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America, 1933

They are conflicted haunted images from black and white photos of America 1933, when there was no place left to run. It was the hunger of people lined up, scraps of food ladled out, the street kitchens stretch across the country. Families held together by a single thread of silent prayers, believing the next day will be better, no worse. Men fight ten deep for the chance their name will be yelled out for a one day job. They were called the forgotten men wandering across the land, something they never did before 1933. Clothes hang on them like torn streams of ribbons; belts tied tight holding up baggy pants, newspaper stuffed jackets. Dust creased their lined faces, blown black across the sky turning everything into perpetual night. They exist for each day; moving through and sometimes around every small town, unwelcome mouths to be fed. Everywhere there are broken main streets, boarded up stores, empty movie marquee signs of Hollywood a world away. The movies held out the promise of a dream, as they forgot the empty feeling in their stomach, at least for the afternoon. By now the months reached into years. The years stacked up into each other; a cornerstone built with no end in sight. Words and photographs create a black and white montage of despair and the hope for tomorrow. It was in their eyes. American 1933, another time, just a step around the corner, fall back. II- The Dust Bowl Hard times blew through the screen door, around window panes, stretched out across the flat, dried out land. No rain, no grass, empty wheat fields shrunk down to nothing, as far as the land went and further than the eye could see. A heartless wind coughed up blackened dust, trapped by the whirlwinds of the plains to the distance cities in the East. Dark oceans flood the horizon, the sky choked off. The land transformed clean, every morning, and every day. The black midday sun is plotted out by packed-in dust. The heat built up like the blast furnaces of the giant Pittsburg steel mills. Endless days of wind, dirt turns the hard scrabble people from the farms bitter with disappointment, just surviving. Their dreams tumble in the nightmare of fence lines blown away while endless sand dunes swallow up the top soil. A mountain of dirt overflows everything and anything, until it disappears as if it was never was there. Hard times in America, 1933. Some gave up, moving to dreams awash in the Pacific, others stayed, frozen in place and time. Dust clung to the skin, crusted the eyes, bit the lips, and lodged in the lungs; a coughing disease leaving nothing untouched. Dreams die hard, floor boards torn up on the back porch; the broken swing squeals in the wind, empty. Farm cattle are shrunk down to nothing, dead or sold off. Empty fields are painted multiple drab shades of brown. Hope is matched to despair; the pain of giving up was not something they ever knew; this time it was different, Worn faces, rusted jalopies on four wheels packed hard with generations in retreat, the land had abandoned them. Nothing was left to be done but head off to the next day; still holding tight in the hope that tomorrow will better. Hard times had come to the promised land. There wasn’t any place to hide; America in 1933.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2018

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Date: 3/5/2018 1:15:00 PM
"wonderous," "splendor," "touch our souls." Yes, you have truly painted the best picture of clouds using words. Congratulations!
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Steve Zak
Date: 3/5/2018 1:22:00 PM
Thank you very much for the great feedback. Tried to paint an actual picture of what it was really like during the Great Depression and the effect it had on the people. Thanks again, really appreciated what you said.
Date: 3/5/2018 1:10:00 PM
Well done; I enjoyed the personification.
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Date: 3/5/2018 12:59:00 PM
You have brought the Depression to the surface with images too awful to ignore; this was a well-thought out poem. Good job!
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