INTERSTATE REST STOP
Last time I stopped, a drifter was flossing
his teeth while urinating, a show of superfluous
multitasking given his occupation. I heard
a punk etching contact info into the stall wall,
pink high-tops visible in the vulnerable
foot-tall gap. Dang, I’m always forgetting
my ballpoint for graffiti. For a good time call _____.
Insert a name startlingly specific in such a faceless
place. Your eighth-grade girlfriend, where is she
now? The room has the smell of something
tired of its terminal illness, less human than animal.
Semi-trucks circle like lions at the watering hole.
Who swaps out the TP? Who pushed the YOU ARE
HERE pin into the wall map? I can’t fathom
the number of hands washed (or unwashed),
the paper towels dispensed, the volume of air
forced through dryers. Settling down onto a seat
still warm from its prior occupant. My crabs can leap…
Have CB dialogues been supplanted by new
technologies? Do truckers Snapchat? I hope
in this smart car era the Neolithic mode endures,
lonely tracers into the void. These dismal way stations,
primitive or modern, free wi-fi or parking only,
rustic A-frames or Soviet Bloc travel plazas.
Between Chicago and Gary we pass billboard
upon billboard for gentlemen’s clubs and a giant
crater from which all the limestone of Michigan
Avenue has been scraped. Five lanes of traffic.
For a good time you are here, wherever here is.
Dan Pinkerton lives in Urbandale, Iowa.