Monday, July 21, 2014

The Upper Mississippi

The Upper Mississippi
(Part II of II, to “Ode to Old Minnesota)


The upper Mississippi, once free flowing all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, now: walled and damned, and diked,
       and in the spring, sandbagged to the hilt along the St Paul banks.
Once the old levees with their sand boils and cracks, watched those very
       houses built on those waterlogged ramparts—with  the rains and winter snows meltdown—float  those houses down river: unstoppable, unhurried over passing barrages,
       until the current would flow backwards; now tamed, but I less than fifty
       years ago, those sandbags were being bagged with sand, lifted and placed in place—; this was when all men: white, black, yellow or red,
       brown, side by side in shifts: in mud and rain, innocently in a frantic:
Showing God—for once in the whole of a year—man was capable of
       working together, enduring together, bearing one another’s idiosyncrasies, and eccentricities, and little hates, and precocious
       overtones, malice and rage, and trading whisky kegs for coffee drums,
—Ah! These days are also vanished of course, gone beneath the motionless currents
       of the Mighty Mississippi: but they were!

Yes, in this kindness, the Minnesota man served his humble apprenticeship    
       yearly, reaching beyond the Hounds of Hell, and industry’s money—
This was the Minnesota way, back in those far-off days!
Where streets and townships, and hamlets, and horses, all had Indian-
As well as rivers and falls, the same.
And the impregnable woods, where people lived, and cooked, hunted and
       fished for a living, were buried with those very same names
       surrounding them: who didn’t even notice when it was their time to die.

No: 4477 (7-18-2014/Poetic Prose