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.