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These United States On These United States


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We’ve invited one of our favoritest bands kicking up dust today, These United States, to opine, scribble gutter poetry and otherwise offer artful glosses on the United States. TUS chief instigator Jesse Elliott will drop by from time to time with his take on a different state. He begins with the farthest flung member of the Union…

We’re on the side of the road at dusk, bright red picnic table at a faded old shrimp truck, ginger and lemon and garlic running down our arms, rivulets through salt canyons, skin thick from a day in the ocean, cold wind, hard sun, survival, simplicity. It’s not simple in the easy sense – it’s straightforward. Life gets plenty hard, but it’s not complicated. The highway goes two lanes, the arc of the closest star one direction, the land can only rise from the shore inward, and when it rises, it’s sharp. Twelve letters – a, e, i, o, u, w, h, k, l, m, n, p – make all your words of only those, beauty blooming from infinite permutations of the most elemental. Stone. Sand. Rice. Red. Black. Brown. Green.

First, though, the shrimp – before we got into colors, scenes, landscapes, palms re-planted, we put early desperate automatic knuckles opposable thumbs into the foam around us, pulled ourselves up on the lives of other life. The fish know this. You see them there, just an hour earlier, just under the table of the water, feeding the same way, beautiful, beasts, links in the chain, even the most radiant, a part of something larger, crueler, maybe more ordered – no, not cruel, though, that’s not right – just something hard and simple, forged by fire, an island in an ocean. A string of islands, joined under the surface of something vast. Hawaii. (Jesse Elliott)

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