Michael Hoerman

For a Man Crying on the Shoulder of I-44


She still thinks of you: A careless affair long ago.
She tries not to picture you on the roadmap of her life,
But you are there, like a childhood scar—
Faded, only not so innocent. 

The lies she told you, the betrayal—
These were not meant to hurt you.
The lies were anchor bolts
Securing her to the foundation of a family’s approval;
The betrayal—the house she built there,
With rooms for everyone except you. 

That’s the story you’re sticking to, anyway. 

You have recited it for twenty years—
Blood dripping from your wrists,
Drool in your whiskers and whiskey on your breath.
That crazed look is a funny kind of love,
At home in the dim light of truck stop bathrooms,
And the taillights of cars that don’t stop. 

And you, wrapped in a dirty blanket
With your rest stop demons,
Smelling like nicotine and day-old piss—
Not even the Christians want to make you over.
A good scrub and a dip with their Lord
Won’t wash away your sin. 

You’ve been carrying that empty bottle,
Broken in your pocket, for how long? 

Now, get up. Forget what was lost.
Quit the hustle.
Quit the hitching.
Quit the bottle.
Quit the crying.
Quit the highway lies. 



(photo by Jenny Whorton)