Social Justice Poetry

No COLA Raise Next Year | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

No question the refugees in Europe
have it bad as do the garment workers
in Bangladesh as do the migrants

herded to America for a fee
and dumped at night to find their way
through brush beneath the lights

the border patrol has whirling.
Millie and Tillie are ancient sisters
who live in Iowa and worry about

those less fortunate on the news
every night before they turn in.
The sisters never married, live on

what they call fixed income in a
farm house Mom and Pop left them.
They worked in town for years

at dime stores, have no pensions,
live on a little social security,
expect no COLA raise next year.

They use cash or money orders
to pay small bills, have no credit
because they never needed it

and keep their savings in a sock
to buy necessities when things get
tough at the end of the month.

But they get by with a garden
and can their pole beans and tomatoes
and get their Pepsodent and Charmin

from the pantry at church.
They were doing okay until last week
when the old water heater quit

and they had to call a plumber.
First time for everything, Millie said,
and now the sisters don’t know where

they’ll get two grand to have
the plumber take the old heater away
and special order one that will fit.

He’s new in town and always in a hurry.
But Tillie says they have two kettles
in the basement and the stove works

so she’s certain they’ll get by.
After all, Mom and Pop always did even
when a hurricane snatched the harvest.

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