Social Justice Poetry

How to Be a Pompous Rich Person | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

How to be a pompous rich person:
Be at the right place
At the right time,
Then pretend your success
Is due to your
Exceptional clairvoyance,
Superior specialness,
Rare ability to
Toil harder than
The person washing your dishes
In the tony restaurants you frequent.
Also, look down
On human beings who haven’t
Had the same luck as you,
Say stuff about how they
Aren’t driven, and believe it,
After all, your
Flimsy self-worth and
Brittle facade
Depend on it.

Rottnest Island | A Social Justice Poem by Neil Creighton

The wind blows across the dunes,
low trees and shallow lakes.
It doesn’t weep or cry aloud
but it should.
The swells roll across the sea,
curl in foam then slap on the white sand.
They have neither words nor tears
but they should.
The luxury boats bob at their moorings,
and the restaurants stare out to sea.
They do not weep or cry aloud
but they should.
Should they not weep for the 369
indigenous men and boys
perished from disease, malnourishment
or the cruel violence of guards?
Should they not weep for the 3700
indigenous men and boys
cramped in fetid cells now converted
to luxury accommodation?
Should they not weep for men
ripped from the Karri forests of the south,
or the red soil of the north
and imprisoned on this low island?
Should they not weep
for these soft eyed men
with their bleak and hollow stares
and for all the horror of humanity’s history?
But always the wind blows across the dunes
and still the waves slap on the white sand.
They have neither tears to weep nor words to lament
but surely they should.

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Rottnest Island is a popular holiday resort situated 18 kilometres west of Fremantle, the port for Perth, capital of Western Australia. Daily, ferries take crowds out to the island and there is little remaining evidence of its sad history. From 1838 to 1931 Rottnest was a prison for Aborigines, taken from all over the large state of Western Australia. The airless, untoileted cells, into which seven men were cramped, were a tiny 1.7m x 3.00m. One in 10 of the prisoners died on the island and lie buried there in unmarked graves.

American Pastoral: Barn with Flag on a Rural Road in Virginia | A Social Justice Poem by Linda Kennedy

For months the same: weathered gray, all of its doors flung open—
a shelter announcing a pregnant vacancy, a standing invitation
to passers-by. Today, driving towards it, it poses anew,
sits atop its own shadow. All doors are shut, can’t be jimmied.
Crows gather, attempt to blanket the whitewash climbing
the barn’s face. Braking, I roll down the window.
A Rebel flag agitates atop a pole jacked up in redneck myth,
white Klan, and blue Southern bloodlines, blusters propaganda.
I look away from colors which never cease bleeding
through from the past. Time to drive past this indenture.
The flag curls its lip, cracks and snaps at my back. My flesh shivers.

A Bit of News Not Fake | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

An article in the paper reports
something one doesn’t see
happen in America very often.

Eighty billionaires, millionaires
and others close to that level
in New York have written to

their lawmakers and governor
asking to have their taxes raised.
They want to support schools,

build roads and bridges, and help
the poor and the homeless.
The president of the United States

is a resident of New York.
Eighty names on the list so far.
At press time his was missing.

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