Social Justice Poetry

Uneven Ground | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

She walked beside him
He carrying a sign
He could not read
With no education
Offered in a coal camp
Where ignorance
Was a tool
That made mining
The only alternative
In maintaining
Low wages
And poor working conditions
The explosion at Clay
Was the last straw
The company
Owning the only store
Paying in script
That never covered
The weekly
Food order
The company housing
Never tended
With thin walls
That let the cold in
But never
Kept the rats out
A company doctor
Who turned a blind eye
Never seeing
That malnutrition
Was an enemy
To the working man
Ill children
Sick all winter
But now
Fear stoked the man
Fear of weak timbers
Gas pockets
That carbide lamps
Could ignite
They walked
Slow circles
Around the entrance
Of the mine
With little hope
To win
Union protection
Just knowing
The law and time
Were not
On their sides
That thugs
And the national guard
Would come
Beating their solidarity
And their heads
Until in fear
Until in desperation
Starving families would yield
Their leaders abandoned
Jobs lost
Thrown from company housing
Denied entry
To the company store
He shared the fate
Of other organizers
Stooges betraying
Friends and family
Leaving his wife and child
With his father-in-law
Riding the rails
Only to find
An unwelcoming mine owner
Well aware
Of his union devotion
A black ball
He could not lift
Or roll away
Another victim
Crushed under the wheel
Of avarice
Owners who sang hymns
On Sunday
But left the robbed and beaten
By the roadside
On their way
To the bank

~ Your support keeps this site going.