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Sunday, August 28, 2011

ODE TO HIGHWAY 13

“Sometimes they ask him what he’s thinking about when he’s driving”


I know we’re going the right way when

in the middle of the night we cross the lit up

bridge, it’s a miniature version of the one in

Boston, strange masts, cables in the center.

Johnny Janosik Furniture and The Monster Mile

tell me I’m on vacation and on the right road.


Pickup trucks loaded down with watermelons,

vegetable stands with tomatoes and peaches.

Brick churches from another century are planted

on the highway alongside rows of crepe myrtles.

There’s Machipongo Seafood, plenty of Wawas,

and Mason Dixon for cheap cigarettes and hams.


Farmers on tractors, a different kind of traffic jam.

Rundown school buses filled with migrant workers

ready to work in Eastern Shore tomato packing sheds.

We’ll smell the chickens of Perdue and Mountainaire.

I’ll accelerate past eighteen wheeled bird cages with

feathers flying, lots of clucking, it’ll be their last ride.


I’ll laugh at the Dreamland Mobile Home Park sign and

know that my sleeping family wouldn’t find the same

irony in the big billboard or its slogan, A Touch of Class.

Speed traps in towns with Native American names-

Accomack, Pocomoke, Nassawadox and in counties

with fancy English names- Kent, Sussex, and Worcester.


We’ll see High school car washes, plenty of yard sales,

and a church group selling “authentic Carolina BBQ”.

There’ll be at least one accident, asleep at the wheel?

We’ll see roadside shrines to whole families who died.

Signs for beaches we’ve never been to before make us

wonder why not go to Rehoboth, Dewey, or Ocean City?


We drive on to the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge,

looking for the blue signs with the white seagull logo.

Fleets of mini vans with luggage racks, bikes, fishing rods

slide south from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The Jersey Shore is just a memory now, a pile of snapshots.

Been cheating on her for years and they’ll never go back.


Tourists trade places each Saturday on Highway 13 as they

head in two different directions with two different moods.

Perhaps I just drove by a guy from Pittsburgh and his family

that stayed in the very same house that I’ll stay in with mine.

I’ll use the same bathroom, lay my head on the same pillows,

take the same photo of the sun rising above dunes and waves.

1 comment:

Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

Strong imagery in this poem. Really takes me there.