Jean L. Kreiling

Read Steinbeck’s tale and you can nearly taste the dust
and feel the weariness of those who faced the dust.

They searched for work, for home, for dignity.
They chased survival every day; they chased the dust.

Instead of decent wages, they earned sweat
that somehow nourished fortitude and graced the dust.

They fled from poverty to poverty,
from suffering to death.  No one outpaced the dust.

The orchards yielded little but injustice
from ruined soil in which defeat was traced:  the dust.

Ma Joad claimed, “We’re the people—we go on.”
You wish that grit like hers could have displaced the dust.

The novel’s final scene may feed your faith—
but it does not eclipse the pain, the waste, the dust.


JEAN L. KREILING is the author of the recently published collection, The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books, 2014).  Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals, including American Arts Quarterly, Angle, The Evansville Review, Measure, and Mezzo Cammin, and in several anthologies.  Kreiling is a past winner of the String Poet Prize and the Able Muse Write Prize, and she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.