Category Archives: poems about opression

Bad News

Bad News

Life puts a bookmark on our pain
so we can visit it again.
Read its memory and absorb
the angst of our whole spinning orb.
Day after day, the pain is writ
in newspapers that carry it
to every mountaintop and shore.
As time advances, there’s always more.

Everywhere we share the pain.
Love is born, then lost again.
Countries advance but at the cost
of what another country’s lost.
The riches that the rich accrue
are for working man to rue.
One needs an exoskeleton
to protect him from the ill they’ve done.

War and pestilence  and greed
are given growth to by the need
of mankind to accrue still more
through exploitation and through war. 
There’s no escaping behind a door,
for daily, News just brings us more.

Prompt words today are exoskeleton, absorb, working, advance, lover, bookmark. Images from Unsplash.

Oops. Looks like the exoskeleton link didn’t work yesterday, so here it is again today:

Crystal and Amber


Crystal and Amber
(For Anmol)

Angel, wherever you fly, may you have a charmed life.
May the scroll of your life coil without kink,
your totems protect you from the cruel wrinkles of life
and those unenlightened creatures who inhabit them.

May you be you without subterfuge.
May you expose your polka dots, no matter how flamboyant.
May the keys you possess open the doors where you want to go
and the scent of your spirit waft out on a welcome breeze.

What is key in you—let it write your story,
and let the stone you were born to guide your way.
Patience. Wisdom. Balance.
Bring to the world what it needs more of.

The part of the world that knows it needs you
prays to whatever God it can believe in
that you be met with
an open hand.

I wrote this poem using the symbolism of this necklace that I made a few years ago. It was written in response to Anmol’s prompt which invites us to write a poem about pride, gender fluidity, sexuality, protest, et al. or to write about the continuing fight for equality and the realization of the aspirations of the marginalised communities.For dVerse Poets

Damning Science

Damning Science

Wisdom newly learned or tribal,
from Koran or Scroll or Bible
demarcates a line between
what shouldn’t or what should be seen
or said or listened to or done.
No matter how seemingly fun,
some things cannot be integrated.
No masterpiece is tolerated
if banned by the censor’s tool.
Thus do bigots thrive and rule
spouting truths long since belied—
asserting them as bonafide.

These half-truths to reason’s sorrow
may dictate how we live tomorrow—
our whole world screwed up by some fools
who bend the laws to their own rules,
spouting words skewed to their favor,
creating slogans dullards savor.
There is one rule for what the zealots shout.
After you have heard them out,
use your good sense to judge the acts
of those determining the facts.
Use your powers of reason to test
those who rule at our behest.

Prompt words today are masterpiece, tribal, integrated and demarcate

Mother Hen


Mother Hen

His insidious preening as he eyes each teenage guest
makes me want to gather them in a protective nest,
to spread my wings to cover them and tell them to take care.
To go home and do homework and fiddle with their hair.
I want them safe away from this producer’s leering glance.
Away from all they’ll forfeit to try to get their chance.
For all the favors he hands out, with his other hand he reaps,
consuming all the sweet young things as though they were just Peeps!

The prompts today are preen, homework, insidious and safe.

Almost a Miracle (Monologue) NaPoWriMo, Apr 15, 2019


Almost a Miracle

I need to explain to you how it happened.
I know you don’t require it, but I need to tell you,
much as a good Catholic needs absolution from her priest or her god,
I need absolution from you.
It began with a simple mishap—the gas left on after cleaning the stove.
I do not remember this action,
yet it must have been me who left the dial turned not quite shut. 
A dark part of me, because with God as my witness, I do not remember doing so.

I did remember that every payday Saturday night when he came home reeling from the tavern, he went to turn on the striker to light his cigar.
If I had actually planned it, I could not have planned it better. 
My mother and the other children had gone to Talpa
for the four day pilgrimage to the virgin
and it was my night to stay with the children
of the people whose house I cleaned.
We did this weekly to afford them the chance
to be together with their friends,

away from their demanding children.
And it gave me an opportunity to avoid my father. 

To avoid the sound of his entrance at the front gate,

the heavy pounding of his boots upon the cobbles,
the creak of the front door and his slipping the bolt
so that I knew once again that I was in the prison of his making. 
His footsteps upon the tile stairs as I lay still, my lips moving in rapid prayers,
“Our Lord, dear lord, help him pass my door tonight. 
Help him to proceed past the doors of my sisters and my brothers
and let him move to visit my mother. 
Help him to relieve the cares of his week in her presence. 
Help it to be his wife who smells the tequila of his breath,
to taste the lime on his lips.
Help me on this night not to be the partner of his sin.”

Rare was the Saturday night when my prayer was heard.
But this night, perhaps I had answered my own prayer. 
Later on, the villagers would talk about the night they heard the boom—
saw the streaking image of a man run from the front door aflame
to run down the street screaming.
“Such a tragedy,” they would say,
“but how fortunate that his wife and children were not present.
God must have been watching,” they would say,
“but then to have blinked a moment.
It was almost a miracle,” they would say. “Almost.”


The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a dramatic monologue.

Peculiar Little Habits


Peculiar Little Habits

Peculiar little habits and peculiar little ways
help us pass away the hours and wile away the days.
When you enter in the door, close it exactly twice
to be sure the catch secures as solid as a vice.
Always check the doorknobs before you go to bed
to be sure the deadbolt  is completely dead.
Security is something that can’t be left to chance.
You must man the battlements and take a vigilant stance.
Do not invite strangers to wander through your home.
Give foreign folks and foreign thoughts no further place to roam. 

Seal your borders. Block people who

may be a different color from you.
Be sure that you have set a ban

on each thing unAmerican.
Burn our silks. Wipe out baklava.
While you’re at it, ban our Java.
Set up a refreshment jury
to vote on food like Indian curry.

Wienerschnitzel’s got to go.
Ban sushi. Nix gado gado.

Chocolate should be exorcised.
Ban music that’s unauthorized.
Raga, salsa and jungle beat
are rhythms we should not repeat.
America for Americans
is how we have arranged our plans.
Blood tests mandatory for sure
to make sure our blood is pure.
Send all the dark skins we have banned
to places not so tightly planned:

Prince Edward Island or Mexico
are places they’ll be forced to go—
places less pristine and picky
content to take folks slightly icky,
not perfect folks like you and me,
immaculate in our ancestry.
With endearing little habits, peculiar little ways,
we’ll wile away our hours and wile away our days
waiting for those foreign folks on whom we need to pounce,
doling out our safety by the pound, not by the ounce.

Picking fights with neighbors, casting insults at Korea,
twittering and ranting in a verbal diarrhea.
As it is above, so has it become below—
Trying to regress from what was once the status quo.
Truth becoming what we make it, in spite of evidence—
reinventing science by divine providence
Though we cannot lock out hurricanes or fires caused  by our blindness,
we have power to lock out sanity, ecology and kindness.
We’ll check our country’s doorknobs before we go to bed
and insure that all the deadbolts are completely dead.


The prompt word today is peculiar.

We Seem Meant to Argue

We Seem Meant to Argue

We seem meant to argue, to disagree and fuss––
to call each other s.o.b.’s, to blather on and cuss.
Somehow the world needs movement––the hurricanes and tides.
In every situation, there must be clans or sides.
There is a natural movement toward the pack or cult or gang.
Each game needs an opponent, and every yin a yang.

It may be named a congregation, a party or a cause,
but still there will be discord. There always is, because
there is something within us that draws us towards division.
Every peace march draws its crowd screaming in derision.
Some force within the universe that knows the whole of it
has decreed that everything has its opposite.

So though we may crave unity and hope one day to coin
accord between the nations, and for hearts and minds to join,
the truth is that the universe is like a pendulum.
For every radical event, the opposite will come.
if we just wait long enough, it will be peace’s turn,
but in the meantime hate will pillage, conquer, rape and burn
We would have it otherwise, but hope won’t make it so.
We may unite in nations, but we’ll still go toe to toe:
nation versus nation, like street gangs in a rumble.
The most sincere peace accord eventually will crumble.
Mere wishing will not bring on peace, but we can make a start
simply by appealing to that attitude of heart

that chooses to forget and start that upward swing
that can pull the whole world with it as it takes to wing.
The answer to the hatred is to start out one-by-one
to try to make the choices to set discord on the run.
To choose the dark sides of ourself is an act of treason.
We must conquer our own petty hates and choose to live by reason.

Today’s prompt is “Argument.”


The prompt today was “nerve.” Here is where that one word led my mind.
Version 3


I admire those who have the courage and the verve
to choose a filmy cut-out dress that shows off every curve,
for I admit I have neither the figure nor the nerve!

  There is no scale for bravery, no ruler and no gauge
for those who memorize their lines and stand up on the stage
reciting without benefit of the printed page.

Some men face off lions in the lion’s den,
and women face off dangers from the selfsame men,
while I sit home and face the dangers of the brush and pen.

Some may find their courage in the finest wine––
others at the bottom of a tankard or a stein,
but my imagination is where I go for mine.

Conviction is so easy when it’s written on a page
unhindered by imprisonment in cell, compound or cage
or the threat of facing zealotry’s cruel rage.

Some of us are lucky in the details of our birth:
our health, our parents  and our looks–our beauty and our girth,
but most of all the place that we are given on this earth.

There are others not so lucky, born to famine and to drought
or to repressive governments where those who have the clout
give no room for self-expression or enquiry or doubt.

This is where it takes pure nerve to stand up to the strong
who’ve exercised the cruelty of power for so long
to say at threat of life and limb what you feel is wrong.

I say these things in safety from a place that is secure.
I need not rage in silence.  I need not be demure
or face punishment for thoughts that others deem impure.

I’m lucky in the problems that I face from day to day,
for nothing that I want to drink or wear or do or say
is labeled with a “thou shalt not” or listed as a “Nay.”

I admire those who have the courage and the verve
to speak truth as they see it and face the cruel blade’s curve,
for I admit I have neither the valor nor the nerve!

Version 2

(For Raif Badawi– sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashings for writing his beliefs on his blog and Ali Mohamed al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaherall minors sentenced  to death by beheading simply for attending demonstrations.  Incredible to realize I would be put to death for what I am saying right now if I lived in Saudi Arabia or Egypt.)