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The Undertaker's Rollercoaster
Patricia Smith's poem "Undertaker" is a sample of a Dramatic poem. A dramatic poem is a very emotional piece of literature. The Dramatic poem is written to be presented to a live audience. "Undertaker" is also considered a "Slam" poem. Slam poems are Dramatic poems that are read to a silent listener or, more often, an audience and are read forcefully and with great passion to induce the audience to "feel" the words. As with "Undertaker," many Dramatic/Slam poems are made into short plays or films giving its audience the full effect of the written work. In "Undertaker," Smith addresses the myriad of thoughts and emotions that go on in the mind of this man as he deals with this difficult job day to day. Compassion, empathy, anger, and hopelessness is the emotional rollercoaster the Undertaker boards every day.
There are three characters in the Undertaker, the boy, his mother, and the Undertaker.
The boy, the center of attention in this poem, is young and has cut his life short due to choices that he has made. The mother, though it is not stated, is most likely a single mom who feels that she has done her best to raise her boy. The emotions that come out in the poem suggest that she feels that her son, like all the other sons before, is innocent and should not be where he is. The Undertaker, our main character, seems to have gotten callused by so many short lived lives that have crossed his shiny tables. He wants to see the violence, that brought this young man to his early death, stop and to be able to carry on a "normal" undertaker's life.
What is unspoken in the writing is that the...