Poetry

Dear Friends,
On these pages are poems the People's Tribune has published over the years. Enjoy!
To submit a poem for consideration, please contact us at info@peoplestribune.org
The Editors

Roses on a fence
On June Teenth, roses are left on fence surrounding burial ground for enslaved people in St. James, Louisiana on land where a petrochemical complex is being built. Communities in the area, "Cancer Alley," have a high rate of cancer and continue to fight these companies. Photo/Follow juliedermansky.com

certain hungry ones  Click on title arrow

September 2020

certain hungry ones
have the gift of
turning crumbs
into meals
and sharing them

THE YOUNG ARCANE  Click on title arrow

July 2020

First it was, like a bat
out of hell, “I can’t breathe!”
and tens, then hundreds
then hundreds of thousands
died because they couldn’t.

A WOMAN  Click on title arrow

July 2020

About 50
with a kerchief
and her left-fist full
of handkerchief she’s pushing

A regular fixture  Click on title arrow

January 2019

A regular fixture:
A hefty bag
Of her belongings
And a cushion to sit on
Around the corner

I Know Her from the Neighborhood  Click on title arrow

November 2018

She is your mother and my mother too
I know her from the neighborhood
She phones her son through the jailhouse glass
I know her from the neighborhood
She lies awake til her daughters come home
I know her from the neighborhood

Sweep Up  Click on title arrow

November 2018

sweep up
from
.
the southern
latitudes
.
tides of
the human

The ‘Tears of Hate’ Arcane  Click on title arrow

October 2018

My tears last night
seeing my brothers
and sisters in GI Jews
were not only theirs
shed 73 years ago
outside liberated nazi
concentration camps,

“I am and will be Other”  Click on title arrow

October 2018

“I am and will be Other, until I write you into my heart and make you see my home as what it is. Just another extension of your own home. For there is no them; there is …

Poem from “Streetscene”  Click on title arrow

August 2018

I’d like to see capital
with lacerated knees crawling
from one reality to another
for a change.

Untitled  Click on title arrow

June 2018

hungry
homeless
need you
on a sign

NOW, THE RESISTANCE  Click on title arrow

May 2018

In the most powerful nation
on earth, a flame
of fascistic fervor is taking hold,
fueled by privileges, corruption
and greed.

The Kids Heard the Sound  Click on title arrow

April 2018

  The kids heard the sound Looking all around Suddenly blood on the ground Time to make a change She’s only seventeen But I’m listening Time to make a change Her best friend died She was buried today Only sixteen …

visionary  Click on title arrow

April 2018

he has his precious
stash of books

out on the pavement
in the cold night

Now let’s go  Click on title arrow

March 2018

Now let’s go
But we can’t go
Backwards

New Year Supermoon  Click on title arrow

February 2018

So full
so close
to the Earth
Bigger brighter
lightening the darkness
now slowly waning

Let There Be Respite  Click on title arrow

November 2017

Comes November rain.
HERE/THERE WITHER/WHERE? IN/OUT?
Streets. Doorways. Sidewalks.

Peace over piece  Click on title arrow

October 2017

The tension is depressin
Others hold the same aggression
Ain’t no telling but accepted as a life lesson
They say the root of all evil is dinero
Poverty terror …

Cooperation  Click on title arrow

October 2017

Rise above the beastly nature
Be the human that you are
The struggle of endless competition
Ends in ultimate ruin
Resources depleted
Fertile ground left sterile …

the cart he pushes  Click on title arrow

October 2017

the cart he pushes
has a full load
.
but his sad eyes
are as blue as the light
on a silvery sea

psalm 137  Click on title arrow

October 2017

under the viaducts
by the waters of Uptown
that’s where we sat down
and we remembered Zion …

Too Old Young Men  Click on title arrow

September 2017

We’re a couple of too old young men
Who keep going back, again and again
Calling each other on the phone
Time’s passed, neither leave it alone

THE WAY IT IS  Click on title arrow

August 2017

J.W. told me tonight
that Mitch the Chipewa
died two nights ago.
“Over-exposure and drink.
39 years old.” “And he had
a bad ticker,” said Gyzmo’s

The Night  Click on title arrow

August 2017

The night had no effect
passing into dusk,
sleep comes abrupt,
detachment
kept from the dreamer.
Weaving without strings

Ghosts  Click on title arrow

August 2017

You keep burying it
Deeper
Encased in flimsy
Coffins
Away from the people
That you love

a nest  Click on title arrow

August 2017

a nest
of newspapers
in a niche
*
to lay
the head

why?  Click on title arrow

July 2017

why can’t he sit inside
who found a cup with
a little coffee in it
and settled into
the cafe armchair?

Homeless, Not Hopeless  Click on title arrow

May 2017

Sitting in my tent
More time spent
Defending
Pretending
Everything’s just okay

Bees  Click on title arrow

May 2017

Lead in Flint water
Poison in Syrian air
Cancer in the dirt,
Cancer on the airwaves,
Tumors in the White House.

A whole lot of wildness  Click on title arrow

April 2017

Of living
It’s best to stay expressive than to hold in
We know the path our roots the inconvenient
So why trash the gift given
From Ancestors to give

Santa Ana Riverbed  Click on title arrow

April 2017

Take a walk along the river’s trail, move the tents to no avail
Little do they realize, each is a house for a pair of eyes
Will they ever realize?
Or continue spreading more lies

women all  Click on title arrow

April 2017

women all
along Drumm St
now young and old
girls with their
sleeping dogs

We all know  Click on title arrow

April 2017

We all know it takes a whole lot of wildness
For pain to gain and conquer the mind
To keep it thoughtless
Throughout its time
Of living

REFUGEES  Click on title arrow

March 2017

Amici, friends, immigrants,
welcome to the land of broken hearts.
Your heart is – for different reasons,
or the same as mine – broken.

Student poem  Click on title arrow

February 2017

They try to fit us into the mold of the perfect student.
They try to create the leaders we already have in the new
generation. But don’t they see they aren’t working with the
generations now? We’re not the same.

The American Nightmare  Click on title arrow

February 2017

Welcome to the
“America dream”, where
the President uses drones
to kill people, …

gypsy woman  Click on title arrow

February 2017

gypsy woman
went downstairs
into the station with
her cardboard sign

“Let it bleed”  Click on title arrow

January 2017

I’m from the boondocks
An iron city full of rum and drugs
South Central slums no fun is where I’m spawning from
The 90’s unwind me to the time these Devils tried to blind me
my opponent is myself and only i can define me
I experienced the streets

A Student Deferred  Click on title arrow

January 2017

What happens to a student deferred?
does she give up
like there’s nothing left?
or does she keep going –
cuz its fun?
does she try her hardest to pass?

AS REV. PINKNEY DREAMS  Click on title arrow

January 2017

Sleep falls hard under woolen blankets.
The day not cradled by a temporary small steel cot.
So much to set down, people to write.

Mni Wiconi: Water Is Life  Click on title arrow

January 2017

On cold flat North Dakota land
They rise in protest
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation
Burn sage and sing out
Will a pipeline steal
Across Standing Rock?

” Infected Souls”  Click on title arrow

December 2016

For plenty of years we’ve been oppressed, with drugs and violence
Day and night, all i seem to hear is sirens
Knocking on my drums as i walk and stomp the slums
Breathing the rhythm as i kick and rock the funk

What Happened?  Click on title arrow

November 2016

I remember when teachers and students looked forward to school,
We thought it was cool.

What happened?
The government corrupted;
Budget cutting.

We have budget cuts  Click on title arrow

September 2016

We have budget cuts
Schools getting shut down
teachers getting cut
Not enough books go
Home …

very poor  Click on title arrow

August 2016

very poor
written small
on a scrap
of poor cardboard …

Live Community Culture  Click on title arrow

June 2016

A spectre haunts the Americas, a spectre composed of millions of artivists who have united to rescue communities from the attacks of the corporative …

The Contradiction  Click on title arrow

June 2016

The Contradiction
They have endless money for war
And military expedition,
But no clean water for the poor
Poisoned people of Flint Michigan?

The Magnificent Mile  Click on title arrow

June 2016

Sign says:
Homeless. Need haircut.
Job. Train pass.
Sign says:
Homeless. Need food.
Medicine. Lost everything.

Flowers in Hell  Click on title arrow

May 2016

Of course
there are flowers in hell.
Some people smell them every day.
The blossoms of bigotry

i call god people  Click on title arrow

April 2016

i call god people,
nature, earth,
justice, peace,
revolution,

do you remember when  Click on title arrow

February 2016

do you remember when
they called a blanket
and a piece of cardboard
a structure?

cold rain  Click on title arrow

February 2016

cold rain
here you come again
and my friends’ shoes not dry
from the last one

Moral Mondays  Click on title arrow

December 2015

The church folk are gathering on Mondays now.
Have you seen them?
Marching through downtown,
Linking arms outside the Board of Trade to block the entrances,
Shutting down business as usual,

I slept three hours  Click on title arrow

December 2015

I slept three hours
on the BART train
last night he said
to keep warm …

Poet to the Poor  Click on title arrow

November 2015

Who will be the poet to the poor
For the abused, used, confused
Who aren’t even aware
They have a hope and a prayer
Who will be the poet to the poor

Portrait of Nelson Peery  Click on title arrow

October 2015

With a small stick he worked the grains of wheat
out of the cracks between the rotten boards
of the boxcar floor flying through the Depression
and built a little mountain of them in his palm,

Upon Reading “Man With the Hoe”  Click on title arrow

October 2015

Strangling in the muck of history. He leans against the tavern wall. And silently gazes across the Avenue. Where watchdogs of property. With vulture eyes …

Everything  Click on title arrow

October 2015

I am reminded again
as though I didn’t know
down in the broken
homeless camps
down at the curb

Don’t Shoot  Click on title arrow

October 2015

1999
Amadou Diallo
Twenty-three years old
Guinean immigrant in the Bronx,
New York.
His name rolls off the tongue
Like waves rising from the port of Conakry

The Coat  Click on title arrow

August 2015

I paw through the table of give away
coats. One cloth number tempts me
to smile. insisting as it does on polished
pews and woolen pedigrees. I’m trying

The Truth  Click on title arrow

June 2015

Let’s consider the truth:
The biggest gang in the world
is the police.
Our tax dollars pay for
no justice and no peace.

The Margins of Society  Click on title arrow

June 2015

“I can’t help but notice all of those people
sitting over there for a very long time.
Doesn’t it bother you?”
I glance at all of the people sitting

Working class poem  Click on title arrow

April 2015

I was born
Free and penniless
And just like you
They have been robbing me …

Tea with Joe Hill  Click on title arrow

April 2015

Joe Hill and I had tea
He let his biscuits soak
They say America is free
Man how they love to joke
Ask Sacco and Vanzetti

“Service Please”  Click on title arrow

March 2015

Don’t ask me why I took it there
Because I didn’t
This capitalist system put me
In this predicament
At the bottom of the pyramid
A second to last class citizen

Waiting: (Jan. 3, 2015)  Click on title arrow

February 2015

On a cold, puddle-filled night
some folks wait for a bus
under the shelter of a train station. …

Peace Poem  Click on title arrow

February 2015

Face your pale peace
And you’ll wish
That Your blood
Had been alive
In your silent
Rattlesnake throat…

flame  Click on title arrow

November 2014

last year this time
sleeping out there
he was so cold he dreamed
he’d spontaneously combusted

The Gleam  Click on title arrow

October 2014

“There’s a gleam comin’ through,”
you said that day
with your arm held up
and your eyes fixed straight

DIEGO DELEO  Click on title arrow

September 2014

An 80 year-old
compagno poet,
same age as me
but victimof that
horrific Ellis Act
is Diego Deleo. …

dream  Click on title arrow

August 2014

I dreamed my young homeless friends
were squatting a FEMA camp
making it no longer a prison
but a decent place to live
sharing their food and dreams

Prayer for Passover (April 14, 2014)  Click on title arrow

June 2014

I passed over twelve destitute today:

homeless on the street,
some with signs, some with cups,
some shaking, some sleeping,
some black, some white,
some men, some women,
all hungry.

No Sleep for the Poor  Click on title arrow

May 2014

No sleep for the poor.
Only sleep for the rich.

*
As people walk,
as people ignore, …

American Slaves  Click on title arrow

April 2014

Welcome to America
where corporations are people,
money talks, the government poisons …

In crying out  Click on title arrow

March 2014

I have learned not to scream
but chant, in vibration
with my heart
the earth

The New Klan  Click on title arrow

November 2013

discarding the sheets
they wore at night
opting in stead for the clean shaven head

Hire Scabs to Replace Congress!  Click on title arrow

October 2013

During the government shutdown this October, the American public made the radical decision to hire scabs to replace the US Congress.

Trayvon  Click on title arrow

September 2013

do we let them
murder our future?
do we let them
arm us with fear …

A Fallen Leaf  Click on title arrow

September 2013

Like a fallen leaf o a Fall day
Trayvon Martin lies on the ground
Dead of a bullet
Fired by a man who chased him for being young, black and …

Oscar  Click on title arrow

September 2013

How do I explain to my three year old why im marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she aint seen me all week …

BINGO  Click on title arrow

September 2013

N-53 … G-60
B-37: Not Guilty.
His heart was in the right place,
beating in his chest,
right where it should be,

Untitled ….GP  Click on title arrow

September 2013

I think ya betta sit back and pleeeeeeeaaaaaaseee watch.
Like a burned movie
Theeeeeeeeese cops.
Before you find yourself
encaotured in chains

Mama, I Can’t Sleep  Click on title arrow

July 2013

In my dark and lonely fight, when all I have is just my right.
Who knows the truth, and if they care, to take my burden or just share …

art  Click on title arrow

July 2013

I have to break a coin and a tattered bill
to squeeze some cheese from it and some bread
that is my art form now: there’s no fooling it …

Sing A Song  Click on title arrow

May 2013

early morning
sun in the sky
big yellow bird
pulls up to the front walk
and the doors open
and a song
falls down the stairs

Hard Lessons  Click on title arrow

May 2013

In reality
It feels like school’s against me
Cus no matter what I know,
If I don’t pass that test
Then they won’t let me go.
And if I’m not on time
No matter what’s going on in my life

flame  Click on title arrow

April 2013

last year this time
sleeping out there
he was so cold he dreamed

Obama’s Inaugural II  Click on title arrow

March 2013

There were politicians, poets, puffery, promises, the public,
The holy, rich and powerful were there. School kids, scarred
Veterans of last week’s, current and far away years’
Social, political and martial wars. Choirs, cheers, bands,
The press, ruffles and flourishes of rhetoric.

Once More, Ayibobo!  Click on title arrow

March 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — On the eve of the 3rd anniversary of one of the most horrific earthquakes in modern times, in which more that 220,000 Haitians lost their lives, the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco held a fundraising …

Poetry: Free / Angry Eyes / Students Test Us  Click on title arrow

March 2013

Free

Mental health clinics
closed. Forced to fight our demons
in the streets. Again.
Angry Eyes

My angry eyes brim
With women searching dumpsters
For capital’s crumbs.

Life suicided, Life sentenced  Click on title arrow

March 2013

Life suicided, Life sentenced

I expect you recently read
that more American soldiers
—men and women both—
killed themselves
in Afghanistan last year
than were killed in physical
combat in the war there.

100 thousand Poets: Poetry demonstrates its power  Click on title arrow

March 2013

The Movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change Stays Vibrantly Alive   SANTA ROSA, CA—The global movement of cultural activists calling themselves 100 Thousand Poets for Change is not waiting for its annual weekend of events in September. Instead, it is …

Vision of Technology  Click on title arrow

February 2013

If technology could
If it were in the people’s control
It could provide the means
For industry to work
Without the stress
So many laborers endure
On the assembly line

Synchronicity  Click on title arrow

January 2013

SYNCHRONICITY (Progressive Collective Unconscious) Carl Jung Robert Bly Perfect Strength Meeting of the minds On the same page Birds of a feather Under the same umbrella The big tent In sync e.g. Anti-Imperialism Environmentally friendly world Comprehensive health care, human …

When society, as a whole, is oppressed:  Click on title arrow

January 2013

* The act of rebellion is the only true sign of intelligence.
* The course of love is driven to resonate from its core, humans being humane to each other. …