Social Justice Poetry

homelessness poems

Vagrant Soup | A Social Justice Poem by Paul Tristram

You can tell when the first frost is on its way…
the Down-And-Outs don’t talk in the soup-run queue.
Instead, they stand there in silent huddles,
like mourners at a bewildered funeral,
at the back of the opened-doored, volunteer van.
Steams of breath floating up into the evening, Winter air,
mostly statue-like, apart from the shivering.
It’s a shame to have to park down on this quayside,
the wind rips straight up this river from yonder estuary
something mercilessly and almost with a vengeance.
But, the Council have banned the Homeless
from the City Centre, whether sober or not, doesn’t matter.
The sight of them was upsetting the Christmas shoppers…
as they vulture in and out of the decorated stores,
tasting free wine samples and spending thousands.
Stocking up on more than enough ‘Merry’
to see them safely through their warm, magical, full of love
and gift-sharing Holiday Season… God bless us one and all!

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Mental Health | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

We settled it years ago, closed asylums, so many,
those Dickensian places, exposed, closed, patients,
inmates released into the world, often just left off
with few plans and fewer places to go; streets are
never enough; homeless they haunt us, we jail them,
fill emergency rooms with them, with no beds for
them; instead of doctors we give them the police,
instead of treatment, we jail them, instead of solutions
we get statistics, how many of the homeless, how
many crimes, how many dollars we spend to no end,
and we’re getting to know that solutions are never
as easy as they seem to be.

Coldest Night So Far | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

Shelters fill fast on nights like this –
going down to twenty, maybe lower,
promises snow by morning, winter
weather warning, six inches or more;
the prospects are few, the best ones
fill, the sober and people they know
go first and then what’s left for those
who pass the reputation and attitude
test, the rest must do for themselves,
the drunks and drugged wander out into
the night, the weather is theirs to keep;
a few don’t make it, we find them in
parking lots, in fields, frozen, just dead,
sometimes we know them, other times
they become nameless reminders of
the fact, shelters fill fast on nights like this.

Better at Worst | A Social Justice Poem by Ndifreke George

She wraps herself all in one rough piece
Away from the universe filled with cruel voices
Beautiful demons and charming dark angels
Smiling their deadly fangs
Her heart is plagued
With endless slaps and stabs
Scorched by the sun
Soaked in the rain
But she is safe in her tattered refuge
The gutter is safer than the estates
The dumpster cooks better meals
Her tattered rags fit better than shimmering apparel
Once beaten, twice shy
She is safe in others’ danger
She has nothing to worry about
Let her worries worry over her
She is not schizophrenic
Because she can still remember
That she is one of those widows
Abused, beaten and deprived of her life.

Her Daughter | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

She stares at her daughter,
The same one who was filled
With joy and promise just
A year ago, the one who
Dutifully did everything
She was asked and never caused
A problem, a ready smile
Brightening the world around her.

She learns that her daughter
Lives in a tent
With an abusive man who
Has impregnated her.
Inside, she rages with shame,
The gall of this child,
Homeless, alcoholic, ungrateful,
Making her look bad.