The river valleys – Missouri, Ohio,
Illinois, Mississippi – are thronged
with prehistoric earthen mounds. Monks’ Mound
was lived on briefly by Trappists, hence
its English soubriquet. The city
of Cahokia – the name means ‘Wild Geese’ –
was six miles square, had more than eighty mounds.
At its thirteenth century zenith,
it was as populous as any city
in the then contemporary Europe.
The Trinculos and Stephanos came:
mockers and con men – drunken, violent,
slaughtering bison, fencing the prairie –
satraps of Washington and the railways,
converting, through alcohol, to the true faith
of dependence and destitution,
those whom they determined were Caliban.
Monk’s Mound is one hundred feet high. Westwards,
beyond the black slums of East St Louis,
over the river, on the waterfront,
is St Louis’s Gateway Arch – six hundred
and thirty stainless steel feet to celebrate
the final subjugation of the land.