Cities of the Dead

Posted: April 16, 2019 in Uncategorized


There is a long stretch of highway that, if you follow it, takes you all the way down Louisiana past all the forgotten towns and creeping swamp to New Orleans, the City of the Dead.

These types of highways litter the United States. So much land, so many cities, and such vastness between them. Some stretches go on forever; drive day and night in some directions and all you see is old power lines connecting small towns built around big factories.

The lucky ones are still sending their boys into these rusty behemoths, but the unlucky ones are left to starve and watch as their gray worlds slip back into green.

At first, the highways empty but for the schools of semis roaming the lands, keeping supply lines strong between the coasts, but then posts and signs start to look more like bushes and trees. Ropes become vines, gravel becomes mud, and eventually each building is a new gleaming city of its own.

Order, disorder; destruction, creation. Not many journeys can show you the fractals of entropy quite like these United States of highways and ghost towns.

The rust belt, the bible belt, the American South, Midwest, and Northeast all survive riddled with highways slashing westward like the mad dash of the dust bowl manifested, scars across the face of an old mother who’s had to keep moving too long.

She started her odyssey when she landed on Ellis Island and had to cross Appalachia. She got lost in the Adirondacks and ran through the Dakota plains down to the Louisiana swamps, but got stuck.

She tried clawing back up the Mississippi but got all tangled in the Mangrove roots. There she waited a full year’s harvest before she could face the mud all the way to the West, and though she made it to the Gate in St. Louis, she couldn’t ever make it past the front yard, too windy.

Something happened before the Rockies, something terrible and great. Something made all the grass die. Whatever happened, the journey after was of a different kind, her scars a reminder of her scrambled past.

But that Louisiana stretch, down the Mississippi and off to the great blue coast, that one, a girl or boy’s gotta be careful on. When that land starts to cower and that swamp creeps in, before you know it you’ll find yourself beneath a dead tree, surrounded by thick, black water that looks like grass and ground, facing Death himself in his cold, yellow eyes.

Absurd words by Zach Brown

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