Social Justice Poetry

A Life without Guard Rails | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

You think you got problems?
You probably do but would
you trade with Phillip,
a Vietnam vet who still thinks
Agent Orange lurks in
every puddle he steps
around after a heavy rain,
who shovels snow,
cuts lawns and rakes leaves
to make his disability
check go further?

He has a snow shovel
but someone stole his mower
and the grass is growing
and customers are waiting.
He saved three months
to buy a used car to replace
the van that died and that car
died yesterday in the street but
the payments are still due.

Some people think Phillip
causes his own problems
but no one has the answer
as to how he can change
a life that hasn’t changed
much since Vietnam.

It took ten years
to qualify for disability.
He’s been doing odd jobs
and he’ll keep doing them
until he can no longer walk.
He says a Veterans Home
has promised to take him in.

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