Lines for Tom Joad's Ghost

Poet: Jack Bedell

You tell me. How am I supposed

        to show my sons and daughter

                      how dangerous it is to stare


into the flames? They look up

        from their Roblox and Minecraft games

                  just in time to see a man


stomped out on the TV, a child

         maced by a cop while standing 

                      on the sidewalk, SUVs


driving into desperate crowds,

       or set on fire in the middle

                  of intersections we’ve crossed


together. The flames dance.

         They spread warmth, embrace 

                      communities, turn whole 


city blocks into campsites.

       So tell me, please. How do I keep my kids 

                   from reaching out their hands?

Jack Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Cotton Xenomorph, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, Kissing Dynamite, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.