Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROLL-CALL, by MARION VAN LANINGHAM

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ROLL-CALL, by            
First Line: I have seen you, kansas, shifting out
Last Line: When the sagebush spreads the gaunt little seeds of tomorrow?
Subject(s): United States; America

I have seen you, Kansas, shifting out
In eddying spirals of dust.

Pennsylvania running madly
Down the hills to Ohio.

Florida raging in tatters;
California staggering giddy from her ballroom;

Nebraska, Dakota, Arizona . . .
Dry as a pea-pod in August . . .
Farmers punching the earth with holes,
Drilling the strata for water,
And hides hung on cows like hatracks.

I have seen you, Maine, stubbing on stones,
Oklahoma blown sky high with oil spouts,
And the cotton pickers of Georgia
Holding a crazy bug with an auger nose between their fingers.

Where will you be, states, when the roll is called?
Who will fathom the message that Dan Boone and Sam Houston have taught you?
Who will register your name on the bulletin, sad empire,
when the winds crack their whips and the snows float you
out and the earth shifts its strata beneath you?
Who will take your heat and measure your pulse when the desert gods feed on your vitals?
Who will ease your memories and soothe your thoughts
when the sagebush spreads the gaunt little seeds of tomorrow?

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