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   Room 63 • Poetry Hotel 

Six Poems / Ellaraine Lockie 

 

IN BED WITH EDGAR ALLAN

AT THE SYLVIA BEACH HOTEL  

What woman would think the ending

could be so exquisitely executed

in the arms of Edgar Allan Poe

That he could be more comforting

than all those support groups

books, herbs and hormones

This man who understood loss, mourning

and madness better than any of them

 

Across the blood-red and black room

a stuffed raven witnesses the war

between acceptance and never-ending longing

for when life still bloomed and seeds flowered

A battle Lenore didn't live long enough to fight

 

My resolve swings as polemic

as the plastic pendulum with scythe above the bed

Insomnia sends me to Poe's bookshelf

Where I find a tortured prisoner

who realizes there is no choice but death

before he is snatched from its immediacy

 

And I am rescued with him

Anxiety lifts with the moon which spotlights

the bricked-over passage painted on the wall

Not even the tip of Fortunato's hat

squeezed from brick before his bibliophilic fate

keeps me from falling into the abyss of sleep

 

The circular vise of night

Hot and sweaty before the tidal wave of chills

An awakening in a pool so red and spread

that the maid will think abortion with coat hanger

Instead of a harbinger for barren

Or hell's fire flooded one final time

Cramps, craziness, leaks and stench

being what the raven meant when it said Nevermore

 

Note: Each room in the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, honors a famous writer.

-------------------------

ONE NIGHT STAND

 

Twenty six miles of insulation

from Los Angeles insanity

lies Santa Catalina island

Ocean mountain merged

in a past paradise

 

Where people drive

golf carts instead of cars

And mail isn't delivered by either

Where economy is the shape

of sightseers brought by boats

 

I arrive spent from deadlines

Energy fogged over

and solar lifeline depleted

European atmosphere envelopes me

with back-to-belly bodies

 

But populations of poppies

fish, fowl, unpredatored cats

and outback buffalo

lure me away from  

the tourist tug of war

 

I lodge with Zane Grey

my idol-author ghost

in the cactus-covered hillside haven

To lie in literary lust

at his Pueblo Hotel panacea

 

Ride the purple sage

Discover desert gold

Spark my wildfire spirit

in one sleepless night

 

Like a quickie with

an accomplished lover

Catalina will shadow my trails

on the next sunlit day

-------------------------

SISTER OF NARCISSUS

After the photo, “Self-Portrait” by Sienna Brown

 

As she freed water from the bathtub

there clinked six times a knock of metal

She rose, wrapped a towel around her

and looked through the peephole

in the hotel room door

 

Seeing nothing she said Who's there

Who's there repeated a voice

heavy with the weight of an octave

Show yourself so I may decide she said

The deep echo in the hall said the same

 

She, having little interest in imitation

and being a modern woman wet with desire

opened the door and dropped the towel

He being an age-old fool of a man

stepped from the wall in a pool of drool 

 

She smacked him in the face with the door

Retired to her king-sized waterbed

Listened to a litany of rejected voices

And laughed

-------------------------

ANYWHERE HOTEL                        

                                                                                               

I turn down the covers to find

a curly blonde pubic hair on the bottom sheet                                   

A violation of the virginity code

contracted with the hotel

Accommodations where we pretend

no other occupants have prefaced

 

We depend on hotel personnel

to master this immaculate deception

To protect us from thoughts of

used condoms, blood stains or other body fluids

To turn the toilet into a chastity belt

Free us from fear of bare bottoms in the bathtub

Whether towels or washcloths have touched foot fungus

Or if anonymous streptococcus has been sterilized

 

But now worries from the real world

weave through this ringlet

Wind around my sense of solitude

And snarl into a ball that clogs my drain of delusion

Exposing images of strangers

Voyeur bed reverberations

Smells of unfamiliar aftershave

And ghosts in mirrors with memory

in this serial monogamy of one-night stands

 

Where I resign to the reality of a rented room

Where it’s midnight

and housekeeping has gone home

I Google germs in hair

to find there are millions in one follicle

But that most die in 60 seconds

I pull on sweats before sliding between sheets

And into the immaculate world of Morpheus

-------------------------

BIDET IN A HAIBUN

 

The bathroom hosts a bidet. It squats like a toilet that hasn't yet grown up.  

I wonder why a five-star hotel in Florence would harbor such antiquity. My husband and I keep

dirty thoughts from soiling our conversation. We walk a wide berth around the relic.

 

Bouquet in a vase

Sunflowers nod their welcome

Poppy turns its back

 

On day two, curiosity narrows the path around the bidet. What is its function? A urinal for men

perhaps. A toilet for tots. Or their drinking fountain. Maybe a women's lingerie tub. A bathtub

for babies. A bottom wash for adults.

 

The husband makes his own assumption. He washes his feet in it after a day of museums, tours

and shopping. No way would I sit in it now. But I turn-on the faucets. See how the bowl fills fast

with fresh water.

 

Arno River runs

under Ponte Vecchio

Tuscan sun dazzles

 

Day three and I'm embarrassed to ask about the bidet. I do what any modern traveler would: I

Google on my laptop. I read that bidets are as common as toilet paper in much of the world. That

toilet paper is unhygienic. Americans are unhygienic.

 

Light from the full moon

floods the bed where she sleeps

Red colors the sheets

 

Day four I follow instructions on Google. Face the wall. Straddle the thing. Turn faucets.  Basin

fills. Water like a spring brook. A linen towel on a rack. The online address where I order my

own Biffy bidet converter. Works on any American toilet.

-------------------------

WHY I DON'T SHOWER

 

            I’m a bath person. I’ve never showered in my own home. And hardly ever

anywhere else. Only when a bathtub is non-existent. Then only when my husband says

it’s either a shower or a separate bed.

            Like in Berlin, where I accompanied him on a business trip. There a week with a

closet size bathroom. The shower like an upright coffin. After five days of cowboy baths,

I prepare for the real thing.  Lock all the windows and doors, so as not to wind up a

Hitchcock corpse sitting in some psycho’s rocking chair.

           I skeptically step into the shower stall. Turn the control handle. The first blast

rates right up there with a Montana blizzard. I make three minutes of adjustments to the

temperamental handle until it agrees to a tolerable temperature.

            I soap up, down and around--once for each disregarded, dirt- collecting day. Now

to figure out how to shave my legs when there isn’t space to bend over. The only sensible

solution is to open the shower door and stick out one wet leg at a time for the shearing.

           Stork balancing not being one of my strengths, I fall into the fiberglass wall

repeatedly. With each imbalance, a new red line paints itself down a leg. I now see why

German women don’t shave.

           Next is my hair. I bend my head forward, flip hair over head, and water fills my

ears. When I squeeze the shampoo tube, hydraulic force flushes the contents into my

eyes.

           Eyes burning and closed, I reach for the control handle but grab a steel cord

instead.  Something comes loose, and the hand-held showerhead hits me on my left ear.

Then the water stops.

           The control handle hates me by now so refuses to entertain even pathetic pleas. I

stumble, soapy and nearly blind with a slight concussion, out of the stall. Slip on tile

where water has escaped during the leg shave and land on my tailbone.  

           I crawl naked to the telephone in the freezing bedroom. The desk clerk says the

shower is on a timer. But if I wait awhile, it will reset.

           I limp back to the bathroom. Settle my soap-caked, bleeding body sideways on

the towel-cushioned toilet and baby-talk the control handle. Just when the rash on my

chest begins to itch, water emerges from the spigot. So I start the temperature guessing

game all over again.

           Determined this time to rinse and be out of here in record time, I am. Because

suddenly the water turns scalding hot. I scream, and a man in the next room yells an

apology for turning on the cold water tap in his sink.

           Boiled, bruised, anemic and hearing impaired, I’m ready to see through stinging

eyes the Berlin sights. Of course, they don’t care one way or the other whether I’m clean.

But at least I won’t go to bed in a roll-a-way when I get back.

-------------------------

Ellaraine Lockie is widely published and awarded as a poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Her fourteenth chapbook, Sex and Other Slapsticks, was recently released from Presa Press. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England Competition, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award.    

           Ellaraine’s poems have found their ways onto broadsides, buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, key chains, bookmarks, mugs, coffee sack labels, church bulletins, radio shows and cable TV as well as into hundreds of national and international journals, magazines and anthologies. She has received multiple fellowships/ residencies from both Summer Literary Seminars and the Centrum Literary Residency Program. Thirty of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Ellaraine teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.  

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Sienna Brown is a Bay Area photographer who specializes in body parts.

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Acknowledgements: "In Bed with Edgar Allan at the Sylvia Beach Hotel" first appeared in Oregon Writers Colony Colonygram; "One Night Stand" first appeared in MG Versions (France); "Sister of Narcissus" first appeared in Shakespeare's Monkey Revue (Australia); "Anywhere Hotel" first appeared in Ibbetson Street; "Bidet in a Haibun" first appeared in Barbaric Yawp; "Why I Don't Shower" first appeared in Long Story Short.

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Self Portrait by Sienna Brown.j

Self Portrait by Sienna Brown

Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

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