Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Grapes of Wrath" by John Reinhart, Frequent Contributor

Grapes of Wrath
John Reinhart

zombies on tractors pushed people off the land – no use
shooting one tractor driver because the undead feel
no pain. Casy understood the principle that everything,
from turtles to Pluto is part of one big soul, sinfree
and virtueless, just doing that thing called life.

Ma knew the importance of power in numbers, wielding
a jack handle against wraiths and harpies, but she couldn’t keep
the sacrificial lamb or Judas from wagging tongues, and alone
Tom stood firm to face the hordes, transformed
under the light of California’s full moon, howling, hungry.

Poet's Notes:  I have taught a course on The Grapes of Wrath most of the nine years I have been teaching. The book is poetry to me, and I relish the four weeks I get to reread and re-experience. The last couple of years, though, the students have struggled to engage with the book. The slow pace, the difficult language, the un-Twitter-like repetition, the lack of hash tags, the increased distance from the Great Depression, the improved economy, the availability of SparkNotes online, ThugNotes on YouTube, even the movie is in black and white and from 1940.... Who knows? But what if the story were more engaging?

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