Social Justice Poetry

Custodian to the Young | A Social Justice Poem by JD DeHart

A kid refuses to look at the book
as if reading the words might give him
late stage leprosy, while
his neighbor
unstitches a baseball to pass the time
There is a quiet competition going on
somewhere in the room involving
knuckles and quarters
They all wear faces
that are not quite
their own, smiling at the teacher
one of those put-up-with-you grins
spouting political opinions overheard
from their parents in other rooms
Statistics say at least three
of them
have suffered some abuse
maybe even this morning
before class
Children move in their own circles
trying all the doors for locks and levels
reaching out to find buttons to push
like a dashboard of dainty delights
I hate Obama, one says, I do too, another
neither knowing why, or how,
or what it really means,
and a third chimes in
Why do I have to learn to read anyway
None of this matters to me, it’s so stupid
Teacher stands with book held up, refusing
to let the pages curl up and crisp completely
reciting again the bold Jimenez quote.


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