Social Justice Poetry

Marsha Owens

Step into My Shoes | A Social Justice Poem by Marsha Owens

…he writes on the cell floor,
all to say, “tread on me
then hear
my whisper
caress this cell,
then feel my heart
beat, forgotten
kids wrapped in razor
wire in this pipeline
from school to prison
scream into the night.”

He scribbles “I’m scared,”
then writes his story entitled
“The End.”

(Art 180 in Richmond, Virginia encourages incarcerated youth to find expression through the arts. Virginia refers more youth to law enforcement than any other state. NPR News, 2016)

Before Roe v. Wade | A Social Justice Poem by Marsha Owens

I didn’t know the girl
raped by her uncle, the one
who told her dirty jokes,
the neighbor women whispered
poor girl, eleven, disappeared,
gone to ‘the home.’

I knew about The Home out on
the highway for girls who got
themselves pregnant,
as though they caught
a disease because they
didn’t wear a jacket.

I didn’t know the girl
on the sidewalk downtown,
her head lifted to catch
moving air in the wrinkles
of her shiny black neck, road tar melting
in hot July, baby
in her 14-year-old belly.

I didn’t know. I stuffed my white
gloves into my pocket, went back
to my whiter-than-white neighborhood.
hung my white blouse in the closet,
coat hangers jangling
their impatience like little girls who
just want to play outside.