Social Justice Poetry

colonialism poems

Mickey Mouse Mitten Requiem | A Social Justice Poem by G. Louis Heath

The Mickey Mouse mitten on the arid,
Lonely rise pierces the eyes. Long search

Frustrated, requited on this savannah. I
Stand in somber requiem before the Disney

Knitwear. Mickey’s plastic face on the palm
Stares wide empty eyes over a welcome smile,

Overwrought, an unctuous bridge to a magic
Castle. The sparse remains of a child’s withered

Body lay shallow in hard, bitter soil where once
Lions thrived with pride of pride and Zulus ruled.

I burn to knit the boy back to life, feed him full,
Make Mickey ecstatic. I can only step away from

These infamous bones under an impious, gray sky
And wait for sunlight on my shuttered, blue eyes.

Rottnest Island | A Social Justice Poem by Neil Creighton

The wind blows across the dunes,
low trees and shallow lakes.
It doesn’t weep or cry aloud
but it should.
The swells roll across the sea,
curl in foam then slap on the white sand.
They have neither words nor tears
but they should.
The luxury boats bob at their moorings,
and the restaurants stare out to sea.
They do not weep or cry aloud
but they should.
Should they not weep for the 369
indigenous men and boys
perished from disease, malnourishment
or the cruel violence of guards?
Should they not weep for the 3700
indigenous men and boys
cramped in fetid cells now converted
to luxury accommodation?
Should they not weep for men
ripped from the Karri forests of the south,
or the red soil of the north
and imprisoned on this low island?
Should they not weep
for these soft eyed men
with their bleak and hollow stares
and for all the horror of humanity’s history?
But always the wind blows across the dunes
and still the waves slap on the white sand.
They have neither tears to weep nor words to lament
but surely they should.

Visit Neil at

Rottnest Island is a popular holiday resort situated 18 kilometres west of Fremantle, the port for Perth, capital of Western Australia. Daily, ferries take crowds out to the island and there is little remaining evidence of its sad history. From 1838 to 1931 Rottnest was a prison for Aborigines, taken from all over the large state of Western Australia. The airless, untoileted cells, into which seven men were cramped, were a tiny 1.7m x 3.00m. One in 10 of the prisoners died on the island and lie buried there in unmarked graves.

Discovery, 1492 | A Social Justice Poem by Daniel Klawitter

Columbus was not heroic,
Just a guy who got real lost;
Landed in the Bahamas,
And began a holocaust.

The Indians there were peaceful.
He enslaved them just the same.
And became a brutal tyrant—
The lust for gold burned in his veins.

As Governor of the Indies
For seven terrible years,
He helped to start the slave trade
And cut off people’s ears.

This genocidal maniac
Was quite uncivilized.
I wish his ships had sunk at sea
And he never had arrived.

Rock Dreaming | A Social Justice Poem by Neil Creighton

I walk past water gums,
roots twisting and flowing over rock,
past the creek’s eddy and swirl,
past deep grooves in rock
made long ago by sharpening spears.
Is that the laughter of naked children?
No. They are long gone,
now only imagination’s shadows
flitting through scrub.

I scramble up a long hill
to stand on a huge expanse of rock.
The world seems quiet and still.
All around in the stone are carvings-
kangaroos, emus, women, men, shields, spears,
a great spirit creature.
I imagine clans of Dharug people meeting here
to dance, laugh, cry, draw, worship, wonder,
and most of all, to belong.
Do I sense them?
That is a lie.
Their culture, life, laughter and song
have shrunk into the past.
They seem long gone.

I lie on the rock and close my eyes.
Underneath my back
are curving patterns in rock.
I see cloud, rain, sun’s rising, sun’s falling, moon, stars,
the diamond quilt of night.
I see people greet, paint their bodies, tell stories, dance, sing,
belong, feel purpose, feel love, draw and carve.
I am filled with loss for the changes of time,
for the tangle of history,
for the injustice of the present,
for prejudice, dislocation, theft and murder,
and I know that where they,
in such deep belonging, did roam,
my ancestors, England’s rejects,
came from the other side of the world
to claim it as their own.

The sun is low.
I begin the long walk back.
As I walk I am moved by the knowledge
that Dharug people are still living,
scattered through the land of their ancestors
and although the past cannot be changed,
its loss and sorrow should be sung.
I am taken too by the crazy dream
of a single people
meeting under these southern stars,
upon the great patterned rock of this land
to draw, dance, embrace and sing together

as I descend into a gully
and the sun disappears
and the single evening star
hangs low in the darkening sky.

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Strange Plantation Fruit | A Social Justice Poem by G. Louis Heath

In the emptiness that clouded him,
on the farm of ignorance that isolated

him, he conceived a towering idea.
He crafted it from bananas and

pineapples, a totally juicy-fruit
concoction to rock the boat of man.

More than an idea, a true ideal. Blue-
sky, pie-in-the-sky proclaimed the

robes in the castle. Do not sully the
coin of the realm with the acidic

bubbles lifting from your brain.
Pop them before your wild notions

become strange plantation fruit.