The Woke Man’s Person’s Burden

“Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.”

—Thomas Sowell

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__Be one of the elite—
Go fight for Social Justice,
__On keyboards, in the street.
To serve the disadvantaged,
__Is such a noble choice—
Alone they have no power,
__But you can give them voice!

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__A vow of poverty,
As jobs are hard to come by
__With some odd niche degree.
Yet with a cause so righteous—
__So many lives to save—
It’s worth it, though the debt
__May follow to the grave.

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__Prepare a careful mind—
The scourge of racist systems
__Is often hard to find;
Yet grounded in good theory
__Offenses will appear,
Till slights the commoners can’t see
__To you will show quite clear.

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__Step with an urgent stride—
For subtle hateful language
__Can’t be allowed to slide;
There’s violence in a pronoun,
__The use of a dead name,
So, banning toxic diction
__Must surely be your aim.

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__The tolerance crusade jihad—
Though your aim be raise the Peace,
__You must not spare the rod;
For foes will strive against you,
__The Fascists and Alt-Right,
As well as Christian bigots,
__Against whom you must fight!

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__A battle for the strong:
The enemy’s well-funded,
__A capitalist throng.
So, you’ll be blamed for violence
__All done in self-defense—
Their presence is incitement,
__Deserving consequence.

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__In service to our God State—
Lest rebel cooks and florists
__Suffuse our world with hate.
Engineer an ideal world
__Where all love is esteemed,
Except Christian tradition,
__Which ne’er can be redeemed.

Take up the Woke Man’s Person’s burden—
__Bring darkness to the light!
For unless you blaze their trail,
__The plebs won’t know what’s right.
As Equity’s apostle,
__You’ll also merit praise—
The cause of Social Justice
__In many respects, pays.




1. “the state or fact of being a person.”

“Person,” it seems, is an elusive word,
Though I am rather puzzled as to why.
Isn’t membership in the human herd
Sufficient cause to make that term apply?
Apparently not. Many will dispute,
Saying a “person” must do that or this,
Look a certain way; life alone is moot
If any standard markers are amiss.
But since these self-styled experts don’t agree
On what constitute those minimum traits,
Should we define with ambiguity?
I fear we’re playing gods with people’s fates—
Personhood can’t be some subjective prize,
Earned through the fickle measures men devise.




Ron L. Hodges is an English teacher and poet who lives in Orange County, California. His works have appeared in The Road Not Taken, Ancient Paths, Calvary Cross, and The Society of Classical Poets Journal 2015 and 2016. He won the Society’s prestigious Annual Poetry Competition in 2016.

NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.

5 Responses

  1. Steve Shaffer

    The Woke Person’s Burden — perfect!
    Flows well, great point, and and LOVE the use of the strike-outs.
    Thanks for writing it.

  2. Stephen Hagerman

    Mr. Hodges, an interesting sonnet in loose iambic tetrameter. Personally I think that “personhood” is an innocuous term and does me no harm, but it is pointless to distinguish it from humankind. Whether we speak of apples, or oranges, we speak of fruit. And opinion seems to be at the fruit of this poem. There are a couple of issues you might want to consider here, that I feel I should point out. Using “human herd” to mean “humankind” in L3 is not a realistic term. Humans are not antelope grassing on the plains of the Serengeti . the correct term, of course, is human beings. To offer this awkward term in order to make a rhyme forces the line. In L9 the use of “constitute” in Grammarly incorrect. A singular subject requires a singular verb. I believe you mean “constitutes” Other than that this was an enjoyable take on whether or not we are deemed human. Often I am given pause to ponder that question myself.

    • Ron

      Stephen, thanks for the comment. The idea of personhood is not innocuous since the differentiation between mere biological humans and “persons” is used by pro-choice bioethicists to justify abortion. I recommend Nancy Pearcey on this argument. As for”herd,” with respect, you may be reading too literally. Poets use the connotation of words for a purpose, as I do here. Take care!

  3. C.B. Anderson

    Ron L., I’m surprised that you still have license to teach in the State of California, since you dare speak the truth. Oddly, my mind tends to metathesize the first two syllables of your name when I read it, rendering it “Elron,” who was the leader of the Rivendell Elves in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. This shouldn’t bother you, since I find your observations Gandalfian in the broader scheme of things. Irony is the iron of sarcasm. You have faced the enemy and stood them on their heels, soundly routed in full retreat.

  4. Dave Whippman

    “The Woke Person’s Burden” is a cleverly written and bitingly realistic piece.


Leave a Reply to C.B. Anderson Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.