Poet's Notebook: Injustice in verse

Our columnist finds catharsis in his chosen medium.

click to enlarge Poet's Notebook: Injustice in verse
Jeanne Meinke


On July 24, a federal judge in Detroit continued to block the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals, many of whom are Christians and could face intolerance and even execution should they be returned to their homeland. This week, Florida Poet Laureate and regular CL columnist Peter Meinke turns to poetry to express his reaction to the treatment of immigrants at the hands of the current U.S. administration. —Ed.

“Immigration Arrests Stun Iraqis in Michigan Who Fled Over Christian Faith” 

(Headline in the New York Times, July 5, 2017, pg. 1)


God of our Fathers


In God We Trust may disappoint

Iraqi Christians in Detroit

now getting tossed like bric-a-brac

on boats to Baghdad   an attack

unChristian  mean and paranoid


They trusted us because they joined

and took to heart our bills and coins

that stamp across their front or back

In God We Trust


How can we fight those who exploit

the poor and dispossessed?  Let’s point

ten million fingers at this hack

who grins  and tweets with heart burned black

(then kicks and grabs them in the groin):

‘In God we trust!’


—I’ve been experimenting with old poetic forms, like the villanelle (“One Year Later,” in CL’s June 8 issue) and the rondeau (above), seeing if this would be an effective way to write about politics, tamping down and controlling the anger. This is a Poet’s Notebook, after all. The rondeau’s most famous example is “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae (1872-1918).

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