“Machetes” by Jason Reynolds (poem by author of All American Boys) – Essaylink

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Read the poem and answer the questions at the bottom.

“Machetes” by Jason Reynolds (poem by author of All American Boys)

The Machete Poem: MACHETES”

by Jason Reynolds

if you listen closely

you can hear the machetes

cutting the air

in half

connecting for half a second with something

breathing and growing

breathing and growing

before being chopped

down like sugar cane in a Louisiana field

yes there are machetes everywhere

the sound of them cutting the air

chop CHOP

chop CHOP

we try not

to bend in the wind

try not to bow or bow

try to wrap fingers around our own

saccharine souls

and brace ourselves

for the

chop CHOP

chop CHOP

the machetes

cutting the air in half

coming for us

seems like folks like us be best

when we broken open

when we melted down

when we easier to digest

if you listen closely

you can hear the machetes

cutting the ears off

us

chop CHOP

chop CHOP

cold steel against our cheeks

be black sheep siblings

be black boy pillows

be

chop CHOP

chop CHOP

ears lopped off

leaving our drums in the dirt

like we ever needed ears

to hear God

like we ever needed ears to hear

the machetes

cutting the air

in half

the machetes

cutting the eyes out

us

retinas ripped

light left as a stain on the angry end of a blade

life in black and white blur

like we ever needed eyes to see red

to see gold

to see sunshine laughing yellow

to see those machetes

cutting the air

in half

chop CHOP

chop CHOP

those machetes

cutting us

in half

chop CHOP

dropping us down

to a manageable size

like gigantism be the only reason we giants

what you gon do with this ten foot fire in my belly?

what you gon do with tidal wave under my tongue?

aint nobody ever told you we always find our legs?

if you listen closely

you can hear the machetes

cutting the air

in half

chop CHOP

and if you listen even closer

you can hear

in the sliver of silence

between those chops

the clapping

clap CLAP

clap CLAP

the clapping of yester-generation’s

freedom songs

protest warriors

unpopular opinions

uncomfortable confrontation

unhinging truth

clap CLAP

and this generation’s

freedom songs

protest warriors

unpopular opinions

uncomfortable confrontation

unhinging truth

hashtag

clap CLAP

clap CLAP

the clapping of kids in the street

and grandmas at church

the clapping of aunties watching

their nieces lead the march now

the clapping of new connections

new routes

new alleyways

new allies

new chances

new dances

at house parties

because we’ve never needed

eyes ears or legs

to boogie because boogie

be our heartbeat

and if you listen closely

you can hear our heartbeat

in syncopation with that

clap CLAP

clap CLAP

our laughter

clap CLAP

our singing

clap CLAP

our dancing

clap CLAP

our fighting

clap CLAP

our praying

clap CLAP

our crying

clap CLAP

or trying to breathe and grow

in the midst of all this

chopping

yes there are machetes everywhere

and if you look closely

really closely

closer than closely

you can see the machine

turning its wheels

churning out those machetes

this machine

distant yet all around

like sky

faceless

and cold

and perfect for sharpening steel

because it has no finger to prick

it has never felt the sting of skin rolling back

because it doesn’t have skin

and the excuses of history keep its conveyor belt

rolling

rolling out

machete after machete after machete to

to cut the air

of so many of us

in half

no this machine

it does not feel

but it does speak

it says

get to work

chop chop

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Style Devices

Literary Devices

Style Choices

(HIGHLIGHT 1)

Elements of Fiction

Also known as Effect or Meaning

(HIGHLIGHT 1)

Define the Meaning or Effect

Metaphor         Imagery

Repetition        Irony             Point of View   Simile

Diction (with tone or mood)

Allusion           Pacing

Motif                Personification

Imagery           Dialogue

Syntax

Theme

Tone

Mood

Characterization

Conflict

Plot

Theme:   Provide a theme statement

Tone:      What is the tone?

Mood:     What is the mood?

Characterization:  Which character and what trait?

Conflict:   What is the conflict and who is involved?

Plot:   What part of the plot are you focusing on?

Paragraph 1

THESIS STATEMENT

(Include author, title, style elements and effect)

Paragraph 1

In Title of Your Novel In Italics, the author Name of Your Author uses Style Element (Column 1) to develop effect/meaning  (Column 2)  that define the meaning or effect (Column 3). Provide some more background information about the text that helps the reader to understand your thesis statement.

WRITE YOUR THESIS/ INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH BELOW:

Paragraph 2

EVIDENCE from text

  • Topic Sentence–based on your thesis statement
  • A quotation or paraphrase, introduced with your own words. Include a parenthetical citation to note the author and page number. 
  • Explain and connect quotation to the topic sentence.  How does the evidence demonstrate the claim in the topic sentence? How does it achieve the effect that is defined?
  • Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph restates your thesis statement
  • Pick a quote to support your effect or meaning and include it here with an introduction such as “in this novel, the character states,”   “
  • Connect your quotation to the effect…how does this quote achieve the effect?  Explain the who, what, where, when, how and why of the quote.

WRITE YOUR BODY PARAGRAPH BELOW:

Conclusion Paragraph

(Final Thought on Your Claim)

  • Restate thesis statement in different words
  • Talk about how you think this element will continue to impact the story
  • Talk about why this element is important
  • Talk about how the element impacted you

WRITE YOUR CONCLUSION PARAGRAPH BELOW:

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