Social Justice Poetry

hate poems

Puppet Master of Hate | A Social Justice Poem by G. Louis Heath

He pulls the strings of hate, lives in the forest
In a shotgun cabin without a pillow for love.

He pays out twine, marinated in poison, as into
The Minotaur’s maze, to numb minds below.

He knows how to tangle viperous string into
Cortical realms, neurons fizzing to be strung.

His power fomented from the upcountry baffles
Pundits, his legerdemain refreshing poison in

Marionette skulls unseen. At last he throws his
Hands up in victory, “Look Mom! No strings!”

A Noose Left in the Museum | A Social Justice Poem by Marcelius Braxton

Do you know the story of Mary Turner?
8 months pregnant,
lynched for her protest of another lynching,
that of her husband’s–
whose accusers were willingly
judge, jury, and executioner.

Her voice, silenced by any means,
Means that entailed cutting her unborn child from her body,
watching it fall to the ground,
and crushing its head—after it released a small glimpse of life,
two innocent cries.
Do you hear the cries of the unborn child?

Shot after shot, in the hundreds,
penetrated her flesh into her already deceased body.
Do you smell the residue of gunfire?

Undeniable progress encountered your vestige of hate that day.
It reminds us of Mary Turner.
It reminds us of Jesse Washington, lynched over a bonfire,
castrated while 10,000 men, women, and even children, rejoiced.
It reminds us of black soldiers,
hanging from a tree in uniform
as a display that disdain for blackness trumps service to country.

We are reminded
not just that progress does not eradicate hate–
but that the lives lost through hate
must be remembered in order to progress.

The End of Sexism | A Social Justice Poem by Matt Alexander

Oscillating randomly around any true signal
Buzzes all kinds of noise

White, Pink, Brown, Black, Shot, Poisson, Normal, Phase, Transient
Temporary flares awaiting mean reversion

So to equate an unrepresentative spike
With a bona fide increase

And dub an anecdote
The new status quo

Is the mistake of an amateur
Fool or fraud with ulterior motives

Like when after the election of our first black president
Some claimed that racism had come to an end

“We have reached the top!
Now let us dispense with this pesky climbing gear.”

Only to have it roar back — broad swaths of people
Discounted wholesale

For their language’s
Word for God

Skin color
Or parent’s birthplace

— in its ugliest form
With a fool’s gold face of Orange noise

So now that we have a woman similarly poised
Brace yourselves

For similarly false grand claims: “Full Gender Equality
Followed by

(Even more) misogyny
Hysterical, shrill, and overly emotional itself

And yet one hopes against hope
These victories are not outliers but indeed indicative —

Hope: echoes of that word reverberate manifold from bygone cycles
Transmogrifying the ‘o’ to an ‘a’ and the ‘p’ to a ‘t’
these melancholy days —

Of real progress, though the ever-increasing standard deviation makes
All but impossible to reach

Visit Matt on Twitter @thenamesmatta.

After the Latest Attacks | A Social Justice Poem by John L. Stanizzi

…in just a few days the rumor spread
of the rooms emptied of words
and filled with screams. Swollen eyes.
— By Emilio Zucchi, Translated by Beppe Cavatorta and Brenna Ward.

I’m sitting outside on a cool mid-November evening
the day after the next violence
resting by a little fire I’ve started
smoke mostly
an ember fallen
trying to get up
winter’s blind contour tapestry settled in now
and the trees knuckled and intricate
more tangled and lovely than in summer
I’m watching YouTube
Gerald Stern is reading a poem about a grapefruit
but mostly I’m watching how he turns the page
a kind of excitement or urgency in his fingers
He turns them quickly so that when he says the words
mostly from memory
the next page will be the correct one
an unnecessary reminder that he’s in the right place
The sky is darkening and it is cool and silent
not even the sound of one bird
and the streak along the top of the far hills is pink
(OK I’ll say it)
like a grapefruit
my feeble attempt to make some kind of connection
among all the splintered pieces of everything
hoping that if I can gather together two or three
I may find something like hope
or the reemergence of the sense of the goodness in people
And the burning logs with their square and rectangular demarcations
remind me of burned-out cities seen from the air
an image brought to mind no doubt
because today like every day
the world is on fire
It’s burning everywhere
and poor poor expressionless faces
are lit by flames
concealed a little by smoke
but I can see that it’s not sorrow —
it’s emptiness
as they roam the charred streets searching for the lost

though soon enough this too will be forgotten
The burning bodies and the wild words whispered somewhere
explaining the necessity of this
or the horror of that
or the score of the game
will become memory
a vague recollection no matter how terrible
Then I hear a bird chipping quietly
in a tree gone all black these past few moments
That private little pipe in the dark makes me smile
It brings tears to my eyes
and the fire crackles quietly
and how beautiful this dark is
and there is peace I realize
but you have to go down between the black spaces
between the delineations on the fiery logs
deep down beneath the flares and smoke
The world is burning
and the need to know what comes next comes quickly
Ember on the ground
bigger fires burning everywhere
blazing on the next page
When we turn to it it will be on fire
And the chill November night
cannot quench those flames or the next
The hot red flashes of hatred
thrust up into the blackened sky
Could they be a signal
a call for help
for grace
up in the sky with no stars
the fire hissing
the sound of a distant car
going somewhere I cannot imagine
to do normal things
routine chores
unremarkable tasks
though I fear it could be burning there too

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