the case for illinois

Nothing is there that is Illinois. Nor Illinois is. Not a thing at all. Perhaps my worries. Easy it’s to be deceived because Chicago; and also this land was rich with once Indian civilization; and Illinoisans do such promising things, like settling Seattle or running for president. The borders too exist, at least to Mark Twain’s cornbread and cheeseheads and Indy fans. But before I forget my convictions, Illinois, alas, does not exist. For so long I believed—I mean, truly! I could tell I believed because it made me do things [crazy things!] like drive to Gary and while there admit (two deep into a heady pint, the words preferred to silence) “I’m from Illinois,” and the listless ears one-rich-day thought they’d like to move to Chicago. But there is no Illinois Nelson Algren, no Illinois Studs Terkel. I rooted for the Bears. I ate corn and soy. I was middle class. And then one day, the time had come to uproot from my nostalgic Illinois to move to Illinois–a place alone–and I’d realized I’d been had. I was lost. I expect you to misunderstand this; you’ve many hero stories about frontiersmen and immigrants of this land. But for those of us here, for we who feel it at every moment, we know it’s just politics (& tom waits came on the radio while i was driving on an unlit suburban drag & [whilst fog off the marsh] i saw this flicker- ing streetlamp i’d never before seen all by itself across the street from a liquor store or a candy store or a something store & with that weed-marred baseball field in my wake i hate to say this was significant but if not for an instant—in the dead of the night—

i thought it was

illinois)( ,

Ross Tierney lives in Chicago. Ross Tierney works in Chicago.