from “Road Shoulders”

power lines held by birds

of prey the hostile expanse above


ditches teeming floral invasive

wayside fleurs


late summer the shoulder sang


holds breeze by

the course of the drive


ravelling winds furl sparse treetops


semi-trailers startle traffic to attention

righted to the middle steady


a point of calm


a sense of pedal to headrest

never lost hope of going somewhere


a waiting trench the front across the dash

deep open road through the window


on the glass

bokeh crystals of settlement


streaming past mirror side appears larger


after all the lakes hold ashes and fur


long route tapers to a blue-strip august


the walk along here I was a daughter then

along a highway


on the route she shines on

leaning into the path as nettle heavy with rain

Grade levels
Grades 10-12 / Sec. 4 & 5 / CEGEP 1
Contest Criteria
Bibliographical info

Cecily Nicholson, "from Road Shoulders" from Wayside Sang. Copyright © 2017 by Cecily Nicholson.

Source: Wayside Sang (Talonbooks, 2016)

One line description
the shoulder of the road gleams with the poet's attention
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  1. What season does the poem take place in?
  2. How do you know that there is movement in the poem? What information does the poet give to indicate motion?
  3. What is the significance of the title? Using the phrases from the poem, is there another title you could give the poem? If so, why?
  4. How does the poem evoke a sense of home and belonging?
  5. The poem is structured using one lined stanzas, or monostiches, and couplets. How would you recite the poem to convey the poem’s structure to the listener?


Writing Activity


The poem expresses movement across land and space. Write a monostich poem about a commute you had or a road trip. What did you see, hear, feel, remember?


Useful Links


  1. Cecily Nicholson Reading:
  2. Cecily Nicholson Interview with Room Magazine:
  3. TIA House podcast Interview:


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