Social Justice Poetry

poverty poems

They Closed the Supermarket | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

They closed the
Supermarket he and his
Family shopped at,
The only one nearby,
The last vestige of
Normalcy in a strip mall
Populated by predatory
Loan places and
Thrift stores.

Now the only store left
In the neighborhood
Where they can buy food
Is the convenience store,
Where everything costs
A lot more and
Stretches their meager
Budget even more than
It already is.

People ask him why he
Doesn’t just drive to
Another store,
He politely keeps his
Response to himself,
It’s just not that easy
To drive when you don’t
Make enough money to afford
A car, insurance, or gas.

Poverty | A Social Justice Poem by Krushna Chandra Mishra

What a testing tool this poverty is
to keep the chaff out from the grains
to let the foolish world admit
all is not that gold in shining
and silver screens may not
always be behind all dark clouds
and between the moon and the bread
there always hangs hunger
as the poor never afraid of falling
from a cliff where death reigns
if there is the scent of food brewing
and if elsewhere amid junkyards
and in bio-undegradable polypacks
rotting for days and turning poison
food is visible to the eyes of those
starving emaciated shrivelled bodies
in skinned skeletons as they romp
the land not knowing what looks
life-giving is very soon going to
be spinning out death for them.

Poverty equates in hunger and death
telling nothing really matters
in this tyrannical world where
when the people die hypocrites
in slinging mud on every face are heard
when all is set for nothing to be clearly seen
to fix and find and fine the fools
who in cunning hide in havens
of safety that confusion breeds.

Mac | A Social Justice Poem by Roy Pullam

His orange Studebaker
Pulled up
To our house
Mac, my father’s friend
Struggled to get out
Gripping the steering wheel
Pulling his thin body
To the running board
His body twisted right
Broken beyond repair
In a mining accident
His left side
Ratcheted forward
His steps labored
He took the hose
From the coil
On the ground
Placing it
In the fifty-gallon barrel
One of six
In the bed
Of the truck
His well
Without a bottom
Blown out
By the explosions
In the nearby strip mines
I stood by Mac
Holding the grass sack
Full of Purex
Bleach bottles
Jugs I had gathered
At the dump
Jugs he would pay
A nickel for
Jugs he would fill
With the moonshine
He made on the hill
Behind his house
Mac always came
With gumdrops
With chocolate drops
With licorice
He bartered for the water
Mother was not happy
But Dad knew
Without the liquor sales
Mac would starve
They caught Mac
Destroyed his still
Locked him up
Five years
The judge lecturing Mac
For his sin
Of selling whiskey
In a dry county
And at the end
Of his work day
The judge
Had a highball
With friends
At the VFW
Rules are for poor people
Like Mac
The rich
Find their exceptions
The space
Between the laws

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
Oatmeal
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