Social Justice Poetry

immigration poems

A Swan Song for Rich Countries | A Social Justice Poem by Eva van Beek

You can build a great wall
and mount all the guards
to put up defence
in each of the seasons

however barb-wired your fortress may be
there’s always a rift for others to see

You can seal off frontiers
and block all the roads
to tighten control
at every stage

however far your borders may reach
there’s always a gate for strangers to breach

You can hedge off your acres
and set all the traps
to catch what is weird
before it’s inside

whatever land your fence may include
there’s always a chunk for clans to intrude

You can raise a high castle
and load all your guns
to aim at the souls
who just needed help

however tight your bolts come to lock
there’s always a door for migrants to knock.

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A Good Reason to Be Illegal | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

Tim’s mother told him that in 1926
she was a teen in Ireland who hid
on a ship sailing to America.

She had no papers when she ran away
from her parents’ thatched-roof hut,
a speck on an English landlord’s farm.

Her family had to plant and harvest
turnips and potatoes but it wasn’t
hard work that had made her run.

It was her father who got drunk
in front of an open fire in winter
when work was slow and food

was scarce and the family hungry.
He’d fall asleep and then wake up
and yell all night that his kids

had misbehaved and made
the English landlord angry.
There are more reasons today

to be illegal than in 1926 but
thrashings with a razor strop
created a stowaway then.

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