Social Justice Poetry

social divisions poems

Circus | A Social Justice Poem by Tara Lynn Hawk

Silently stepping out
Into this world each morning
In sleep-rumpled clothes and with
An expression intended to
Ward off all takers
A tiresome daily ritual
Unwanted but necessary

There exists a rather
Infinite sorrow that hangs
About outside
Like a toxic cloud in search
Of its own forever home
Enveloping crash values
I reject

We proceed to show ourselves
But only for a minute or two
Before retreating back
Into the tiny bricked up
Private havens we created
With bare hands now
Wrinkled from the sun
And distress

Mourning the loss of
Our naked heart companions
Forests of well-aged trees
Cherished books and
The spontaneity of a pure life
Lived through art
We await for our turn
To join our friends

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Time for Truth | A Social Justice Poem by Laura Iodice

First came reed tools on wet clay,
Stories told in pictures casting night from day,
Proof that even unmeasured, time matters.
Time to hunt; time to eat; time to gather.
Time to come between alphas and the pack.

And elsewhere, etchings on shell and stone;
Tools that set us in our place, this time
Through Divinations
That measure distance from earth to sky,
If not in miles and meters, than in power and possibility.

Next came lists for counting, another way to calculate.
My three sheep for your two blankets.
I keep you fed; you keep me warm.
And if my growing outpaces your stitching
There are markets elsewhere.

Trade bought time. Time to pray; time to feast; time to think.
And then, time to wonder about Time, itself.
About what remains when our breath dries out.
Fearful of the answer, we fight others for fallow land,
Even while ours grows barren from the battle.

Back in the flock, we mend our wounded
And mark each bone with reed on papyrus
As if the record were the cure.
Time becomes our enemy; resources, our god,
And beer, both revenue and remedy.

Finally, ink quill finds paper on which to bleed
Story and we multiply, a dialogue, a chorus.
Dip and write. Blow dry. Bind.
Bodies die, but thoughts live on.
Bound, they become history, if not truth.

And what of Truth, truth as indemnity?
Multiply ink and paper, the story grows
Stronger, more real through the telling,
Long past its inspiration and narration,
A goddess of imagination.

It spreads like Rorschach ink,
Each book, a different author; each story, a different slant.
Interpretations and editions; translations and illustrations.
Parceled out to the masses
Like unclaimed baggage.

For expedience, Truth marries Time.
“A good match!” they claim.
Both, mutable, yet measurable.
Both relative, yet irrespective.
Both definitive, yet infinite.

Together, they breed modernity.
They are Eve and Adam, naked and falling
From Garden to thorny weeds.
And their sons invent envy even before
The clock learns to tick.

Inbred mutants, the boys have no shame.
They’re Thorn and Weed; ambition and fear.
They’re the need to have and the need to hoard.
They’re avarice and ignorance.
So hungry, each takes a bite of the other.

Time spins, while Truth runs behind
Trying to catch up with his tale.
Soon, clacking keys conquer ink and pen.
“Type faster!” she implores.
“Keep pace; if not, improvise!”

“No time to think!” she cries.
“The hands of time are fleeting!” And then
It springs to mind that thought can’t conquer time.
No, only fire can burn a hole in the sun,
So like the Phoenix, she puts a match to herself.

And rising from her ashes, leaves Time behind.
She is deep pockets and empty souls.
She is click-baits and tweets.
She’s the fourth estate churning, then burning.
She’s turned on by remote and is always turned on.

Truth tilts toward her window where Opportunity taps.
Behind him, all is golden and glowing.
“How do you do it?” Truth asks.
“Let me in and I’ll show you,” he whispers.
She does. And he consumes her; bleeds her dry.
Now one, their wings propel them forward

Toward rulers and erasers,
Toward wolves and sheep,
Toward groping hands and “Please, don’t touch,”
Toward “Left, left, left, right, left,”
Two wings of the same bird, they tear their host apart.

Toward Wannabes and Has-beens.
Toward “Me first” and “Only us.”
Toward “Never again” and “Whatever…”
Toward Get-ahead and Left-behind,
They hold on tightly as the battered bird flies.

And Time? He burns the bridge they crossed to get here.
And treacherous Truth? She wings on, willfully ignorant
Of where she is going or why it matters,
Heedless of the ashes she spreads in her wake,
Like smoking ruins from an untended fire.

Basket Weave | A Social Justice Poem by Langley Shazor

Intercultural divisions
Create indivisible boundaries
Invisible expanses
Inner city ravines
“Don’t go to that side of town.”
Because having “sense” and not
Being determined by one’s use of proper grammar
Or lack thereof
Substrata of self-inflicted segregation
This mangled microcosm
Apocryphal declarations of caste
Relentlessly decaying
Esteem and identification inhibited
Eight hundred years before two hundred year slaves
The framework was being laid
No coattails
Drawstrings of sack cloths ridden
Led by their own
Followed by others
Decolonization to recolonization
Reappropriation to misappropriation to disappropriation
A mile in shoes
A mile on bare feet
The direction remains