Social Justice Poetry

Leah Monde

November 9 | A Social Justice Poem by Leah Mond

Crestfallen, we stomped out boots over the crunchy leaves and down the steps into the subway tunnels where grieving commuters tuned out a little more than usual today

I thought I heard Mother Earth say “In some ways, she’d be just as bad anyway” as evidenced by the strange sunlight of this strange November day. “She did this too, in some kind of way…”

And I don’t like to argue with Mother Earth, but the day before I had to tell her “A flood is gonna come if I don’t make this strange sunlight go away”

So I sat down on the part of this walk that makes sense to me, where the beaten-up harbor smells like the sea. It’s where I usually go to get clarity – but that day? So scared of the blood, he took the wind right out of me.

“But you can swim and handle the wind” she whispers as the tide comes in.”

Yes, it’s true, I know how to swim. But it was others who’d sink as the tide came in.

And though I am the one who doesn’t need to sun every day
The plants, they will die if you take it away!

And, then, the sweet Mother Earth that once cradled me when I was ill
Disappeared with the wind and I was forced to be still

The clouds blocked the sun and the beams went away
And the shine on the harbor went from blue to gray

And it was 8:55 so we headed to the ship
Latinas and Muslims and LGBT folks in the mix
In shock, you’d wonder if we were indifferent to it
But the wind hit us harder than we’d like to admit

And it wasn’t until I left the embrace of the mother
That I approached the crowded boat with my sisters and brothers
Me light, them dark, we were separated at birth
As it rained on their crops and I drank from the Earth

I drank from the Earth, having no idea
The frenzy that floods cause for the people I see here

Here in the city that stole me from trees
Where I learned from others how to master the breeze

I breathed in their struggles, I stood in their trains
Until I could no longer swallow water, knowing how much they get screwed when it rains

So I am now on this boat with the gardeners and their weeds
It’s a dreary ride with an oppressive breeze
And I lock eyes with a woman, she’s darker than me
The fear. We connect. I finally see what she sees.

Criminal Injustice – A Tribute to Kalief Browder | A Social Justice Poem by Leah Monde

They stopped me
Turned me around and pat me down, hands on the hood of the car
Thick, menacing hands. Baton in between my legs
They told me to come with them and then I could go home.
I never went home that day.
Interrogation. Small cement stuffy room
Several men yelling. Spit in my face.
I didn’t do anything!
I don’t know!
I’m innocent!
Then came the third step in breaking me down, the strip search, the uniform
Dry, lonely cells.
Where is my Mom?
What’s going to happen?
Scared out of my mind.
These peers don’t even have my back.
It’s all about the Bloods, the Latin Kings
All this rage
Shouldn’t we be on the same team?
They told me that I could have gotten out on bail
Avoided the hellhole.
But my Mama makes minimum wage
And couldn’t afford the $3000 bail
So I rot in that hell for 33 months
Almost two years of which in the hole
The Shu
I was never a bad kid, just did my best tried my hardest
But their hatred drove me to hate myself
Rage turned inward
I even told them I wanted to end my life and all I got in return was a slap in the goddamned face.
No mental health care
Five times I tried to end my life
Then one day, unexplainably I was set free.
Charges dropped
No apologies for the trauma, the wasted years.
Simply kicked to the curb in Queens with a one-way metro card.
I thought it would be better when I was home but it turned out to be worse on another level.
So isolated, existing in a haze.
Criminal record – no one takes you seriously. What is a man to do?
What is a man to do?
You failed me.
I didn’t fail myself, I tried I stuck to my convictions.
And the world spit in my face.
I am sorry Mama, but I can’t take this pain anymore. Goodbye.