Social Justice Poetry

Social Justice Poetry

Mac | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

His orange Studebaker
Pulled up
To our house
Mac, my father’s friend
Struggled to get out
Gripping the steering wheel
Pulling his thin body
To the running board
His body twisted right
Broken beyond repair
In a mining accident
His left side
Ratcheted forward
His steps labored
He took the hose
From the coil
On the ground
Placing it
In the fifty-gallon barrel
One of six
In the bed
Of the truck
His well
Without a bottom
Blown out
By the explosions
In the nearby strip mines
I stood by Mac
Holding the grass sack
Full of Purex
Bleach bottles
Jugs I had gathered
At the dump
Jugs he would pay
A nickel for
Jugs he would fill
With the moonshine
He made on the hill
Behind his house
Mac always came
With gumdrops
With chocolate drops
With licorice
He bartered for the water
Mother was not happy
But Dad knew
Without the liquor sales
Mac would starve
They caught Mac
Destroyed his still
Locked him up
Five years
The judge lecturing Mac
For his sin
Of selling whiskey
In a dry county
And at the end
Of his work day
The judge
Had a highball
With friends
At the VFW
Rules are for poor people
Like Mac
The rich
Find their exceptions
The space
Between the laws

Song of America | A Social Justice Poem by Gil Hoy

I.

I see you, Walt Whitman, an American
Rough, a cosmos! I see you face to face!

I see you and the nameless faceless
Faces in America’s ageless crowds of men
and women who you saw in your mind’s eye.

I see you crossing the river on your ferry.
I see you walking down America’s public roads

Where everyone is worthy. Neither time,
Place nor distance separates.

II.

For you once saw the corrupt currents,
Fast flowing into the land that you loved.
And you once saw that which had departed

With the setting sun, half an hour high,
For when another is degraded,
so are you and I.

You once saw what had flowed in with the
Rising flood-tides feverishly pounding,

Sea water soaked—saturated,
With exploitation, bribery,
Falsehood and maladministration.

III.

When you saw the motionless wings of
Twelfth-month sea-gulls, when you walked

On Manhattan Island, when you watched the
Great ships of Manhattan, north and west—

Did you see Wall Street banks seizing
Homes of your beloved countrymen,
Crossing in their fragile ferryboats?

The carpenters, the Quakers, the scientists,
The opium eaters—the immigrants, the squaws,

The boatmen, the blacksmiths—-the farmers,
Mechanics, the sailors and priests?

IV.

Did you see monstrous megaton
Corporations feasting on America’s flesh and
Blood, nameless faceless parasites sucking the

Marrow from the bones of your beloved land,
Like a malevolent disease?

V.

For you saw very clearly the political and economic
Malfunctioning mutant ties that connect us.
Neither time, place nor distance separates.

And you saw very clearly the sickly green sludge
Secreted by lobbyists to their bought and sold

Henchmen soldier baby-kissers—slowing,
Stopping the flow of nourishing rushing sea
Tides into your revered democracy.

VI.

You saw dark evil patches—the clinging selfish
Sinister grasp of the flourishing one per cent
Oligarchs, who lusted, grubbed, lied, stole—

Were greedy, shallow, sly, angry, vain, cowardly,
malignant—Seeking only to hold on to their
Spoils and preserve the status quo.

VII.

Each still furnishes its part towards the death of
America’s democracy. Each still furnishes its part

Towards destroying her soul. The mocking bird still
Chants his tearful musical shuttle to the barefooted

Bareheaded boy, and the final word superior for
America may still be her Death, Death, Death,

Death. And you, lonely father, graybeard more
Beloved—the generous sea, she’s whisper’d me, too.

The Resistance Will Not Be Livestreamed | A Social Justice Poem by Joshua Factor

You will not be able to remain ambivalent, brother.
You will not be able to drop in, egg on or cop out.
You will not be able to lose sight of who you are and
Sneak out for a bite or two between buffering sessions
Because the resistance will not be livestreamed.

The resistance will not be brought to you by Nordstrom
In 17 parts with limited commercial interference.
The resistance will not show you pictures of an orangutan
Banging on cymbals and leading the charge for equality alongside
A Keebler elf, a general with nowhere left to go and a man with his
Head so far up his rear end, he tries to put people in jail just for being themselves
While they sit in the throne room eating cronuts confiscated from homeless shelters and orphanages.
The resistance will not be livestreamed.

The resistance will not be brought to you by the Dolby theatre
And will not star Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin or Archer and the last man on earth.
The resistance will not give you sex appeal, although it will make you a decent human being.
The resistance will not get rid of all the scum, but it will vanquish most of it.
The resistance will not make you lose weight but it will result in us getting rid of 250 pounds of useless lard.
The resistance will not be livestreamed, sister.

There will be no pictures of you and A-Rod hitting the last homer in a game that’s long since been won
Or trying to slide a hideously disfigured portrait into a stolen limo.
Fox will no longer be able to go around spreading their lies and deceit
Across 78 separate districts.
The resistance will not be livestreamed.

There will be no depictions of how pigs were
Able to get from the sty to the white house.
There will be no depictions of John Lewis hiding
In some back alley from a world that seeks to lift him up.
There will be no abstracts or pointillism of Cornell William Brooks
Sauntering through Charlottesville in a red, white and blue blazer
That he had been saving for a more optimistic occasion.

The Fosters, Blackish and Superior Donuts will no longer be
So damn relevant, and women will not care if Booth finally
Gets down with Brennan on Bones because African Americans
Will once again take to the streets in search of a brighter tomorrow.
The resistance will not be livestreamed.

There will be no recaps on the antiquated boob tube
And no pictures of up-in-arms feminists and Michelle Obama
Speaking out about everything wrong with our society.
The theme song will not be written by Alan Menken
Or Katharine Lee Bates, nor sung by Conway Twitty,
Frank Sinatra Jr., Bob Dylan or Adele, or Led Zeppelin.
The resistance will not be livestreamed.

The resistance will not be right back after some YouTube advertisements
That people always skip if they can about the latest show or movie coming
Out on Netflix or how you can save hundreds by using Groupons.
You will not have to worry about a killer clown stalking you at night
Or being discriminated against due to forces beyond your control.
The resistance will not be better if you leggo of someone’s Eggo.
The resistance will not enable you to get your hands on some Doritos.
The resistance will place you squarely in the cockpit, and leave it up to you to fire the first shot.

The resistance will not make itself scarce on anyone’s account.
The resistance will not build walls but, rather, tear them down.
The resistance will not be livestreamed, will not be livestreamed.
Will not be livestreamed. The resistance will not be syndicated,
My brothers and sisters, and there will be no reruns because
The resistance will be live.

December 1954 | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

The wind penetrated my jacket
I hunched my back
Exposing as little
As I could
To the elements
The road was muddy
The gravel spun away
By the numerous cars
That travelled my street
I had no gloves
How ironic
That the cold
Burned my hands
Like scalding water
The mile
To Broadway school
Would be cold
The mist
Like smoke
Escaped with every breath
I watched my feet
Avoiding the puddles
Hopscotching my way
Up the road
We didn’t talk much
It was
As if the weather
Had frozen words
In our mouths
I longed
For a heavier coat
Cap and gloves
Like others had
But they
Were on the list
Of things
We couldn’t afford
A ride
Would be nice
But others
Their heads bowed
Walked with us
Across the tracks
The tracks
That separated the poor
From others
Whose parents
Owned cars
Children with parkas
Warm mittens
Oatmeal
In their stomaches
Often envy
Made me ashamed
Of where and how
I lived
But I told no one
For fear
It would find
Its way
To my mother’s ears
Adding guilt
To the burden
She already carried

Memories | A Social Justice Poem by Gil Hoy

Their homes, cone-shaped wooden
poles covered with buffalo hides.
Set up to break down quickly
to move to a safer place.

She sits inside of one of them,
adorning her dresses, her family’s
shirts, with beads and quills.
Watches over her children, skins
cuts and cooks the buffalo meat, pounds
clothes clean with smooth wet river rocks.

When she sees the blue cavalry coming,
she starts to run again.
Is that what made America great,
back then?

African families working hard
on hot cotton farms. Sunrise to sunset,
six days a week. Monotony broken only
by their daily beatings, by their singing
of sad soulful songs. Like factories in fields,
dependent solely upon the demands
of cotton and cloth.

You could buy a man for a song, back then.
Is that what made America great,
once again?

There are swastikas in our schools today,
gay pride flags being burned. Whitelash.
While those in government spew anti-Muslim
venom, rant of white power.
As the old new man at the top
solemnly swears, he’ll make America
great again.

They say the full moon was bigger and brighter
last year than it’s been in 69 years.
Than it’s been since Jackie Robinson
played his first big league baseball game.