Five billion people denied real justice*

We must always remind ourselves
That legal systems perform
Exactly as they are designed to
Creating a deadly buffer
Between those who have
Little or nothing
And those who have it all
And will hang onto it
No matter how many
Must suffer and die
To make certain their riches
And powers and privileges
Are safe from dispersal
For the public good.

We must always remind ourselves
That the rich
And the systems that cosset them
Haven’t an inking or a care
About what the rest of us
Call justice
About what the rest of us
Call morality
About what the rest of us
Call right and fair and good
Haven’t an inkling or a care
About children
Enduring the agony of incarcertion
About those wrongly convicted
(They must have done something)
Robbed of their lives and families
About those hastily tried
And eagerly executed

We are aghast at the failures
Of systems of justice
But perhaps the truer failure
Is our imagining that those systems
Are for all of us
The people
Rather than just a few
Of those pornographically wealthy others
Perched atop the profane pyramid
Who have removed themselves
From the family of humanity.

Of course, some never forget
The real story
The poor, minorities
Abused and trafficked women and children
The conquered and the colonized
All have understood in their guts
That the game was rigged against them
And have struggled mightily
For centuries
To unload the dice.
And there have been some small triumphs
For the downtrodden, the beleagured
The oppressed and disregarded
But when we read the papers, watch the news
And check out the Who’s Who
Of the distribution of power
We see that Marie Antoinette
Grows increasingly plump
While the prisons and jails overflow.

* View article here

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.