Colloquy for the States

THERE’S talk says Illinois.
Is there says Iowa.
There’s talk on the east wind says Illinois.
Talk about what says Dakota says Kansas says Arkansas.
Can’t make out: too far east says Michigan.
East of the roosters says Indiana.
East of the
Morning crows says Ohio.
East says York State.
East still says Connecticut: on east.
It’s down east from here says Massachusetts.
It’s cast of the Quoddy says Maine but I hear it.
What says Texas.
What can you hear says Virginia.
Can’t be sure says Maine. Surf on the reefs.
Ice pounding away on the pans in Penobscot.
Listen says Oregon.
Scoop your ear says Kentucky.
Can’t tell says Maine. Too much fog.
Bells on the Old Orchard. Horns at Ogunquit.
Listen says Mississippi.
Try to says Texas.
Lean your lug to the loo’ard says Massachusetts.
It’s tall talk says Maine. It’s tall talking —
Tall as a calf in a fog.
Call it says Arkansas.
It’s mean talk says Maine. It’s mouthy meaning.
Mean about what says Nebraska.
Mean about us.
What about us says Kentucky says Texas says Idaho.
I gather they don’t like us says Maine.
Tell says Connecticut.
I vum says New Hampshire.
I gather we’ve low ways says Maine.
So says Kansas.
Take my seat says Michigan.
It’s how we marry says Maine. We ain’t choosers.
We scrabble them up and we mingle them in. We marry the
Irish girls with the shoes with the quick come-after.
We marry the Spaniards with the evening eyes.
We marry the English with the tiptoe faces.
We marry the golden Swedes: the black Italians:
The German girls with the thick knees: the Mexicans
Lean and light in the sun with the jingling and jangling:
The Chilenas for luck: the Jews for remembrance: the Scots girls
Tall as a tall man — silver as a salmon:
The French with the skillful fingers: the long loves.
I gather we marry too many says Maine: too various.
I gather we’re bad blood: we’re mixed people.
That what they say says Texas.
That’s what they’re saying.
What’s in their soup says Arkansas: what they been eating?
What’s in their hair says Maryland.
Aren’t they men:
Can’t they make it with strangers says Alabama.
Are they shy says Missouri.
Or what says Montana.
I gather they’re
Bred pure says Maine: they’re superior people.
Have they seen our kids says York State: the tall girls
The small elegant breasts they have like Egyptians
The long legs with the delicate slender bones
And the wrists supple and small as a man’s three fingers —
The way they walk on the world with their narrow heels?
You can tell them anywhere: tell them in any country —
The height of their heads and the tilt of their heels when they walk:
A head higher than most: a hand smaller.
Have they raced our boys says Michigan — fast as black snakes:
Quick on the gun as quail: the sweet striders:
The watchful lads in the lead: dangerous followers:
Strong hearts in the stretch home. Have they beaten them?
I gather they haven’t says Maine. I gather we’re mixed
Bloods: they don’t take to us.
Don’t they says Kansas.
Have they seen our towns says Kansas: seen our wheat:
Seen our flat cars in the Rocky Mountains:
Seen our four-lane highways: seen our planes
Silver over the Alleghenies the Lakes
The big timber the tall corn the horses —
Silver over the snow-line: over the surf?
Have they seen our farms says Kansas: and who ploughed them?
Have they seen our towns says Kansas: and who planned them?
Have they seen our men says Kansas.
Gather not:
Gather we’re bad blood says Maine. They’re saying.
Who says says Missouri: who’s this saying?
Where from says Montana: where’s he from?
Where from: who says Georgia.
Can’t make out.
Way east: east of the Rhine it might be.
The wind veers says Maine. I don’t make out.
East of the Rhine: so that’s it says Montana.
The pure-bloods by the Rhine says Carolina.
The blood we left behind us says Wisconsin.
The blood we left behind us when we left:
The blood afraid of travel says Nevada.
The blood afraid of changes says Kentucky.
The blood afraid of strangers says Vermont: —
Strange stars and strange women: the two of them.
The blood that never hankered for a strange one: —
A dark one says Dakota with strange hair.
Stayed home and married their kin says Missouri.
Married their cousins who looked like their mothers says Michigan.
So that’s all: east of the Rhine says Wisconsin.
So that’s all says Arkansas: all for that —
All for the pure-bred boys afraid of strangers.
Surf on the reefs says Maine: ice on Penobscot. . . .
There’s talk says Iowa.
Talk says Illinois.
Bells on the Old Orchard: bells at Ogunquit. . . .
Clash of corn in the wind says Illinois.