“In Vermont Exit Ramps II, we journey to the kingdom of the unclaimed, the unnoticed, the (until now) unsung, the I-89 and I-91 exit ramps of Vermont where wilderness and settlement interpenetrate in until now unremarked, yet remarkable ways. Layered as the rippled rock of Vermont’s Green Mountains, these poems display the poet’s nimble mind and nimble tongue and delight the reader with exactly what the road tripper travels for: that fresh experience waiting around every bend.”  (Christine Gelineau)


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​I-89 STOWE/WATERBURY (Exit 10: Route 100)
May 18, 11:00 a.m. Full Sun


Blasted through fifty feet of granite
to make this exit “Vermont”
for tourists. Unless you believe,
you will not understand. What don’t
we know? The history behind
every opportunity. The swelled
chests of road crews so wet
their sweat drips into hot tar.
The burned shoulders, explosives,
divorces from long days laying road.
Never mind. Your assignment is
to sew a story together. Delicate
hands, but the thread must be strong.
Your assignment is history, the Summit
House built as the Civil War broke out,
the Toll Road to the top of Mansfield
finished in 1870, the Big Hotel
that swelled across downtown,
burned to the ground in 1889.
Movement is another exit
down the road. Elsewhere, we say.
This history has snow in it and a Swedish
family in 1913 who swished through town
on long, narrow, wooden boards
with upturned ends. The locals
took to this strange transportation,
and skiing found a home in Stowe.
This history has a moneyed glide,
a schuss through powder, a hot
tub view and a gold club perched high on a hillside.
Beneath it, loggers felling trees on a ski slope,
road crews with sledge hammer, pickax,
demolition dynamite. This history
has architect upon architect drawing plans
before the plans you produce in the space
of a poem. Granite before you thought
of granite. Granite before the dynamite
blast, before the tourist-idea: Best
Western Café Grill, Blush
Hill Country Club, Stowe
Street Emporium. ATM.














neil.shepard@jsc.edu

NEIL SHEPARD