Hoosier Times    
Sunday, July 30, 2006 

A magic place called Mississinewa County

"Mississinewa County" is no myth. Jared was there in his Jeb days at the Huntington Herald-Press.

Poems before and poems here caress and recreate feelings he had in his reporting days when the Army Corps of Engineers was claiming victory over down-the-Wabash flooding by building reservoirs that preached modernity and pish-poshed tradition, history, folklore.

Monument City was a Huntington County town given an Atlantis burial under one of those reservoirs. Cemeteries in the reservoirs' declared paths were moved. Farms with generations of tales and sweat were gulped up. Monroe County has areas just as expediently swallowed. Jared Carter, who walked those regions and talked with sons and daughters of now-gone communities and homelands writes as a friend of all those.

The Pearl and The Dude

Only a couple of "Cross this Bridge" poems carry on this theme. I focus on them because I share their roots. "Covered Bridge," with its Civil War-Morgan's Raiders-southern Indiana flavor, is another in here that particularly scored with me, as did the savagery of "Exhumation," and the pearl and Dude Holcomb:

People on the river said when he went after
frog legs, he didn't bother with a jacklight.
He liked to go out when the moon was full.
When he found the proper target, he'd rare back
and let fly a stream of pure tobacco juice
that could hit a bullfrog right between the eyes
from ten feet away. Folks said it was either
the nicotine, or the shock of it all, would stop
that bullfrog dead in its tracks.

I wish I knew poetry. I wish I could give it all a worthwhile review.
I will say I loved some phrasings, some scene-creating:

There's just nothing like it, early some morning
in July or August, being out there on the river,
where it's cool and shadowy, and you're moving
knee-deep in the shallows, nudging the skiff
a bit ahead of you, and there's a layer of mist
out over the water, where the sun's rays start
to reach down through, and you can hear voices
everywhere around you - young people laughing
and splashing and talking, and up on the bank
somebody's got a fire going, and you can smell
biscuits, and fresh coffee, and catfish frying,
and you've got the whole day ahead of you,
just being out on that river.


He was an atheist,
you understand? Back in that little town.
He didn't give a damn for God and said so,
every chance he got. He was the scourge,
the socialist, the troublemaker, all
the other things they didn't like, rolled
into one. If you grew up in any sort
of place that's off the beaten track, you know
the score. Each town, each neighborhood must have
some misfits in the cast, or else the drama
can't be acted properly. You need
oddballs to make it work. Agnostics, drunks,
poets and prostitutes - without that bunch
to boo and hiss, how would the decent folk
know when to clap? How could they recognize
their starring roles?

I treat them rudely, of course, because each poem's configuration can't properly be lined up in a newspaper's unappreciative style.  That's what the book is for (Wind Publications, at www.windpub.com/books)