and fall asleep back in them days. A child learn to help prepare for the food I’ve eaten, coon, possum, I’ve eaten alligator gar. Everybody holler about it. It ain’t no good. It ain’t no good when it get cold. You don’t supposed to let it get cold. You supposed to eat it while it’s hot. I love turnip greens and <laugh> and cornbread. They call crackling cornbread. I’ve eaten all this all my life. If I was knew, then what? My family was inspiring to me, I’ve been a better man than what I am today.

Nobody likes being in prison. <laugh>, I don’t think. No. In prison, you got to get up at this time of morning. Lights out at this time can’t go outside. I love going outside in the rain. In prison you can’t walk out in the rain. I love to come out at night and look at the stars. In prison you can’t do that. You can’t go outside and lay on the ground and look at the stars. You can’t do that. Everybody’s not going to be the same. It’s the good, the bad, the evil I’ve been the bad. If I would’ve been the evil, I’d be waiting the execution. Somebody’s got to live the bad side and somebody’s gotta live the good side. I was living the bad side. I’m afraid of myself because I know what I’m capable of doing. Bad as doing drugs, burglarizing, robbing, and thieving.

I’ve did it all my life. I’ve been making amends with myself since I got outta prison. I’m not trying to go back. I’m not lazy. I wished I could work. I worked in restaurants. I did janitor service. I worked with quarter horses. I worked with cows. When I was in prison, I worked in a packing plant where we slaughter. We slaughter sometime 290 to 300 hogs a day from from 4:30 in the morning to 11 o’clock after they got through killing. I cleaned up since I got sick on dialysis, I haven’t been able to do any kinda work at all. Not a thing.

I am poor. I don’t have nothing. When you are hungry, your mind is not capable of thinking what the way you’re supposed to think. That’s the same thing with a child. If you don’t feed a child, he’s going, if a dysfunction order, he’s going have a fit. He’s gonna act crazy. I’ve been there. Some people don’t know the realization of being hungry. You losing all faith, you losing all grip of God or anybody else. You gotta put yourself in that person’s shoes. I haven’t had nothing to eat, been able to use a food stamp card or nothing. For almost a month. I’ve had to eat stuff off the ground. Sandwiches and fruit. I used to hang around that fruit stand and wait till they close up and get the fruit that they throw it away. I don’t care what another man or female thinks about me. When you starving for something to eat, you don’t care where you get it. If it comes off the ground or what. I cannot get away from anger. When you reach out for people to help and people look at you like you’re a piece of trash, some of ’em have now the slightest idea what hungry do. Unless you’ve been poor all your life.

I’m paying for my sins as I go now. This has come from whatever I have did in life. When you start getting sick and ill, you paying for everything that you have did. I got a kidney disease, I got to be on a dialysis machine three times a week. That worries me. It’s a warning. Everybody knows warning, and it scares me more than anything in the world right now. I’ve got a dream of going home way back out in the woods. I’m just way far off in the woods. If I’m home, I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I know I’ll be fed and while I got the little time in my life that’s left, that’s where I’m going. Ain’t nothing gonna stop me from going home. Nothing in the world.

[Outro Music]

Host:  We met Martin in downtown Dallas. He was homeless living on the streets. He had just been released from prison. He speaks of his childhood home of food, of hunger, of illnesses, and again and again about his desire to make amends for any past transgressions. Martin told us, I feel invisible. Most people don’t have the slightest idea of what it’s like to experience hunger. It’s worse than you can ever imagine. Thank you, Martin, for your honesty, your voice and your presence. Next week, episode 44 and 45 will be the last episodes in season two about hunger and resilience. Season three, Fine Line, Mental Health, Mental Illness will begin the following week. These are stories that confront misconceptions and reveal the courage and fragility of those living with mental illnesses. Every person, every voice invites you to listen. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you so much for listening.