Remember that scene in The Grapes of Wrath
when the bulldozer, riding the horizon like a marauder,
like the klansmen in Birth of a Nation,
looms over the sharecropper’s house?
Sharecroppers, like my great great grandfather
120 years ago in the Ohio valley,
lived a hard life, not having much
beyond the dirt under their feet,
the togetherness of family,
and hunger like a wolf at their door.
The tools they had were for shaping
crops into rows, to ply the corn or the wheat
into something more than the sum of their parts.
Spring’s gamble, plus a little nurturing,
meant crops you could bank on the rest of the year.
But then, facing off against bulldozers
originally designed as tractors,
the farmers are overtaken,
run off by profits of the corporation
as much as by the blade of the bulldozer.
These dozers, ever the social Darwinists,
claiming their steel is stronger than flesh,
grow larger, heavier, more powerful by the year.
Look at the Caterpillar D9; weighing 53 tons,
armored to withstand the sweep of a minefield,
loaded with grenade launchers and machine guns
and sent to till through Palestinian neighborhoods,
to crush the rows of silent olive trees –
farms and families overtaken like my ancestors