Illinois Route 3

by Justin Hamm

If this road could answer

I would ask her what it is like

to follow the path

of the rippleshimmery river

for too many miles

through the slowly ghosting towns

and the corncovered landscapes

of the dying Midwest

first through hills so subtle

they seem like mere rumors

and then through more

significant undulations

rising up suddenly

like tumors— only to be abandoned 

completely spent and alone

in some lesser Cairo

long before you could ever tune

your ear to the lovely blue notes

of Memphis, Tennessee

or feel the tingling creepies 

drifting out from the voodoo

niches of New Orleans


I would kneel down right here

where the darkness is thickest 

and hides the sign that warns

Danger: Falling Rock 

and I would listen as the one

tiny swath of pavement

glowing brightest white

under the sharp cuticle moon

speaks of its great envy

and the river pageants past

like so many onetime lovers 

all arrogant momentum

all callous purpose

without the slightest

hint of hesitation