Social Justice Poetry

Victor Fein

Inauguration | A Social Justice Poem by Victor Fein

Inauguration Day 2009

Forty seven people crowd into a small open-air restaurant in a Central American village.
A wall-mounted television allows us to watch Barack Obama become America’s president.
The air is thick with excitement, anticipation.
People from around the globe gather in the tiny village to witness this historic event.

Prior to Obama’s speech outgoing president Bush is shown
waving good-by with an air of embarrassment. Hisses and boos create the melody of sound in the room as he boards a plane to depart.
Next Dick Cheney, aptly dressed in black from head to toe depicts his well-deserved Darth Vader image.
A black brimmed hat shadows his face.
He sits slightly slumped in a wheelchair while he is rolled from view.
Hisses, boos louder even than Bush’s accompany his retreat.
Obama becomes the focus as he, his wife, and two girls approach the stage.
Cheers break out across the room. People unknown to one another a short time before turning to one another sharing hugs.
Tears flow in anticipation and hope for the
years to come. Openly expressed prayers are spoken.
Obama’s words create a hopeful spirit of a global harmony, of
environmental consciousness, for racial equanimity, gay rights, women’s rights, peaceful world engagement.
His demeanor calm, his speech slow and deliberate.
The crowd dissipates after his elocution. So much hope, so much relief.

Inauguration Day 2017

Eight years have passed. I return to the same small restaurant in Central America.
Six senior citizens, all Americans, sit watching Trump take the stage. There is a hollow feel in the room.
Prior to his speech cameras turn to outgoing president Obama and his family sitting together staying on to observe the event.
They do not depart, no one is wearing black.
They appropriately remain sitting without shame for their time in leading America through the difficulty of healing many deep wounds Bush and Cheney left: a crushed economy,
the destruction associated with no weapons of mass destruction, corruption, environmental depletion.
I stand observing the reaction of the six seniors as Trump
hypes his goals. Kill Obamacare, reverse gay rights, take away some women’s rights, ban Muslim’s from entering America, build a wall
separating us from Mexico and have them pay for it,
environmental destruction, deport immigrants among other harmful intentions.
One woman supporter raises her arm, fist closed and cheers.
The other five sit quietly.
The room feels hollow as Trump’s voice echoes off the empty walls.