Social Justice Poetry

refugee poems

The Second Son of Nasir Ahmed | A Social Justice Poem by Katelyn Thomas

She brushes his becalmed lips before
she lifts his spirit-slipped
shell into her husband’s hands.
What do her neighbors say
as they anchor, hearts furled?

Take comfort as if your womb does not
still clench only months after he gasped
his first salutation to the world.
Your son is but a small ship that
has been impaled upon a huge
iceberg of misinformation
and now floats upon the ocean of
blood that flowed in our streets as
he joins those who have already
been broken and shattered on the rocks
jutting from the shores on the far
side of the Bay of Bengal.

Involuntary Exodus | A Social Justice Poem by Langley Shazor

Moved in thousands
Hordes herded
Mothers from daughters
Fathers from sons
Husbands from wives
Some seeing one another for the last time
Others later reunited
At this moment, neither was certain
Crowded vessels
Where so many sojourn
This final destination
No promised land
Milk and honey, there was not
But flowing nonetheless
A mass influx
Guided under a guise
No rest for the weary

The Sea | A Social Justice Poem by Mary Anne Zammit

When I open my eyes

Waking up from my dreams.
I felt shocked,
to learn that men have not changed.
That war is still man’s struggle.
Everywhere, around me.

When I opened my eyes,
I only saw women suffering, children misplaced.
In a world where equality and Justice are forgotten words.
So, I closed my eyes and returned to my dreams.
Yes, I still dream that man is compassionate and that one day he will be open to the light.
To peace.
Then, I would open my eyes.

I like to paint the sea,
And write a poem for its beauty,
its moods fascinate me, high, low, loving, destructive.

Still, when I look at the sea,
I see other waves, the countless souls of immigrants perished in sea.
Women, men, children and so I do not feel like painting it.
How I long to embrace the waves hoping to put an end to this ongoing tragedy.

The sea and all the souls behind it.

Washed Up | A Social Justice Poem by Lynn White

So many dead people
caught in the crossfire
created by the the money men,
the arms traders,
the super ego-ed politicians.
They lie dead where they fell.
Flesh and blood transformed to
fertilizer to nurture the seeds
and grow the crops, in a future
they will not see.
Their bones decaying to dust
to form the building blocks
of homes they will never inhabit.
Dying where they fell,
over there, not here
and not looking like us.
Unseen or soon forgotten
by us here.

But the dead washed up
on holiday beaches
look like our flesh and blood.
They’re wearing our clothes.
They’re washing up to haunt us
in the Old World.
Then there’s the living,
washed up alive
and by any means necessary
moving on to bear witness,
if any one is listening.
To bring the horror home
to those who created it
in the Old World.
Bringing it home to the Old World,
but not as yet to the New.

Visit Lynn at

Flotsam and Jetsam | A Social Justice Poem by Colin McCandless

Tossed ashore like driftwood on a beach
Unable to steer a course, your humanity they beseech
Stripped bare, they crawl forth naked, newly born
Will you draw them to your breast, or will leave them forlorn?
The old familiar fears creep in as you clutch your pockets
And turn away from imploring faces and sunken sockets
This is a time for casting judgments aside
For moving forward with arms open wide
But instead the gates are locked and the entrance barred
While the castaways desperation grows, their psyches scarred
No short memory deprivation, your conscience laid clear,
Never will it be forgotten, the events that transpired here

Child on the Beach | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

I remember taking my older son, Dan to the beach
On the ocean, on Long Island; he loved to play in
The sand, digging holes, building castles, and then
We’d go in; I’d push him along on his floaty toy
He’d sit up safe, captain of all he surveyed and
I was the engine, never out very deep, we’d make
Boat noises, chug around, I was his trusty guide,
His lifeguard, his life preserver, always that safe;
So when I saw the little boy washed up and dead
On that beach in Greece, I thought of his parents;
His father would probably have wanted to push
Him along in a floating toy, his son the captain of
All he surveyed, making all the boat noises, and he
Would be his lifeguard, his life preserver, his port in
Every storm — but that will never be.