Sunday, June 14, 2009

Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful

by Kenneth Hart

Somebody hung out his red, white and blue

laundry on the highway overpass outside Providence,

a short distance from the prison crew picking up
our Cheetos bags and burger wrappers

and monster drink cups. We're stalled in traffic;
bumper stickers announce the price of freedom,

claim liberty is our right.
The guard in mirror sunglasses leans against

the correctional facility van, props a shotgun on his knee
like he's auditioning for a movie. He's protecting

our freedom to litter from the inmates' desire
to be free to litter. We inch along;

past the Budweiser billboards and the ad haiku,
brakes wheeze — some like an espresso machine,

some like an aging soprano with emphysema.
It looks like this is going to take awhile, here

beneath the soiled laundry of the republic
which clings to a chain link fence.

Maybe the seagull floating above us
sees a few things that we can't.

He's probably scavenging for something
we've left behind.

"Keep America Beautiful" by Kenneth Hart, from Uh Oh Time. © Anhinga Press, 2008.

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