Despite What You Believe In

Just because she takes
pictures of snow-packed trails
with her iPhone doesn’t mean

she’s a photographer. Writing
a text to his lover
doesn’t make him

a writer. Just because
she flies
first class overseas

doesn’t mean
she’s a pilot (or
waitress in the sky). Singing

“You Sexy Thing”
in the shower doesn’t make you
a singer or rock

star I might fall in
love with. Just because
I checked out

of the Take No Heroes Hotel
doesn’t mean
it will happen again.

Eraser Dust

A chalkboard to record the names
of childhood heroes. It would be better
if they could rhyme. It would be better

if they could be segregated
from the ones accumulated
later in life. No relatives. No future

lovers. No dead people—although
there’s one rule I might choose to break
over the sound of that ceaseless clapping.

Hermit Crab

Whoever can write
about home on demand
has never been challenged
by the prospect of losing
its meaning. The place where I was born

holds no promise
of belonging. Have seen it
once since I left at six
months. Where I met my husband
means nothing because

there is no husband. If home is
where you hang
yourself, I can almost call this town
on the Mississippi the place. Almost. But
what about The City? The Atlantic Ocean?

It could be where you build
your own Take No Heroes Hotel
from some abandoned structure
with former lives peaking through.

Take No Heroes Hotel

Everyone has reservations.
A porch no one
can describe wraps
around its house—tightening,
tightening. Hugs

the footprint as a disciple
of home is
where you check in
without a check-out time. Tin
tile ceilings in the two-story

lobby. A triangle
park and a bluff
anchor all activity
in the oceanfront garden. Bonfire
night after night where effigies

of the over-worshipped burn.
What washes ashore below

erases questions and desire
for answers. I could drag
my dinghy across the sand
and know it’s time.

Damage

She tells me to locate
my anger—to let it spill
onto your grave. Lost. No belief

in the deconstruction
myth plotting out how
you hurt me. Did you? Did I

you? Were you merely a tragic hero
I fabricated to escape
the curse

of the Take No Heroes Hotel?
No matter what she says, I may just collapse
on the cold stone

and pretend to be a peony
fluttering in strange October air.

Each time I pull out a calculator
I feel that disapproving
look outweigh your seductive
glint. It doesn’t add up—nothing

does since I discovered you
were gone to the numbers
bonfire beyond. And you’ve been monitoring
the flame for years. Where was I?

I never let you take me
to the Take No Heroes Hotel.
Now I’ve misplaced the directions
but can still prove

I haven’t lost my way. I remember
something about forgetting limits.
Let my lucky 8
get knocked down tonight.

In Situ

Her nervous system’s high
whine, his circulating blood a low
hum, their silence won’t come
the way they imagined
under these rafters at dawn. This return
to audible reality—a compulsion
to let the breath be known—weighs
on her as she steps off the back
porch. Onto pavers seeping
mud, her feet adjust to the sway. The rain
did not stop, but that wasn’t it.
Her disappearance completes
the arc of narrative
in light better than words.

Before He Died He Called Me a Star

fucker. The man who snores
in a library coffee bar,
or the man I can only hear
through home stereo speakers—only see
on screens—all strangers
who grapple with their own
mortality. I have mine. Not certain
where the intersection lies. Six degrees
or less—I never had the patience
to measure that distance. Why talk
to your brother’s roommate, when I could be
kissing you full on tonight?

The Other Inn

Mowrey’s Tavern, Cleveland House,
Dunham House, Forest City House, Hotel Cleveland,
Sheraton Cleveland, Stouffer’s Inn
on the Square,

Stouffer Tower City Plaza Hotel, Renaissance
Cleveland Hotel at Tower City
Center. Too many names spill
over her memory of Public Square, the Terminal

Tower when it was still terminal,
but nothing gives. She forgot
to take notes during the seduction.

Here it is—the reason
she built the Take No Heroes Hotel.