from Blue Mound to 161

into the south of it
how from any road, Geff
seemed south to me
Wayne City, too
not the crux or
“at the center” but

            on this side
            on that side

not even “border states”
then but roomfuls of voices
debating secession in
Union and Alexander
downstate counties  Federal
guns already come down from
Chicago to hold the rivers
at Cairo

                        or trucks
crossing the bridge there
Corollas running I-24 into
Kentucky  Cadillacs flying
I-57 north coal barges
slipping locks, dodging
catfishermen tanker cars
of acids passing through
the East St. Louis yards
these things’ momentum


                        these girls
singing in place their
songs testing the memory

            in rocks
            in sedges
            in seeds
            in the reptile itself

as the song says, looking
at my own bad
attitude toward the
pastoral   the here
ness of it   ground
measured out in
spoil heaps and

the world begins
in a ditch—light, air,
aluminum, water—
no quack grasses, these
yellowfruit sedge, cuplike
and sick-brown, blooms
hidden, nerves running
the convex face  “The only
station in Southern Illinois
for this grass is a wet ditch
near the junction of Illinois
highways 3 and 144.”

*      *      *      *

(a million yrs ago    the Gulf
sucked down to the Delta    leaving deep swamp
plantings of one-thousand-year trees—Tupe-
los and Swamp Cypress    adhering to stumps,
Cypress Knee sedges, stout and blacklike...

meadowbeauties and Asa Gray    the Cache
seeps from Little Black Slough into flat water
below the Dongola-Cypress Blacktop

*      *      *      *

Our county data
are largely based
on the literature
and confirmed
sightings, but
plants do move
and not all
populations have
been documented.
Significant gaps
in the map
distribution may
not be real.

*      *      *      *

Song of Three Jonesboro Girls in a Field

“The ground thickens and blacks. Quick,
man! Grab your shovel and pick! Your
helmet, light and yellowbird! Follow the
waters. Go into the earth!”

“While maidens gather stones in fields, we
are going into the earth. Into the earth. In-
to the earth! Archimedes Cave lies under
the rock. Come back, yellowbird!”

“Yellowbird’ll be back tomorrow. Gathering
is hard on my knees. Gather your own stones,
old men. We are going into the ground, toting
bouquets of yellow dog’s teeth and mayapples.”

*      *      *      *

is a single channel evident?
layers of water    the Cache-Bay
riverless and swimming 15 ft. below
the level of these swamps  not
prairie marshes but temporary
localities of water  all draining

                        (like jazz is made
                        out of what else
                        but other things in
                        the specificity of

or against that  layers
of silt (most falsely called
“clay”) at one time the
bottom of the world
fossil prints of angio-
sperms or weeds against
sky in a ditch    detritus
black and white as a
mortician’s tricks: candles
half-shirts  coins razor
paste mint and thread in
the skin


                                    there is no longer a
                                    true soil here

*      *      *      *

McCarver’s Extra-Inning Blast Sends Fans Home

(WP-Folkers. LP-Ray. T-3:23)

ball leak
the right
field wall    then

coming back
across the
bridge into Il-
linois, orange
lights on the
river’s east

                                    P E A B O D Y   C O A L

*      *      *      *

the utter chaos of the
  Paradise and String-
town    chip seal sown
sun on an Impala’s
hood four miles from
here  the passionate being
prepares his explosions and
exploits in this solitude

bridge too low to dive
from  rust and silt pressed into
concrete “a grit of occasion”
car radio sings she’d drag me

through the streets of Balti-
    this span of no use
river summers in its right-
hand channel    wheel slips
against mud    I got some money

‘cause I just got paid    you
grin royal flycatcher  hogleg
in your back pocket    boxhead
rises in the mud    your voice
eddies     prairie dock and purple
cone flowers along the tracks

Garin Cychol | Mudlark No. 23
Contents | Pantoum