Social Justice Poetry

human suffering poems

Involuntary Exodus | A Social Justice Poem by Langley Shazor

Moved in thousands
Hordes herded
Mothers from daughters
Fathers from sons
Husbands from wives
Some seeing one another for the last time
Others later reunited
At this moment, neither was certain
Crowded vessels
Where so many sojourn
This final destination
No promised land
Milk and honey, there was not
But flowing nonetheless
A mass influx
Guided under a guise
No rest for the weary

The Sea | A Social Justice Poem by Mary Anne Zammit

When I open my eyes

Waking up from my dreams.
I felt shocked,
to learn that men have not changed.
That war is still man’s struggle.
Everywhere, around me.

When I opened my eyes,
I only saw women suffering, children misplaced.
In a world where equality and Justice are forgotten words.
So, I closed my eyes and returned to my dreams.
Yes, I still dream that man is compassionate and that one day he will be open to the light.
To peace.
Then, I would open my eyes.

I like to paint the sea,
And write a poem for its beauty,
its moods fascinate me, high, low, loving, destructive.

Still, when I look at the sea,
I see other waves, the countless souls of immigrants perished in sea.
Women, men, children and so I do not feel like painting it.
How I long to embrace the waves hoping to put an end to this ongoing tragedy.

The sea and all the souls behind it.

Easy Topics | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

Talk about peace, talk about war
Imagine either, imagine both
That’s easy enough to do
We watch them on television
Watch them discussed
Whenever it suits the speaker
Fits the audience and the time slot
We turn on and off to their tune
Half the world is burning
We watch children crying
Real children crying – half a world
Away from us, not next door
Those children never cry, never die
Never feel the true force of our words
Talk about peace, talk about war
Imagine either, imagine neither
Distance makes it easier – we talk it
Others get to live with what we say.

Generic Struggle | A Social Justice Poem by Stephen Mead

It’s sort of a horror —
Ashes in the mouth, fish subsisting
on mud —
hypothetical fringes, camps, camps
of cracks where real humans slip…

Homeless, here on the last frontier
there’s room enough for millions
to live out of a car, pitch a tent, grow
up in a dark the texture of thatch.

To taste the stale odor of resources drying,
to breathe that exhaust
is to suddenly find yourself another
bottle-tossed boat person
washing, washing…

I’m inside that knife
experiencing the exposed belly’s
sensations, and what pierces, and when.

It’s the heart of a photo of three women
weeping over some body shot down.

Madonna’s aren’t myths. Truly, martyrs feel:
Grief, the black garb, not a symbol simply,
but more a face wrinkled expressive with
gestures, of having stolen sights gelling
as dreams at the edges of breathing, of breath.

Is to lose them to harden, become brittle,
hollow, a shell of straw
whistling in the breeze?

Down at the bowels of featureless dots on
a chart, down past the grid to a network
of sewage tunnels, the human soul’s reduced
to the garble some loudspeaker blasts.

Each evening, on the air waves, that trouble,
a roomful of mirrors, delivers the same news.

Visit Stephen at

Dreams | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

Even on the nights he heard planes overhead, flying too low
Even the nights he heard sirens, so many sirens coming nearer and
Even the nights he heard bombing, sometimes in the distance, sometimes nearby
Even the nights he heard his parents arguing about leaving, staying
Even on the nights he heard people running in the street, screaming, crying
Even the nights he heard shooting, going from house to house
Even on those nights he had really bad dreams.