Social Justice Poetry

lack of opportunity poems

Dying in a Small Town | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

It is not my home
Though the place
Of my birth
So many changes
Mines closed
Stores shuttered
A cancer of neglect
Running through
The community
Children gone
A city
Without a voice
Without a future
I see the signs
Of decay
A hole
Where the high school
Once stood
The yells of cheerleaders
All dried up
Aged out
The bulldog mascot
Without a bark
School colors
Justly black
With little gold
I see
Such poor promise
For a town
On life support
And something in me
Wants to cry

A New Depression Photo for Walker Evans | A Social Justice Poem by Jeff Burt

In abandoned factories gather abandoned people
who no longer do anything with abandon.

The massive conveyor system of steady employment
has broken, the machinery of work has ground

to a halt, the rope unravels that leads to hope.
Wealth begets wealth. Like hand-me-downs, only poverty

gets redistributed among the poor.
See? A rich person is unlike any other, distinguishable,

but a poor person is like all others, extinguishable.
The large man in the photo crouching

in the dimly lit corner, he could be a couch-surfing teen,
an orphan, or turned another way, a single mom.

Constricting | A Social Justice Poem by Langley Shazor

We willingly create ties
which cut off circulation
rubber band life styles
pent up energy
removing blood flow
constricting oxygen
We release the knots
only to bounce right back into confusion
So we lace up our boots
and march on
until we can’t feel our toes
Thinking this determination will yield positive results
But eventually, you won’t be able to walk
Now we sit
stuck behind desks
covering our anguish with tailored suits
Pressed shirts and sharp collars
with bow-ties we forfeit our last breath
Tethered to investments
with very low returns
After long days
we trade these collars in
Only to put on ones with leashes
handed over to those that drag us
pull us
and bark commands
Never allowing us to walk freely
for fear of losing control
So they keep us close
Choking our spirit
We “stay” like a good pet
Because, well, that is what you’re supposed to do
This life
This everyday life
We perpetuate freely
Until the last heartbeat
And there is no