Social Justice Poetry

Daniel Klawitter

Comrades | A Social Justice Poem by Daniel Klawitter

For all the dreams of dark-skinned men,
women and children,
scorched and stumbling on blistered feet.

For the nameless and numbered,
who were butchered like meat
with the sky growling thunder
and whose napalmed screams were silenced.

I offer you this hymn.

For the guns of defiance
and lips that curse…
for the peasants who barefoot
walk proud on the earth.

Hacked by machetes
and consumed in fire
or hung from trees
like electric wires of resistance!

I offer you this humble hymn.

Though death be persistent,
one truth stays consistent in this song of our lament:

we may be cut down,
but we will always return,
like weeds through the cement.

(Originally published in The People’s Tribune, June, 2008)
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The Promotion | A Social Justice Poem by Daniel Klawitter

Well now,
how does it feel
to be the big boss?

Did you even pause to ponder
what this promotion might cost?

It grieves me to see
the respect that you’ve lost —

With you newfound swagger
the underlings are speaking daggers
behind your back.

Everyone was so hopeful at first
that you would escape the ancient curse
of Power.

But in this futile hour
our fears have turned to fate…
and now it is too late
to save you from yourself

as you create an army of compliant machines
to replace the defiant ones
who still dream dreams
of something more organic.

But now, with robotic precision
the idiotic decisions of bureaucracy
come down in a panic
to do everything

not better…but FASTER.

We used to call you comrade…
But now, we call you


(Originally published in Blue Collar Review).
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What I Said to My Boss in My Head | A Social Justice Poem by Daniel Klawitter

“The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus labour is pumped out of direct producers, determines the relationship of rulers and ruled.” –Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 3

I had a boss once, who among other things, told me:
“I don’t want you working on your poetry during company time.”
My caboose was to be confined to the chair in my office.
I was to ignore any visitation of sudden, non-work-related inspiration.

Short walks were permissible but not short poems.
I promised him efficiency and a brutal suppression of my art.
But in my head (and my proletarian heart) I told him:
“I will do my job and I will do my duty—
But you cannot take my surplus beauty.”

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.

White Fragility with #BlackLivesMatter | A Social Justice Poem by Daniel Klawitter

Maybe reading into a slogan
Your own exclusion
Is a way to avoid
A real reckoning?
To deflect with semantics
The black & white
Sheets of statistics
And lived experience,
All the while saying:
“Me too! Me too!
All Lives Matter!”
Well, of course they do.
And some, apparently,
Matter much more
Than others.
There is a difference
Between affirmation,
Negation & erasure.
I can’t help but wonder:
If you were as aware
Of institutional racism
As you are with grammar
And linguistic aggravation,
Well, maybe… just maybe…
We wouldn’t need to be having
This conversation
Over and over again.