Social Justice Poetry

courage poems

No Island of Escape | A Social Justice Poem by G. Louis Heath

There is no island on the rivers, nor in
The lakes or seas, or in abstruse clouds

To escape the plagues of humankind.
All bear the black dog on their backs

As shadow nibbles mountain, plain, and
Valley to our doors. Yes, the megrims

Bite deep but we must carry on against
The plagues that beset us. The way is

Hard, strewn with mighty windfalls and
Boulders, on a high, torturous route, each

Step precarious. We hunger for the meadow,
Open to all. There we can enfold one unto

Another, build bridges of spirit and act, to
Deny the evil days of barbarous annihilation.

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

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

Donald Trump Congratulates Himself on the Crucifixion of Jesus | A Social Justice Poem by Catherine B. Krause

I got up from the bench
I was sleeping on in DuPont Circle,
cleaned up, bought new makeup and new clothes,
grew breasts, endured attacks
by conspiracies of friends and strangers,
and walked back to the circle
where there were half-naked people,
corporate sponsors, and a bigoted preacher screaming,
“You abominations should be ashamed of yourselves!”
so I lifted my shirt up and shook my new breasts
as close to his face as I could through the wall of police officers
defending his free speech instead of our right to be safe from harassment,
mocked him and heckled him, ridiculed him, laughed at his beliefs,
and then, the next day, a bigot in another city
made me want to lie back down,
but I couldn’t, because I had things to do,
people to see, and only 24 hours.