"Route One, Central Florida, December 2, 2001" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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"Route One, Central Florida, December 2, 2001"

First place


Through the front windshield
the black and white billboard reads
"God bless George and Jeb Bush"
It faces south on Route One
in a white sand Florida field
Nearby stands an abandoned statue of
Jesus in the reeds
ringed with wild cabbage palms
robes chipped
and by the sun faded

In the rearview mirror
the tailgating mullet-headed redneck
sunken, still eyes
filled with years of murderous thoughts
now justified
by the ripped and wind whipped
American flag on the aerial
of his rust embroidered pick-up truck
Secretly jealous of the Taliban
they know how to
keep their women down

Through the side window
washed out pink and yellow
one floor motels
signs under rasping palm trees
"kitchenettes cable air
this area patrolled by police"

I pass a Christmas manger scene
raised on crooked two-by-fours
roof made of clear plastic
held together with silver duct tape
surrounded by Disney dwarves
from holy Orlando nearby

I pass Hunt Club Road
shaded by Spanish Moss
where grown men
shoot snakes for fun
crush 50-year-old turtles
because they can
torture dogs for fighting and racing

I stop
at a moldy shelved country store
where thick legged brown skinned women
from broken wrist divorces
whose eyes haven't seen much mercy
are sent back inside
for the third time
by cursing men
because they bought the
wrong brand of cigarettes
and forgot the lottery tickets

Most people here limp
everyone smokes

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