Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


by Ian Patrick Williams

We fought the British army to create a new democracy
But it turned out just to be a lesson in hypocrisy
Instead of having freedom in the new Home of the Brave
All the Founding Fathers got to hold on to their slaves.
So as our brand new nation was then starting to be shaped
African-Americans faced lynching or were raped
Abolitionists did what they could to raise a legal fight
But all the slavers said it was a matter of state’s rights.
Dred Scott escaped into the North and thought that he was free
His owner followed, claiming he was just some property
The Court agreed and sent him back, said he was not a man
And all the racists cheered: it was the Law of the Land.

The population grew and so the pioneers moved West
Looking for whatever land might suit their interests best
Killing all the Native tribes wherever they would go
They found themselves in what was then called Northern Mexico
From Texas, Arizona, all the way to California
They turned their guns on Mexicans and said, “We gotta warn ya
That it’s time for all you brown-skinned folk to cross the Rio Grande.
This is white people country, that’s the Law of the Land.”

The Civil War was fought and won and stopped the South’s secession
But they simply organized a new form of repression
The Jim Crow laws would still repress the black community
But that was not the only form of inequality
Only men would have a say in forming legislation
Women couldn’t vote, though they were half the population.
The Suffragettes went marching, but the men said they were wrong
“Go back into the kitchen; that’s where all of you belong.
To vote requires mental work, you couldn’t understand.
Only men can vote ‘cause that’s the Law of the Land.”

The fight went on for years and years till Civil Rights could pass
We thought we had equality for every single class
But greedy corporations came up with a new solution:
They’d simply buy up all new laws with campaign contributions.
Crush the unions, cut their taxes, only pay low wage
And sure enough they had themselves another Gilded Age
With ever-growing profits, keeping all that they could get
Dumping on us peons twenty trillion dollars debt
The one-percenters cheered themselves and said, “Oh, ain’t it grand
When all us billionaires can buy the Laws of the Land!”

This struggle for control goes on, we’ve seen it all before
Deregulation, planned recessions, Middle Eastern war
All designed to line the pockets of the profiteers
The money-grubbing warmongers who’ve ripped us off for years.
There’s only one way out of living under their command
We have to come together and united, take a stand
We cannot have democracy until we all demand
That only We the People make the Laws of the Land.

Ian Patrick Williams won the Chicago Emmy award for co-authoring the teleplay Bleacher Bums for PBS-TV; the script was later purchased and produced as a M.O.W. by Showtime. He has also written and directed seven One Act plays for young people that toured Los Angeles Unified School District schools through the not-for-profit firm Enrichment Works. His one-act play "Provenance" was produced last year at Ensemble Studio Theater.