109,997 poems read

Central Illinois

I am sitting in my Dodge…driving
A late afternoon sun sits burning in the West…blinding me
The visor casts a shadow across my sweaty brow

August cornfields flash endlessly past my window
Rock and Roll radio occupies my brain
I think about these miles and miles of corn fields

I think of the ancient prairie now gone
Which for countless centuries
Drew life from this fertile earth
And gave it back again

This all before our steel plows cut the prairie's flesh
And broke the ancient rythmns
And drove the proud Illini from their sacred domain
And sent the dear into hiding
From these newly arrived ones who shot the deer
And burned the oceans of prairie grass
And opened the virgin soil into furrows and fields
That they tended as though this land
Had only been waiting for their arrival

The sight
Of this horizon to Horizon expanse of lush green corn
Disturbs me

In all of Illinois
There are only a few scarce acres left of virgin prairie-
A pitiful relic of eons of earth's labor

When I was young-
Driving with my dad through these fields in autumn
You couldn't pass too many miles
Without seeing a pheasant run across the road

They're scarce now-
Even the hunters
Have a hard time finding them

When this land was parceled out nearly two centuries ago
The surveyors left a square mile in each township to support a school
That was a smart and enlightened thing to do
The children and grandchildren of the newly arrived ones
Got a good start in learning what they needed to know
To subdue this land and make it there own
And build their world
The way they wanted it to be

It never crossed their mind to parcel out another square mile
In each township to leave the land as it was when they found it

To leave the land-for the deer to hide-for the rabbits to nest
For the birds to sing their ancient  morning songs
That for more dawns then humankind can imagine
Have been the hymns of the prairie worshiping her lover-
The sky

The land is all factories now
Industrial production agriculture
Each precious grain of soil
Garbed in molecules of petro-chemical fertilizers
To make the techno-corn
Produce more bushels per acre
To meet their fate
On the Chicago Board of Trade