highway beautification

highway beautificationto make a highway pretty’s

been a problem since appius claudius cæcus

decided to move rome’s legions

faster, farther, and more efficiently


in all these years—nay, millennia—

of pavement engineering

only romans themselves

solved the highway beautification problem

with a landscaping program


the dead would be planted

along the shoulder of the appian way—

perennials for everyone to see


for the rich, broad-shouldered,

single-eyebrowed mausoleums;

middle classes rested, if not chicly,

then tastefully, in sprawling columbaria

kept garden fresh by slaves

later sown into potter’s fields


a hundred thousand miles of memoria

erase the eyesore of interstate,

four- and two-lane,

divided, undivided, turning-lane,

soft- and hard-shouldered,

urban and rural highway


behind guardrails,

perhaps even holding them up,

gravestones, urns, crosses,

wreaths, stars of david, mausoleums,

vases, crescent moons,

bronze baby booties, photos behind glass


gone the need to plant

to plow to mow to send

no need for men in orange suits

to pluck ballooned shopping bags from bushes

to stuff sun-faded wreaths

into black plastic bags

Published by

Patrick Dobson

Patrick Dobson was founded in 1962. He is a writer, scholar, ironworker, and poet who lives in Kansas City, MO. He is author of two books with the University of Nebraska Press, Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains (2009) and Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer (May 2015). Dobson is a work in progress until termination.

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