“The Ad-Man” by Brad K. Hawley

When I got there, my hands were empty…. with one detective who believed in me, I might have surrendered….

for David Goodis

I’ve driven miles for this memory. 

It’s worth thinking about, 
this conceptual investment in a dream past sleeping, 
but where it will get me, 
another dead-end road on a mountain highway, 
is something I cannot imagine as different, 
cannot hope to fashion into a hopeful escape route.  

I robbed a bank, but I was never there. 
I shot a man, but he was holding the gun. 
I ran miles with a satchel in my hand, 
but when I got there, my hands were empty. 
Lost in the woods, fleeing the police, 
an ad agency man on the run. 

With one detective who believed in me, 
I might have surrendered, 
and I might have escaped sentencing, 
but I’ve run down that thought a million times. 

I’m my own historian, 
a man out on a limb, 
tracing mistakes, 
past failures, 
when all I wanted 
was the steady paycheck, 
a post-war gift,
a family, perhaps, 
now only a dream. 

They are on my trail, 
my fingerprints on a gun 
beside a dead body. 

Brad K. Hawley is a senior lecturer at Oxford College of Emory University, where he teaches American Crime Fiction. 

One thought on ““The Ad-Man” by Brad K. Hawley

  1. I love how you illustrated an image of a wrongly accused man which happens all the time to literally anyone just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Amazing, Professor Hawley!


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