Road Trip

driving down from Detroit to Miami
passing through Tennessee
or Georgia or wherever
I realize I haven’t eaten since
I gobbled a bag a Oreos in Ohio
so I stop at one of those
black and yellow Waffle Houses
it’s swarming with plaid and denim people
and waitresses who mistake me
for someone named Sweet Thing Sugar Darlin’
they’re too familiar and somehow intimidating
their big, bright red lips so friendly and feral
I order and wait, lost in the buzz of busy conversation
that doesn’t concern or interest me
when the country singer server plops my plate down
my food confuses me
“walnuts on pancakes?”
my twenty-two-year-old self ponders aloud
“them are PEE-cans” Sadie shoots back
shaking her big beauty shop hairdoed head
and the farmer or mechanic or serial killer
on the stool next to me snickers
like I’m the dumbest college graduated city boy ever
I eat as fast as I can without choking
on maple syrup and embarrassment
then hightail it outta there as They would say
when I turn out of the dirt parking lot
my tires kick up a cloud of red clay dust
that hangs in the rearview mirror
like the shadow of a bad memory

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