Social Justice Poetry

rigged system poems

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

Advantages | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

If you’ve grown up with a
Certain set of advantages
It’s natural to not be aware of them,
After all, they were always there,
You could just enjoy what they
Did for you without worrying about why,
Or whether it was fair or not that
They weren’t available to others.
For your fellow human beings
Without those advantages,
The world is a very different place,
One where they may not have access to
The things you did, where they have
To work more to succeed less or
Live under an intractable cloud
Threatening to wash away their dreams.
For those in shadow,
The light looks very different.

Favor | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

You can’t build a thriving,
Egalitarian, democratic society
If you set it up to favor
Only one group at the expense of
All others. Once you’ve given
Every advantage to one segment of
The population, it’s disingenuous
To purport that, because one or two
Of the non-chosen ones succeed,
Equal opportunity actually exists;
Those are the exceptions to the
System you’ve created to make sure
Only certain people prosper.

So Who Exactly Is Working for Whom? | A Social Justice Poem by Dan Tindall

Fake news, foreign wars
And wiki-leaking
Generally speaking has
Only come to defence of the
Enemies of freedom
Not the voices of the lost
Or the poor who are the cost of
Making money at the double
Dollar euro rouble

So who exactly is working for whom?

I don’t see refugees resettled
Or rust belts get re-metalled
Hard-won rights are stripped and beaten
There’s fracking poison in the food you’ve eaten
Oil in water
Cancerous air
But the big boys don’t care

The proles loved Caesar because he said he was their guy
(He wasn’t)
His in-laws and friends killed him because they thought he meant it
(He didn’t)

So who exactly is working for whom?

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