You are a clergyman soaring on
Job, Chapter 21... and coming down hard
near Saco, Montana: your late June
sweat could fill a rural mailbox.
You require a quiet room, a firm-like bed
with at least a thrift store counterpane
and pillows that carry no more
than a faint odor of cigarette ashes.
The hotel's first floor is empty.
Or: one room is storage for ashes
of suicides refused at a Catholic cemetery.
Someone keeps chasing away the boy
who sharpens his mail order knife
on the hundred-year-old brickwork.
The Big Dome Hotel is not
precisely in ruins. A woman in a dirty blue robe
(carved stone?) stares down at a man as he snaps
a picture from across the breath-empty street.
I'm thirsty on a skeleton-dry afternoon.
The scream of a gym class whistle
comes from the old hotel's second floor.
Seems no one in this town takes
prescription mood-turn pills.
When an ancient local schoolmarm,
straight-up-thin and stern for ninety-four years,
died in her lifetime rented-by-the-week room,
the locals found four or five Stetson hat boxes
containing canned pineapple chunks,
one lock of ash-blonde hair in an envelope,
two shotgun shells, a dried possum tongue,
and a photograph, from a holiday
in San Francisco, of live chickens
window-displayed in wire cages.
You are a recently fired (five drunkenly
wrecked white pick-up trucks) oil company exec.
The old hotel reminds you of stacks of shrink-
wrapped seventies Playboy magazines
your teenage sons have for sale on Ebay.
It reminds you of the ex wife who always
left her licked-out plastic yogurt cups
on your super-polished maple bookcase.
The hotel's front doors are locked.
Someone's coming up the street
sitting a dun mare and someone is
taking pictures from a parked car...
images you want no part of.