Protest Poems

The Cycle

The heat wakes him,

reminding him of the work ahead in the cacao trees,

the long hours

in the hot sun.

The sweat runs down his forehead.

Sometimes he wants to stop working

because it would be easier,

but when he walks through the door

he can hear his son's voice

as he tells and retells stories of his day at school,

what he learned,

what he liked,

what he didn’t like.

This was his life,

everyday, wake up, work, come home.

One day, the cycle stopped.

He didn’t wake up.


His wife and son cried

and without his income,

his son had to quit school.

His wife grieved and cried

and she knew her son couldn’t get an education now,

but she wanted him to stay

and the day he told her,

he was leaving to go to the big city he said,

“I am a little boy, but I can fight for you, so don’t worry.

Mommy, I will be leaving tomorrow morning.”

and she replied,

“Son, goodbye. May God take you there.”

In the heat of the morning,

the son walked out the door,

got on a train,

and left towards the big city.



She nevers looks to the back of the classroom

where I hide behind the girl’s ponytail.

The smart kids sit in the first row.

I guess it’s good I hide because  

in second grade

the moment she called on me

my heart sped up.

“Read the page, please.”

I couldn’t do it.

The words blurred together,

and the blackness filled the page.

Anxiety got the best of me.

I couldn’t speak.

I learned to look like everyone else.

I could do what the other kids did,

until the day I had to read to a kindergartner.

She complained at my lack of fluency.

She corrected my pronunciation and grammar.

At that moment I realized,

I was worse than a kindergartener,

and no one cared.



parched mouth

empty stomach

cold nights

hard work

day after day

always tired



My inspiration for the poems comes from these two true stories.

The Regents of the University of Michigan
“Success Story: Alison”
Dyslexia Help
May 18th 2015

Isaac Akwabeng
“Poor Boy: A True Story”
Saturday, June 26, 2010
May 18th 2015