Joe Gallenstein

Joe Gallenstein

Kenton County

Not a Poplar Poem


Black Eyed Susans

Maters and Taters

A few things from my mother’s garden




A few things from my wife’s childhood

Cotton and Tobacco

Made the economy go round

Robbing people of their health

While giving a few people great wealth

I’d rather have a garden

Strawberries, corn, and string beans

Honeybees and honeydews

More than enough for me and you.


Pro-Life People

Working on their excuses

For why they are always

Practicing their nooses.

All life has value

Is an important lesson

But too many variables show

The value of life seems to lessen

The darker your skin

The older you get

The less you earn

Or if we’ve never met

Excuses come flowing

Like drinking from a firehose

Drowning out the value

From the lives of “those”

“Not an angel”

They said

Pointing to parking ticket

Still unpaid

“Don’t run if you didn’t do something wrong”

Playing in their mind scenes from a movie

Cops and robbers and hide and seek

Life is just a game to them.

“Why were they there?”

Said a man who 20 years earlier

Walked around without fear

Exploring something just because it was there.

“We must think of the economy”

No matter the human cost

To strengthen the dollar

Before its value is lost!

If life has inherent value

Then what does it matter

Where they came from

Or what they earned?

It’s Not Me, It’s You

We’ve come to say

You need to get out of the way

With Love, Kentucky

You’re prioritizing corporate profits

Over workers’ needs

You’ve cut our relief

So, we’ve come to say…

It’s not me, it’s you

With Love, Kentucky

We need unemployment

Rent relief

And housing protection

Funding for schools

And for pensions

And a living wage

So, we’ve come to say..

it’s not me, it’s you

With Love, Kentucky

Safe in our homes

Means statewide renter protections

And that no-knocks are gone

Safe in our full-selves

Natural hair and our authentic pronouns

Learning our full history

But because you won’t do that

We’ve come to say

We’re breaking up with you.

We’ll say again

It’s not me, it’s you

With Love, Kentucky

The World

Sometimes the world aches

And you can’t help but hurt too.

Sometimes the world burns

And you can feel the fire.

Other times the world aches

But it’s just another day.

The world is on fire

But yours is cold and gray.

You become numb to the pain

The suffering.

Leaving it all behind.

But the ashes that have smoldered

Soon will reignite

A phoenix of emotion 

Joins the world anew

To purchase this piece or support this artist, contact them below.

About Joe Gallenstein

Joe is a lifetime Kentucky resident, and has been a member of KFTC since being a student at the University of Kentucky. Currently he's an organizer with KFTC out of the Covington office, and works closely with members in the Northern Kentucky and Rolling Bluegrass chapters. 

He lives in Covington with his wife Alex, their two children (Dylan and Ella), three cats (Frodo, Gimli, and Spike), and dog (Flash).