July 6, 2018

A Poem by Joseph S. Pete: "The World's Largest Truck Stop "

Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, a photographer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee who was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest.
His literary or photographic work has appeared in more than 100 journals, including Indiana Voice Journal, Punchnel's, Flying Island, Dogzplot, Proximity Magazine, Stoneboat, The High Window, Synesthesia Literary Journal, Steep Street Journal, Beautiful Losers, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Euphemism, and elsewhere. 


The World's Largest Truck Stop

The Iowa 80 truck stop
was billed, Barnum-like,
as the world's biggest.

An uncontested boast,
a bold claim, an old trick,
drew in the road-weary, the idly curious.

However well-worn, however dubious, however unverifiable,
the “World’s largest truck stop” appellation shone
with a lapidary polish for the magpies.

It was a twirling Big Top,
a planet with its own gravity
orbited by a vast galaxy of surface parking spots.

The truck stop at the edge of protractor-flat corn
and horizonless bean fields subsisted as a self-contained world
with its own damned chiropractor and dentist.

A rough-hewn woman yelped at a display
of swords and knives,
and replica movie blades

too ridiculous for real life
and encased behind glass
like opalescent figurines.

Not content to push tire chains, heated windshield blades and flannel shirts,
the World's Largest Truck Stop
had a semi-trailer parked inside as a canvass

for a sweeping, panoramic mural of America
as pure will-fulfillment kitsch
where the Rockies and Golden Gate Bridge were conjoined,

where New York City was the only metro area worth detailing out East,
where the Iowa 80 Truck Stop was the beating-heart capital of the whole Midwest,
the vast swath of industrial grin and bountiful grain.

You could pull in for the folksy spectacle, the fantasy of sheer honking size,
or something more mundane
you'd grab at any interstate pit stop.

However lofty its aspirations,
you might visit the World's Largest Truck Stop
for a hot second,

to grab a burnt, stewing coffee
or an energy drink with 240 milligrams of caffeine, taurine, battery acid taste,
and a lot of extraneous B vitamins ultimately expelled wastefully into a splotchy urinal.

You might not fully appreciate the majesty of
a grotesquely proportioned travel center
but at least you’ll be amped up.

Hot damn, saints almighty,
momma hold my energy drink,
at least you’ll be amped up.

Joseph S. Pete

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