Social Justice Poetry

Merry-Go-Rounds on Main Street | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

There are Merry-Go-Rounds
on Main Street all over America.
They hide in storefronts offering
payday loans to people who can’t
borrow money anywhere else.
Their commercials air on TV.

A payday loan in my hometown has
a widowed neighbor as a customer.
Retired and poor, she takes out a loan
she can’t afford almost every week.
The interest mounts and she has
to pay it before they’ll give her

another loan to pay more bills.
That’s how the Merry-Go-Rounds work.
She has no other place to go for help
except for her children who are unaware
their mother goes to the Merry-Go-Round
because they buy things they can’t afford.

The widow says she has to buy
food and clothes for her grandchildren.
She’s been our neighbor for years but
I had no idea until she told my wife
while crying over coffee. My wife
told me we have to help this lady.

I told my wife if we help the widow
we might end up at the Merry-Go-Round
ourselves. The Merry-Go-Round, I said,
will help us the way they helped the widow.
“Not good,” she yelled and now she writes
to Congress about Merry-Go-Rounds instead.

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