Social Justice Poetry

Musings in the Checkout Lane | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

We’re not the Trumps
my wife and I
but we have enough
and can’t complain
except when I shop
every month for groceries,
essentials we call them,

and spend $300 or more.
It’s in the carts near mine
that I see why others
who don’t have enough
and will never have enough
might classify much of what
I buy as unnecessary.

Not having enough resides
between appetite and need
as defined by one’s wallet.
Our need is not great and
our appetite not ravenous.
The kids are grown

and have lives of their own.
They too have enough
but enough is different
for them than for us
and different as well
for the poor who shop
in the aisles that I do.

Shopping for food
confirms that the poor
will always be with us,
but rising prices confirm
the poor will get poorer
unless something changes.

In the checkout lane
I muse about changes
that might work as the hover
of an election makes me listen
for prophets with solutions
but no prophet emerges for me
with more than a nostrum.

But the older I get
and the more carts I inspect
the more convinced I become
something must change
because in the carts are the lives
of more and more people,
old and young, for whom
promises and food stamps
aren’t the answer.
Every month I see
more and more why
poor lives matter.

Visit Donal at

~ Your support keeps this site going.