Monday, February 14, 2011

The Book of Hotels, by Nicholas Shaner

This is the Book of Hotels. The ledger I record from vantage of sagging windowsills
this is the act of traveling miles
the cigarette I record with as ash into paper
this is the crack in the highway that the poetry connects
swiftly along the line of night's remainder
as roads pike with other roads and words of poems
fulfill a need for the wind, the walls of
old hotel rooms rented in grime, I secure the key
I step on in
greeted by the dust of other travelers, the clean cold
ashtray glass and cellophane-wrapped plastic cups
The question being what liquor can compel me toward
morning outside the thick curtains, what compels
me to rust like the claw-foot tub
rusted through like lives we succumbed to
when under the energy of a bare bulb my walk retraces
the pages of The Book of Hotels,
hearts of monsters and infamous foils
guiding down their arms in rags directing
me to the wind, to the outside door chained shut
rudely against the road which bears any direction

Room 105 to Room 19 to outside the city limit
sunk under a highway bridge I drag from under
the bent of traffic and railroads freighting,
I swear there's a demon beside me made from old tobacco pouches
and empty bottles, his teeth fashioned of rusty tin
and there's a stench about him nothing worse than carrion
and death
I'm following him because he's all that I have left
from what I left behind with wool covers and fitted sheets,
with ice buckets and bleached thin-towels,
as he encroaches, his fingers splayed complimentary matches
until somewhere on the periphery of that fated city
I drive my hobo knife thru his heart only to find a deadbolt
to a door, Room No. 4 where the warp of the carpet is treacherous
cockroaches scatter and I note everything down to the last cigarette burn
note that there seems to be only one escape from the greatest hotel fire in history
a fire in the room that I refuse to believe as it manifests
in a dark fever over me laying down the transparent pages of
the Book of Hotels


Nicholas Shaner is a former Kentucky author who is notorious for turning down literary engagements. Little is known about his literary career and when prompted he insists he no longer writes. He lives alone in a small town in the foothills of the appalachian mountains.

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