Social Justice Poetry

consequences of elections poems

November 9 | A Social Justice Poem by Leah Mond

Crestfallen, we stomped out boots over the crunchy leaves and down the steps into the subway tunnels where grieving commuters tuned out a little more than usual today

I thought I heard Mother Earth say “In some ways, she’d be just as bad anyway” as evidenced by the strange sunlight of this strange November day. “She did this too, in some kind of way…”

And I don’t like to argue with Mother Earth, but the day before I had to tell her “A flood is gonna come if I don’t make this strange sunlight go away”

So I sat down on the part of this walk that makes sense to me, where the beaten-up harbor smells like the sea. It’s where I usually go to get clarity – but that day? So scared of the blood, he took the wind right out of me.

“But you can swim and handle the wind” she whispers as the tide comes in.”

Yes, it’s true, I know how to swim. But it was others who’d sink as the tide came in.

And though I am the one who doesn’t need to sun every day
The plants, they will die if you take it away!

And, then, the sweet Mother Earth that once cradled me when I was ill
Disappeared with the wind and I was forced to be still

The clouds blocked the sun and the beams went away
And the shine on the harbor went from blue to gray

And it was 8:55 so we headed to the ship
Latinas and Muslims and LGBT folks in the mix
In shock, you’d wonder if we were indifferent to it
But the wind hit us harder than we’d like to admit

And it wasn’t until I left the embrace of the mother
That I approached the crowded boat with my sisters and brothers
Me light, them dark, we were separated at birth
As it rained on their crops and I drank from the Earth

I drank from the Earth, having no idea
The frenzy that floods cause for the people I see here

Here in the city that stole me from trees
Where I learned from others how to master the breeze

I breathed in their struggles, I stood in their trains
Until I could no longer swallow water, knowing how much they get screwed when it rains

So I am now on this boat with the gardeners and their weeds
It’s a dreary ride with an oppressive breeze
And I lock eyes with a woman, she’s darker than me
The fear. We connect. I finally see what she sees.

Promises to Hold Firm To | A Social Justice Poem by Krushna Chandra Mishra

Year after year of rains
as victims they fell
crying for shelter and succour
as they thought their woes
won’t unaddressed go
when they have already
made the hands of the party
they favoured while giving
it the throne for years
over which they thought
they had heard the words
well enough not to be confused
that their woes would go
with a rain of days that
would be flooded with
good all round that for
centuries they had not seen
under colonial rule and the rule
that has been there as
transfer of chair and chance and
words continue term to term
when elections come
and words rain and hope rains
and a future at hand calls them
to drench in the promises now
to be washed away to new destinies
with powerful floods of actions
of all sorts they stand confused
to brand those good or bad
or just shadows that whirl
and vanish over deserts
when the sun is strong
and the birds flying low
searching for perches
that are never at hand
in gloom gather strong
and in whispers call others
to rally fast and make
worlds deliver the promised
land of milk and honey.

Politics as Usual | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

Politics, too often, exists, survives in the valley of
its making, full of sound and fury signifying nothing
or little, which is fine if all the world needed was to
keep dangerous people busy with their own business,
they pose and party, form groups and apply pressure,
make speeches for the cameras in their mostly empty
chambers, vote and gloat, form committees, adjust
their thinking to keep their power, their place assured,

but, there’s always a but, when it comes to who runs
the show, there are problems all around us, ones that
get mentioned, but play out quietly in the background
in all the clamor and cluster of politics, think of all
the diseases that need to be cured, or poverty, or cities
falling apart on the evening news, the environment
and unemployment – when politics become about itself,
politicians on talk shows, politicians on junkets, on and
on, the art of the possible becomes impossible to take.

Inauguration | A Social Justice Poem by Victor Fein

Inauguration Day 2009

Forty seven people crowd into a small open-air restaurant in a Central American village.
A wall-mounted television allows us to watch Barack Obama become America’s president.
The air is thick with excitement, anticipation.
People from around the globe gather in the tiny village to witness this historic event.

Prior to Obama’s speech outgoing president Bush is shown
waving good-by with an air of embarrassment. Hisses and boos create the melody of sound in the room as he boards a plane to depart.
Next Dick Cheney, aptly dressed in black from head to toe depicts his well-deserved Darth Vader image.
A black brimmed hat shadows his face.
He sits slightly slumped in a wheelchair while he is rolled from view.
Hisses, boos louder even than Bush’s accompany his retreat.
Obama becomes the focus as he, his wife, and two girls approach the stage.
Cheers break out across the room. People unknown to one another a short time before turning to one another sharing hugs.
Tears flow in anticipation and hope for the
years to come. Openly expressed prayers are spoken.
Obama’s words create a hopeful spirit of a global harmony, of
environmental consciousness, for racial equanimity, gay rights, women’s rights, peaceful world engagement.
His demeanor calm, his speech slow and deliberate.
The crowd dissipates after his elocution. So much hope, so much relief.

Inauguration Day 2017

Eight years have passed. I return to the same small restaurant in Central America.
Six senior citizens, all Americans, sit watching Trump take the stage. There is a hollow feel in the room.
Prior to his speech cameras turn to outgoing president Obama and his family sitting together staying on to observe the event.
They do not depart, no one is wearing black.
They appropriately remain sitting without shame for their time in leading America through the difficulty of healing many deep wounds Bush and Cheney left: a crushed economy,
the destruction associated with no weapons of mass destruction, corruption, environmental depletion.
I stand observing the reaction of the six seniors as Trump
hypes his goals. Kill Obamacare, reverse gay rights, take away some women’s rights, ban Muslim’s from entering America, build a wall
separating us from Mexico and have them pay for it,
environmental destruction, deport immigrants among other harmful intentions.
One woman supporter raises her arm, fist closed and cheers.
The other five sit quietly.
The room feels hollow as Trump’s voice echoes off the empty walls.

The Ghosts on Our Backs | A Social Justice Poem by Jonathan Otamere Endurance

There are ghosts holding on to our backs,
Stalking our feet with the traces of bleeding memories,
Unmaking laughter out of the jaws that yelled
For “Change” the day
We tucked a lesser evil into our hearts.
Father said they are emblems of unfulfilled promises
Eating our remains
Like vultures preying on fresh delicacy.
Mother whispered sweet tidings into our ears –
When you see a ghost in your dream,
Peel off the flesh of your back,
Stab your feet on the eyes of its shadow
For it wouldn’t come haunting you again;
These ghosts are totems of unpaid promises.

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