Thursday, November 28, 2013


Asphalt and concrete,
rutted, cracked, pot-holed, patched,
curbed and uncurbed,
planned and unplanned,
junkyards, repair shops,
used car dealers, new car dealers,
warehouses, truck stop, rail yard,
gritty bars that open at six when the night shift ends,
gas stations, liquor stores,
shopping centers, restaurants,
motels for travelers passing through,
motels for the suburban poor,
travelers’ cabins whose residents never leave,
trailer parks, apartments,
new homes, old homes,

You proclaim your presence
with a cacophony of signs,
disorderly and non-compliant.
You do not celebrate your diversity,
which arose from the dull practicality of life.

You are not sexy like I-95,
fast moving, designed for speed from city to city.
You are not beautiful like the Parkway,
stone bridges and tree-lined;
nor are you efficient like Route 29,
moving the outer suburban elites
to work and play without wasting time.
You are the step-sister—
once first, now least.
You are the old hag,
coughing and wheezing
through diesel fumed days,
from Elkridge to Laurel,
carrying the burdens.

You have no pretense to beauty;
no tree-lined verges;
no manicured medians.
You are rough-edged, ugly, and stained.
Your open spaces are empty lots
and forest tracts waiting to be bulldozed
and opened for business.

Now we are changing you,
like we changed ourselves.
We are making you orderly and neat,
sweeping away the dross,
like we swept it from elsewhere in the county.
The tide of suburban conformity
is rising over you,
parcel by parcel;

When the transformation is complete—
the removal of the old,
the decrepit,
the unwanted,
the nonconforming—
what will you be?
What will we be?

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