An Illiterate’s Rhetoric

I am Hungry and Tired!

For I seldom get two square meals a day,

and I know not the feeling of a warm bed.


I am Weak and in Pain!

I am aware of the open wound on my left foot,

and I know not the difference between cold and wet!


I will outlet my anger as I deem fit!

For I can see the bones jutting out of my New Born,

and I don’t have the liberty to mourn or regret.


My pockets are empty!

For I am certain to have a waste of most of my days,

and I seldom get a handful of grain for a whole day’s sweat!


Do not run over me!

For I often have sky for a ceiling.

and I pray not falling of my seldom sheds.


I wish I wasn’t guilty!

But I steal and kill if I have no choice,

,and I beg and borrow if I select.


I will stand in the rain!

for I do not try to fit in as I know I’ll be banished!

and I can’t afford to stand up to the rules they set!


I must be Illiterate!

for it doesn’t read right what they ask to read between the lines

,but I believe what they say for they know best.


But Sometimes I wonder

Is it my hunger that makes me weak or do my weaknesses keep me hungry?

Am I weak coz I know not how to demand what I deserve?

Does my ignorance provoke me to the rage I resort to?

Does my lack of a pen make a perpetual hole in my pockets?

Don’t I deserve to make a shed that won’t fall?

Am I guilty for I am easy to be played to be so?

Do I stand in the rain just for the lack of my knowledge of the right paths?



Well, then I really must be Illiterate

For even when I wonder,

I can only see my mind make an Illiterate rhetoric

,and know not how to answer the life’s test.


This poem is to spread awareness about the hardships that millions of people around the world have to face due to their inability to read and write. They have to bear Poverty, Long Term Illnesses, Social Exclusion, and Crime just because of their lack of awareness and and inability to protect themselves and demand their own basic rights.

With Love

Shivani Ahuja

I am doing a 30 Days series of Poems on ‘Humanity’.. This is my poem for Day 7

It is inspired by NaPoWriMo‘s prompt of writing a rhetorical poem.


5 thoughts on “An Illiterate’s Rhetoric

  1. brian miller

    Is it my hunger that makes me weak or do my weaknesses keep me hungry?

    intriguing question…and a sad reality for many…of course many say it is their fault, its easy to lay blame than fix and having a reason for it also makes it easier to exist with…nice piece…

  2. Mary

    Shivani, this is a very, very moving poem. So true that illiteracy leads to greater and greater hardships. Sometimes it is hard to know if the hardships cause the illiteracy or the illiteracy causes the hardships. But whatever way it is, we in the world need to work hard to solve the problem starting in our own home towns….where the problem exists….somewhere.

  3. othermary

    Not only is this poem powerful, but kudos for doing the 30 day series on Humanity. Your lines that I find especially moving are, “and I know not the difference between cold and wet!” and,”I must be Illiterate!/ for it doesn’t read right what they ask to read between the lines”

  4. Justin Dee Huskey

    Very honest and powerful message here. It most certainly should cause those who see life as a glass half-full as well as those who see it as a glass half-empty to consider themselves lucky that they have a glass at all. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt piece.


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