Social Justice Poetry

They’re Painting the Local Housing Estate | A Social Justice Poem by Jo-Ella Sarich

They’re painting the housing estate on our street
scaffolding is up like match sticks waiting to burn
people call this area the Bronx – I don’t know why
About time they got around to this, my husband says as we pass by
I suspect it’ll be up for months to come.

The court decision came out today,
it don’t bode well for Mrs. May
hurry, run and get your washing in
‘cos it’s about to rain.

They’re painting the housing estate on our street,
grey scaffolding like the withered limbs of trees
diminishing in the Autumn breeze
they haven’t seen a drop of paint yet,
parched throats yawning at the heavy sky.

I hear they use bamboo on
the dizzying skyscapers in Hong Kong
they say that it’s much lighter
than iron, and just as strong.

Meanwhile, on our humble street,

The scaffolding still stands like sentries
across the rows of spartan serfs
blank-facing with Euclidean ease
my footsteps echo on the earth,
toys blowing like litter in the breeze.

My husband reminds me they elected the Nazis
and the peasantry wrought out the Ustaše
I always thought we had we had the rule of law to thank
for saving us from our worst excesses.
But maybe all this caustic window dressing
is headed for the winter’s bite
hate frozen-marching up its alleys,
hearths dwindling in the dead of night.

I fear the facade of the ugly idea
as much as the idea itself
or maybe it’s not the idea I fear
but the degraded collective consciousness.


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