Social Justice Poetry

The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis | A Social Justice Poem by Buff Whitman-Bradley

At the end
Of long hot summer afternoons
Parents call their children
Home for supper
And when the young ones come banging
Through screen doors
To slake their thirst
And cool down
For the evening meal
They pour themselves
Glasses of ice water

When the kids return from school
On frigid winter days
And take off their jackets
Their boots and hats, scarves and mittens
Mom sets out a few cookies on a plate
Then spoons some chocolate powder
Into a shiny cup
And adds boiling water

Water in the oatmeal
Water in the soup
Water in the orange juice
Water for boiling potatoes
Water for soaking beans
Water for poaching eggs
Water for stewing apples
Water for bathing and brushing teeth
Water in drinking fountains at the park
A glass of water the last thing
Before going to sleep at night

Water full of lead
Particularly toxic to youngsters
Water full of lead
Kept secret by the governor
Water full of lead
That killed a dozen children
Water full of lead
Causing brain damage
To countless others

In a just world
The wholesale poisoning of young children
Would be a crime against humanity
In a just world
Crocodile tears
And intricately crafted apologies
Uttered by empty suits
Would not be enough
In a just world
The governor and his henchman
Would be out of office
And behind bars

In a just world public officials
Will be decent and honorable people
In a just world
Governors and legislators will not cut taxes
For the well-off
Then allow essential services to decay
For lack of funds
In a just world
Health and safety will be human rights
Not budget line items
In a just world
Politics will not be contaminated
By the dense metals of mendacity and greed
The public good will prevail
None will be expendable
And the water we drink
Will be pure and clean

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One thought on “The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis | A Social Justice Poem by Buff Whitman-Bradley

  1. Donal Mahoney

    Finally a fine piece on a subject terribly difficult to write about. Something almost impossible to understand if reports about what happened are true and there’s no reason sadly to believe they are not. At least we can blame Zika on the mosquitoes. No politician caused it to happen.