Social Justice Poetry

Jail Poem | A Social Justice Poem by Martin A. David

I
I saw flowers
In a cellar under the park
Sunlight poured through solid brick
As I sat with the cowards.
Fifty cowards who
Armed with courage
Faced the thousands.
Lines of armies
Lines of death
Marching through my city.

“Stop them!” we shouted.

They took us shouting
In our pride
At our tallest
And dragged us under the park.

We sang in the dark
And stood taller
And read poetry
And Frank read the Bible out loud
And we talked to the cops
About peace
And about soldiers in our streets
And thought about the thousands
Who were only following orders.
Following orders.
Orders.
We chose to disobey.
They took us singing
They took us shouting
At our tallest
In the eyes of the world.

II
After a while
The singing makes the steel bend
And the cell expand.
We can see Chinatown
Through the bars
And a patch of sky
That blushes red
And fades
As a long day
Turns into night.

The soldiers
Ignoring Springtime
March across our city
Death on proud display
While somewhere else
The Spring
Is napalm-burnt away.

We challenge
Tramplers of flowers
We challenge soldiers
Who trample Springtime
And bodies
And life.
We challenge death.

1965
New York, NY


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