Fighting poverty with poetry

Call for poems by Lorenzo de’ Medici school

Editorial Staff
December 4, 2014

Florence-based school Lorenzo de' Medici recently held The Steps to Happiness event, organized by students in the Event Planning class. The event sought to create awareness of the link between education and the eradication of poverty by supporting Oxfam’s new campaign Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality. Students wrote poems to inspire young people to join Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s important cause to provide access to education for all.   The contest was won by Katelin Pierce with her poem "Elephantmen."  


by Katelin Pierce


Elephantmen are creatures

with big ears and little eyes

who can hear but not understand

and only see in straight little lines.

With their big meaty hands

that wave wildly through the air,

parroting all the phrases they heard in childhood

and they have brains that have have walls and floors

with room to live

but no doors that lead inside.

And these elephantmen know many large words

with very little substance inside.


and they touch

this heart of ours

that beats so fragile

yet so powerful. And with which

we touch the world -

a world ruled by the elephantmen.

Inside and out, their ugliness does not coincide

with their



They spread their seed through our ears

and to our brains,

eating neurons and pions alike,

and they send their roots

down our spinal cords

to wrap around our hearts,

infiltrating ventricles on their way,

sending blood flow to…

certain extremities,

slowly draining the life out of our brain.

Then tying us up with string,

to puppet their, and everyone elses’, lies.


In the end it’s not us that suffer, or them,

or their children,

who like rocks are sent away to be -

buffed, polished, and shined

til they glow green, like greed.

- It is the little girls (and little boys)

with little moms (and little dads)

who live in little houses in little places

who have little brains, not by choice,

but because they have so much left to learn,

so much space to fill.

Sadley though they have little means to try.

These little girls may have little voices

but they have large hearts and many hands

and they grab all they can of letters and words and ideas

whispered to them in hushed tones.

to hold them up,

then lift, then rise,

and grow tall into willow trees.

The kind that are old, and wise, and kind.

Who spread branches and leaves into canopies,

a place for other little girls to hide.

And in the storm the willow tree bends and sways

but keeps little girls warm and dry inside.

(And when the storms stops, they brush the droplets off

and left little girls out to play)

They speak the words they learned in secret to new little girls,

who have wide eyes and even bigger minds,

in hopes they too will one day be a willow tree.

And elephantmen are left to stomp and shake

and lift their trunks to the sky and pray to a God,

who long ago took to watching the willow trees grow,

and pays them little mind.

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