Social Justice Poetry

Larry Schug

A Toothache during the Bombing of Baghdad | A Social Justice Poem by Larry Schug

The throbbing wisdom tooth kept me up three nights
with three days of pain between,
each throb followed by another heartbeat of hurt,
but that’s all it was; just pain, plain old pain–
no misery, agony, anguish or torment, just pain.
It was just a toothache that hurt like hell
but I thought that there’s probably some poor bastard
hiding in a bombed-out basement in Baghdad
whose wisdom tooth is throbbing just like mine
and he has no shot of blessed novocaine, no laughing gas,
no pretty nurses, lifting his shirt, fitting him with monitors
before they put him under for the extraction.
All that man has is prayer to ease his pain
and a gun that he’s thinking about using on his tooth.
All he can manage is half-awake sleep
but no pretty nurse wakes him
after a while to tell him he can go home now,
his pain is gone.

Visit Larry at

That Ol’ Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness Conundrum | A Social Justice Poem by Larry Schug

An old gospel song
says His eye is on the sparrow
and, by implication, the fat robin
I watch taking a splash bath
in a shallow puddle
at the edge of an irrigated lawn.
I’ve been told His eye is on you and me,
clean as only Americans can be,
with all the water we want,
but no one seems to have his eye
on the Ethiopian women, backs bent low,
carrying water from a sporadic muddy seep
back to their village on a dry mountain,
fifty pounds, twenty miles, three times a day
hoping to keep their children alive
and their husbands happy one more day.
None of them has taken a bath in their lives,
but they seem at least as godly
as the whistle-clean people filling the pews beside me,
their thoughts already on an afternoon at the lake
as they bow their heads in prayer.

Visit Larry at