Darius Bashara Out of Focus.jpg

Lines for Tom Joad's Ghost

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.