Commentary and Philosophy Poetry posted March 4, 2018

This work has reached the exceptional level
Upon experiencing the heart of John Steinbeck country...

We're Still Here, John

by Mrs. KT


We’re still here, John.
Thousands of us.
“The Man” still exists, John.
But so do we.
Every morning as the fog lifts
over the Gabilan Range,
and sunlight breaks through to the
fields and farmlands of Salinas Valley,
you can still find us:
A serpentine mass of
steel, glass, and rubber solidarity
parked - bumper to bumper -
all along the highways and bi-ways
of the land you loved.
You can’t miss us, John.
Start at Watsonville.
Then take your time 
as you make your way down
on those winding, slow moving roads to
Moss Landing,
If you have time,
swing over to Gilroy or Hollister.
Hell, John,
Monterey County,
if not the whole country,
still needs us.
That’s what we don’t understand.
Who’s going to do what we do?
We are the heartbeat of 
these fields of perfectly planted
rows upon rows of
It hasn’t been easy, John.
The work is grueling.
The work is back-breaking.
The work is dirty.
So dirty.
The dust and grime seep into the 
very fiber of our souls.
But it's the words, John.
The words still hurt the most:
“Field Rat”
“Brown Tractor”
We don’t even flinch anymore.
Sometimes we laugh.
Sometimes we swear under our breaths.
Sometimes we pretend we don't hear.
And now "The Man" has new
ammunition to throw our way:
“Border Baby”
“Fence Fairy”
But “The Man” ~~
Sometimes he looks away when he sees us down in Salinas town.
Sometimes he almost acts like he understands.
Maybe he does.
Maybe he doesn't.
What does it matter, John?
We need to eat.
We need to live.
We need to survive.
There’s nothing else we can do, John.
We’re still poor, John.
Some of us are dirt poor.
Some of us still camp out
in trucks or on hillsides;
we're not fooling anybody...
But today, more than a few of us own our homes and cars.
Our children go to school now, John.
Not in some shack by the fields
or under some lopsided outside tent.
Real school.
Real teachers.
And you know something, John?
One thing "The Man" never took
from us is our "esperanza;"
nobody can break us
if we have hope.
What did Ma Joad say?
"Why, we’re the people…we go on."
We keep going, John.
Nothing is going to stop us, John.
Not poverty
Not "The Man"
Not even a wall...
We just keep going on, John.
We just keep going on...



Free Verse Poetry Contest contest entry


D.H. Lawrence wrote: "Art-speech is the only truth. An artist is usually a damned liar, but his art, if it be art, will tell you the truth of his day."

The American writer, John Steinbeck, (1902 - 1968), was indeed, an artist who not only told the truth of his day, he exposed the truth in all of its rawness and brutality. Of particular, he wrote of the disenfranchised, the laborer, the common man.
I became a student of John Steinbeck's works years ago as a high school student. His writings and social commentaries took on greater import in college as I majored in both sociology and English, and I attempted to understand the America, if not the world, I was soon to enter as an adult: a society of poverty, social injustice, racism, stereotypes, the mistreatment of minorities...
One of my life-long dreams was to travel to Salinas, California, and not only visit his hometown and museum, but attempt to get a sense of the people and the land of whom he loved and of which he wrote.
I realized my dream, and this poem is the result of what I saw and what I felt in the heart of Salinas Valley, California.
John Steinbeck's truth lives on... diane kenel-truelove 3/1/2018

The Ma Joad quote: Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939.

Urban Dictionary: The Man Man
The Man is the head of "the establishment" put in place to "bring us down."

Free Verse: Minimal Punctuation
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