Social Justice Poetry

Stephen Mead

Generic Struggle | A Social Justice Poem by Stephen Mead

It’s sort of a horror —
Ashes in the mouth, fish subsisting
on mud —
hypothetical fringes, camps, camps
of cracks where real humans slip…

Homeless, here on the last frontier
there’s room enough for millions
to live out of a car, pitch a tent, grow
up in a dark the texture of thatch.

To taste the stale odor of resources drying,
to breathe that exhaust
is to suddenly find yourself another
bottle-tossed boat person
washing, washing…

I’m inside that knife
experiencing the exposed belly’s
sensations, and what pierces, and when.

It’s the heart of a photo of three women
weeping over some body shot down.

Madonna’s aren’t myths. Truly, martyrs feel:
Grief, the black garb, not a symbol simply,
but more a face wrinkled expressive with
gestures, of having stolen sights gelling
as dreams at the edges of breathing, of breath.

Is to lose them to harden, become brittle,
hollow, a shell of straw
whistling in the breeze?

Down at the bowels of featureless dots on
a chart, down past the grid to a network
of sewage tunnels, the human soul’s reduced
to the garble some loudspeaker blasts.

Each evening, on the air waves, that trouble,
a roomful of mirrors, delivers the same news.

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