highway beautification

highway prettification’s been a problem

since appius claudius cæcus

decided to move his legions

faster, farther, and more efficiently


in all these years—

nay, millennia—

of highway engineering,

only romans invented

a decent landscaping program


romans planted romans

along the shoulder of the appian way

in single-eyebrowed mausoleums,

sprawling columbaria that the slaves kept garden fresh


i imagine gravestones, urns, mausoleums

decorated with crosses, stars of david,

vases, crescent moons, bronze baby booties

for a hundred thousand miles of drab,

debris-beleaguered blight


i see death behind guardrails,

along shoulders of interstate,

four- and two-lane urban and rural highway


no more need to plant or mow,

to send people in orange vests

to pluck plastic shopping bags,

sun-faded wreaths, and litter

from no-man’s land

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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