Rhythmic River

10 March 2019

By Philip Kuepper

The barge of black,
oily coal glistened
in the near noon light,
as it budged slowly south
down the Mississippi past down
in an unbroken stream of motion,
the only sound the low purring
of the tug’s engine.

Not so much as a slurp
where barge and river met;

Huck’s river, and Jim’s, and Tom’s;
river along which lies
my hometown, my mind
hopping aboard the barge
to travel, how far?, south:
St. Louie?  Biloxi? Memphis?,
names that drew me
out of myself, all the way
to New Orleans?, to the bay,
AH!, to the ocean;

names crowding my mind
with their syllabic sounds,
the syllabic lapping of them
against the shore of my imagination,
drawing up an itinerary of my way out,
an itinerary that has taken me
as far east as the Bosporous,
as far west as the Pacific.

(3 February 2019)

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