Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Missouri Compromise
What shall my West hurt me?
John Donne

The war passed through here on its way
to starting like it did everywhere.
Weather systems clash like accents
at the thresholds of snow.
Beyond these swipes of fingerpaint,
the salt charges, the chickenscratch
creeks and hollers.
The ground ungentles like the manners.
Sinkhole creeks dogleg improbably.
Tensed above, the fields
are garrisoned with outcroppings,
the free great plains abstract, collateral.
Past this point rivers run backwards
towards the tarpits and fishladders.
The south? A capillary bed,
a cotton mouth, the bywater
x-ray of a brackish foot,
a snail foot trailing islands.
It’s still mostly country
down the middle of the dial.
Rivers suture, rivers solder and lace.
Like Pyramus and Thisbe,
states driven apart whisper
through secret systems of conduits and caves
that harbored Jesse James.
The great lakes leap like porpoises.  end  

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