Social Justice Poetry

disability poems

A Limp Others Can’t See | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

The old man
crossing the street
has a bad limp

we try to ignore.
No one wants to look
at a limp like that.

We like to think
no one else can see
the limp we have

the limp we earned
by ignoring little people
who get in our way

who strike us as
the litter of life we
want swept away.

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A Problem with Rudy | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

Rudy in his wheelchair gets around pretty good. He has a good job and transportation via a special van. He shops at local stores and
everyone is nice except at the drug store where the clerk seems to
have a problem with Rudy.

Rudy has noticed the clerk is always nice to people ahead of him in
the check-out line. Rudy may be paralyzed from the waist down but he isn’t dumb. Trying to figure out what the clerk’s problem is, Rudy has watched him carefully over several visits. He has come to the conclusion that the clerk has a problem with disabled people. That’s not an uncommon problem and it can result from various reasons. But Rudy figures that’s why the clerk treats him rudely and why he has to wait so long to be checked out.

At first, Rudy didn’t know what to do but then an idea struck one
morning while he was getting into his chair. Rudy had to go to the
drug store that day and would have to deal with the clerk again. But this time he went with a small box on his lap that had a side panel. When it was his turn finally to be checked out, Rudy opened the side panel and a small non-venomous snake slipped out of the box and curled up on Rudy’s lap.

The clerk jumped at the sight of the snake, hit the emergency button under the counter, and checked Rudy out quickly. Rudy appreciated that. And the snake never moved.

When the cops pulled up to ask Rudy about the snake, he showed them his zoo I.D. card. It showed that he worked at the city zoo as chief herpetologist. Rudy explained he was taking the snake back to the zoo after overnight observation. He said the snake had gotten out of the box while he was waiting in the check-out line. True to a point. Rudy never mentioned that he had opened the panel in the box to let the snake out to meet the clerk.

The cops called the zoo and the zoo verified the story and said a van was on the way to pick Rudy up. He was a valued employee. The cops let Rudy go.

Following this incident, Rudy has never had to wait a long time in the drug store again. The clerk is always nice, even nicer when Rudy has the box in his lap. It’s usually empty but how would the clerk know.

Some day Rudy hopes to talk to him about his problem with disabled
people. Rudy plans to tell him disabled people don’t bite.

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It Can Happen in a Second | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

Solid middle class he is
always has been
always will be

until tomorrow
on the highway
in the rain this bus

topples over
on his Dodge Durango.
He will never walk

or work again.
In six months or a year
his savings will be gone.

He will be for life
a ward of the state
and people will

forever feed
and bathe him for
the minimum wage

a sum he always said
folks like these
were worth.

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