Protest Poems

The Trade

“The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.” -Unknown

Only one kind of life was familiar,

A life of being mistreated and used.

He was her friend; he understood her problems.

He told her that they could run away, that she could be happy.

She was fourteen and depressed.

She wanted to run to freedom,

but instead she ran into the arms of a greedy man.

Her memory of him was of his blindingly white shoes,

and the cuffs of his suit pants dragging on the ground.

She worked alone on the street until dawn the next day.


Sold and bought, beat and left.

She felt alone and sad, like nobody was good.

Every glimmer of hope was shot down

by the low harsh voice he used,

and the rough impact of his fist.

Working in the day and cowering in the night, she was exhausted.

Why was I put on this Earth to feel miserable? she thought.

She sat against a wall in the dark room, and waited,

too afraid to close her eyes.

One of them was swollen shut.


Her family was living with barely anything

Rice and beans was all they could afford to eat,

maybe bread if they were lucky.

Their house was made of sticks and mud

and slowly falling apart. Her family needed her to work.

She was taken thousands of miles from her country

To a place she knew nothing about.

They needed to make money.

The company forced her to work;

even her family said she had no option.

She was sent to an unfamiliar country

that she knew almost nothing about.

With no knowledge of her rights, she obeyed.

She escaped the trade, but the future still feels dim.

They drained her hope, and now she lives in fear.


Living as a slave for two years.

She was exhausted, but she felt she had no choice.

They told her that her rights no longer applied.

Bought for very little money,

she usually worked eighteen hours a day doing chores.

Her skin was burnt from the harsh sun.

Her hands were callused and ripped.

All she wanted was for someone to save her.

She thought of running away, but was too scared.

Finally she was saved, but the memories still loom,

and the fear has captured her mind.



I remember a year ago,

a women living in the corner of the park.

Her name was Pauline. She had a son.

She used to swear to herself,

and no one knew what about.

Her skin was burnt and cracked from the heat.

She didn’t own many things,

a tarp and sleeping bag.

Her hair was dry and thin, falling out

because she would pull it.

Once a week her son would come by,

eventually she no longer knew who he was

He would try to hug her,

but she would push him off and then run away.

She would swear at him

and tell him to go away

and never come back.

So he never did.

Pauline was alone,

and she talked to herself more and more often.

She would drink more often too.

People would walk by, but usually they crossed the street.

If they accidentally made eye contact they would be quick to break it.

Pauline was lonely. The difference between her thoughts

and reality became blurred.

As she grew older she was seen less and less,

eventually she was gone.

One day, her son came back to the corner in the park.

The grass where his mom laid her sleeping bag was dead.

The son returned everyday to water the grass

and eventually it grew strong again.

Eventually the people who lived near Pauline noticed she was gone.

They held a memorial in the corner in the park.

About twenty people showed up. Not all of them loved her,

but they remembered her,

they respected her.

They set up a small table with a white cloth covering it

in the corner with pictures of Pauline and her son.

The grass growing around it was green and strong.



My inspiration for these poems go to: Holly Austin Smith, Grace _, Natalie_, and Sam_

Richmond Justice Initiative
“Holly Austin Smith”

Survivor Stories
Equality Now

Survivor Stories
“Natalie and Sam”
Equality Now