Social Justice Poetry

poems about shame

December 1954 | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

The wind penetrated my jacket
I hunched my back
Exposing as little
As I could
To the elements
The road was muddy
The gravel spun away
By the numerous cars
That travelled my street
I had no gloves
How ironic
That the cold
Burned my hands
Like scalding water
The mile
To Broadway school
Would be cold
The mist
Like smoke
Escaped with every breath
I watched my feet
Avoiding the puddles
Hopscotching my way
Up the road
We didn’t talk much
It was
As if the weather
Had frozen words
In our mouths
I longed
For a heavier coat
Cap and gloves
Like others had
But they
Were on the list
Of things
We couldn’t afford
A ride
Would be nice
But others
Their heads bowed
Walked with us
Across the tracks
The tracks
That separated the poor
From others
Whose parents
Owned cars
Children with parkas
Warm mittens
In their stomaches
Often envy
Made me ashamed
Of where and how
I lived
But I told no one
For fear
It would find
Its way
To my mother’s ears
Adding guilt
To the burden
She already carried