Commonplace: Shawna Mason, “Highway 69 to Dallas”

“South of McAlester the land rises–

long fingers protruding,

as scrubby cedars fight for footing

amongst angular limestone

thrust from the ground,

exposed ridges of backbone eroding.


A copper-skinned beauty on a low-slung billboard

urges her tribesmen to honor what is sacred,


While dying towns boast

pawn shops, seedy gas stations, and Calera–

Home of the 1956 Class B Boys State Champs

painted failure fresh


Rising obscenely out of rural decay,

the casino’s neon crescent

crouches above the asphalt.

Stale gray air flees its wide maw, shadowing the noonday sun.”

~ Shawna Mason, “Highway 69 to Dallas,” Applause. This poem perfectly captures that drive from McAlester to Dallas. Shawna’s poem is one of the students poems in the newest issues of Applause, UAFS’s literary magazine.


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