Social Justice Poetry

genocide poems

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.

A Man in Dachau | A Social Justice Poem by Neil Creighton

In a dream I saw a man in Dachau
give his last morsel of bread
to one he thought was suffering more.
I heard his thoughts.
“I am no mere plaything of circumstance.
They can take my life but not
the freedom to choose my way.”

I rushed to tell my friends
that choice determines who we are,
proof sufficient being in Dachau
a man chose compassion over self.

One friend replied:
“Noble indeed is such a one.
Heroes make these choices.
The exception though is not the rule.
Choice is circumscribed by circumstance
and eliminated for most by horror of place.”

Another then spoke:
“Oppression’s boot can find the weight
To crush all choice away.
Was that man’s compassion an act of choice?
I rather think it a gift of grace.”

The man from Dachau then appeared
to confirm my friends were right.
“The parade”, he said, “is unendingly long
of those who shuffle by –
starving children, women beaten,
the tortured, guiltless and cruelly oppressed,
the dispossessed, the mind manacled,
the legions of the poor.
I merely do what I must do.
Those who can, should follow.”


Honoring My Grandmother | A Social Justice Poem by Shelly Blankman

I sit in the grass by my grandmother’s grave
as I do every year, leave a stone, a Jew’s way
to show respect. I feel our souls touch.

I speak to her, about family events she never saw,
great-grandchildren she never met. I tell her how
much I love her, miss her, and I leave fulfilled.

This year, I tell her I’m sorry she is forgotten…
her pain, her struggles, her terror, her arduous journey,
her American dream destroyed in a cyclone of hate,

where swastikas and slurs swarm like bees, effigies
hang like ornaments, and Nazi chants draw cheers.
This year I mourn for her and for all those like her.

I am sad for those who say get over it.
Wounds have left scabs that are being picked open.
I feel chilled, my spirit broken.

The stone of respect I left behind seems crushed
like the fragile bones of fledglings under
Nazi boots in fresh dirt.

Don’t tell me to move on. Not yet.
Don’t judge, listen.
Don’t tell me you know. Hold my hand.

I want to feel protected. I want to feel safe.
My grandmother sacrificed more than you know
so I could live unafraid. She deserves that.

I do, too.

The Conscience Has a Face | A Social Justice Poem by Judy Moskowitz

the conscience of humanity
is more than philosophy
or ideology
it has a face that took
human form
speaking every language and dialect
with a gentle but firm grip
awakening the world
from a coma
lasting decades and more
denial can no longer hide
behind barbed wired atrocities
dancing on graves
of the suffering
the blind can smell death
the deaf can see
the reminder of history
permanently tattooed
in a world gone mad
the conscience has a face
that died today
his name was Elie Wiesel