Early in Moby Dick,

Melville, glorifying Nantucket,

loved that faraway island,

attempted to find the opposite,

the nadir to this crown of New England,

where ships launched for whales,

where quaint sea shacks leaned,

the dark blue of the North Atlantic,

boats like shining diamonds in the sun,

wild, rugged green grass,

necklaces of fishing nets,

shores planted with lighthouses.

Melville chose to pick on Illinois.


What did Illinois do wrong?

Was it a cosmic offense

sent the glaciers,

slowly scraping

across its beauty?


Where are the seas, the mountains,

any elevation at all?

Just fields, fields, fields.

Are  long, deep furrows,

corn and soybeans pretty?

Yes, beautiful sunsets,

but everywhere has sunsets.

Does it matter that nothing

blocks your eyes when you see

the blazing colors of the only

work of art in the Sucker state?


Melville scanned his world-wide mind,

harpooned Illinois

as if it were a leviathan

never to escape

his words.


 Vern Fein


BA retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over two hundred poems on over eighty sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven's Review, Ariel Chart, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review. Recently his first book of poetry--I WAS YOUNG AND THOUGHT IT WOULD CHANGE--was released by Cyberwit Press.


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