Social Justice Poetry

Social Justice Poetry

A New Depression Photo for Walker Evans | A Social Justice Poem by Jeff Burt

In abandoned factories gather abandoned people
who no longer do anything with abandon.

The massive conveyor system of steady employment
has broken, the machinery of work has ground

to a halt, the rope unravels that leads to hope.
Wealth begets wealth. Like hand-me-downs, only poverty

gets redistributed among the poor.
See? A rich person is unlike any other, distinguishable,

but a poor person is like all others, extinguishable.
The large man in the photo crouching

in the dimly lit corner, he could be a couch-surfing teen,
an orphan, or turned another way, a single mom.

No Longer Silent | A Social Justice Poem by Peggy Turnbull

We converge in a large room
to honor literature
and those who write it.

Most of us are white.
Most of us are women.
Most of us wear glasses.

Margaret Atwood reminds us
that if today’s government
were truly theocratic
most of us would be at home tonight.

We would not read novels.
We would not read,
would not have been taught

Looking at each other,
women of many sizes
and ages, we realize
that here is a rebellion
that suits us. To read
is to resist patriarchy.
And to write, even more so.

In this gathering,
I take the silent vow
of the insurgent:
to never again
feel shame about splashing
my life and thoughts upon the page,
to push past the boundaries
I find that shut off subjects
or voices from me.
I will resist the desire
to stay safe behind them.

Remember the young men,
painfully thin, despised,
purple lesions a pink triangle
of perceived transgression,
how they wrote poems
about their short lives
and left voices that still speak?

From now on, that is me.
Brave in intimacy with pen
and screen. Fearless
about what others think
of me. Ready to spit,
to surge, to erupt
with words.

Visit Peggy at

Should the Subaltern Speak… | A Social Justice Poem by Krushna Chandra Mishra

On seeing them speaking
after years looking askance at them
and thinking they could for eternity make
bread out of lies made of the best yarns
culled from garments they were never
given to wear; they saw clad
and speaking in demanding tones
those very people whose custodians
they had become, and sensing fear
from those multitudes whom they
bullied and misrepresented for long;
now in search of new rhetoric,
these vultures and jackals are out
to find unity they now find lost
in misleading the world and
now having nowhere to
be safely led into for ease
of business and of living.

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

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.
We chose to disobey.
They took us singing
They took us shouting
At our tallest
In the eyes of the world.

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.

New York, NY