PRTN (6)

Waypoints

in Charlottesville/U.S. by

Maumee is 17 minutes
(10.3 miles) from Toledo
          the highways intersecting there
          known as the Crossroads
          of America
via the Anthony Wayne Trail
          named after the Revolutionary
          War general known as “Mad Anthony”
it is 8 hours 11 minutes
(543.6 miles) from Charlottesville
          named in honor of Princess Charlotte,
          who became queen of England when
          she married King George the Third
          known as the “mad king who lost America”
via I-80 East and I-76
Get on I-80 East/I-90 East/Ohio Turnpike
from Conant Street head north
Continue onto South Reynolds Road
Use the right lane to take
Interstate 80/Interstate 90/Ohio Turnpike ramp
Keep right at the fork, follow signs
for I-90 East/I-80/Cleveland
          a terminus of the Underground
          Railway used by slaves to reach
          free states during the Civil War
merge onto I-80 East/I-90 East
Follow I-80 East and I-76
take Ohio Turnpike past Akron
          once known for fastest growing city
          in the U.S. also known for Addie Polk,
          who shot herself while being evicted
          during the U.S. foreclosure crisis
Head past Youngstown
          nestled in the Mahoning Valley region
          which thrived on coal and steel, now part
          of the Rust Belt, immigrant incursions
          sparked major Ku Klux Klan activity
          there in the Roaring Twenties
Pass by Pittsburgh
          “the Steel City” heralded as the
          “arsenal of democracy” during
          World War II producing 95 million
          tons for the war effort
Keep following I-76 south
          60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh
          is the 9/11 Flight 93 National Memorial
Take exit 161 for I-70 East toward US-30/Breezewood/Baltimore
          Baltimore shed blood in 1861 with the
          first deaths of the Civil War, in 1968
          after the King assassination, again in 2015
          following the death of Freddie Gray
Stay with I-81 towards Harrisonburg
          bastion of diversity in the Shenandoah Valley
          high schoolers there speak 55 languages in
          addition to English, proud to be the place of origin
          for the multilingual yard sign “Welcome Your Neighbors”
Follow I-81 South and I-64 East
Take exit 221 for I-64 East toward Richmond
          capital of the commonwealth, known among other things
          as the place at which was passed the Virginia Statute for
          Religious Freedom written by Jefferson himself
Take exit 121B to merge onto VA-20 North toward Charlottesville
arrive at intersection of
Fourth and Water streets
Recalculating . . .

 


Author’s note: I thought about the passage to Charlottesville taken by the suspect in the killing by car of Heather Heyer. The probable route represents America, its history, and along the way there are to be found signposts indicating directions, for good or ill, we have taken as a nation. This tragic occurrence now brings us to yet another point along the way. Where we are next heading is yet to be determined. VA-20, the last leg of the route to Charlottesville in this poem is called “The Constitution Route.” It was so designated by the Virginia legislature in 1976. The route encompasses the National Scenic Byway that passes by the homes of three of America’s Founding Fathers and presidents. It is part of National Geographic’s “Journey through Hallowed Ground.” 

Read More:
Charlottesville rally turns deadly: One killed after car strikes crowd [NBC]

Howard Richard Debs is a finalist and recipient of the 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards; his work appears internationally in numerous publications. “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor, Rattle Online; full length book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing) forthcoming in latter-2017. 

The image is of a map from the 1880’s.