'Cocoa Beans': A Poem for Child Laborers

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Freda Denis-Cooper reads her poem "Cocoa Beans," dedicated to the children of Cote Dvoire, West Africa, to bring attention to the issue of child labor. Cooper lives in Durham, N.C. Her collection of poems is titled Stones Unturned: The Soul Poetic.

ED GORDON, host:

Now it's time for our Poet's Moment.

Ms. FREDA DENNIS COOPER (Poet): My name is Freda Dennis Cooper, and this is my poem: "Cocoa Beans."

Little chocolate hands in a vast chocolate land, a world of lovers inexcusably oblivious, can't taste baby's blood mixed in. Little chocolate hands lead to small chocolate faces, eyes filled with the hope of more than just $1 a day. Wishes of a comfy bed and enough food to stop the pangs they've come to know all too well. Industry fed by high demand and little chocolate hands, hands full of precious cocoa beans in baskets on their heads however they can. A world of lovers sinfully unaware can't taste baby's blood mixed in. The finest confections delight connoisseurs and the lay alike. Perhaps, if we all knew about those chocolate hands, there wouldn't be a need for those chocolate hands to work like they do. Five-, six-, seven-year-old hands slave to make my candy bar I can't live without. We love to taste and indulge while little chocolate hands rub little bellies that bulge from too little food they can't do without. Hypocrites are we who shed a tear, tell a friend, fast on Valentine's Day. Then, just like a predator lures its prey with a deceiving smile, take hold of little chocolate hands saying, `It's going to be all right,' and lead them to the fields for just one more harvest.

My poem "Cocoa Beans" is dedicated to the children of Cote d`Ivoire, West Africa, and those around the world who are misused as slave labor. It's important for me to be aware of the global landscape and issues that affect us as a global humanity. As an artist, I want to help audiences see beyond a person's face and feel his story. This is my contribution to the effort, exposing injustice and speaking out for the small voice.

GORDON: That was Freda Dennis Cooper reading her poem "Cocoa Beans." Her collection of poems are titled, "Stones Unturned: The Soul Poetic."

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