Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "One for the Road"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by ng_moonmoth and sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.


"One for the Road"


Thanks to the diligent efforts of
the League of American Wheelmen,
Wisconsin became an early leader
in the Good Roads Movement.

Around the turn of the twentieth century,
the state established and paved roads
connecting its cities together.

With this network came a haphazard mess
of markers and signs, primarily inspired
by who would pay the most money
to advertise along which roads.

So the state legislators got together
and invented the highway numbering system,
a navigational concept which has since
traveled across the country
and around the world.

Of course, no system
is without its drawbacks.

During Prohibition,
gangsters from Chicago
took advantage of the roads
to flee the police from their city,
retreating into the northern woods
of Wisconsin to hide out until
the heat died down.

They greased many palms,
but far more compelling than cash
was the promise of "one for the road"
when alcohol was so hard to come by.

Numerous shootouts occurred
between the gangsters and the feds,
and in some resorts you can still see
the bulletholes and the cracks
spiderwebbing their way
through the glass

like a map of the history.

* * *

Notes:

Wisconsin has an interesting history in its highways. The League of American Wheelmen made this state a leader in the Good Roads Movement, ironically leading to their own decline as cars replaced bicycles.

This excellent road system made Wisconsin attractive to mobsters fleeing from Chicago police, leaving behind many historic sites relating to gang activity.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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