The Things Will Never Be the Same Extended Stay Hotel
The desk has grown since yesterday, the cedar
hangers have alchemized to metal wire,
and the mirror is upside down, reflecting
a body-long wrinkle on the bed.
Redial button rings a stranger.
Even in the still life above the headboard,
rearrangement has transpired—yellow pears
knocked from the burnished bowl,
a corsage posed by the fiasco of chianti,
and a chomped apple has been thrown in
so its tooth marks catch the light.
Someone has been here,
and the question is not identity
or intent, but how was it
for those bones to move in this room,
did a little toe bump the bed frame,
did that light switch turn on anything?
Pillows smell like the beloved’s breath
after a beer, but among the suspects
the beloved does not number.
I-65: The Come On Inn
The bear had just turned eighteen
when she went over the mountain
to see what she could see.
Credit and fate filled up
her tank, steered south,
and picked the room to take.
The turned down sheets were hers
to rumple as she liked;
starched cotton, broken in.
But who picked the man, the brand
of booze. Strange communion,
first drink in a Jacuzzi:
cold plane of glass between
the upheld palm and your body
submerged in warmth.
You parted the curtains,
and the length of highway lamps
and distant country music cities
—flattened to a tapestry
of muffled glinting bells
embroidered on the blackest
blanket of night to ever cover
the other side of the mountain—
was all that you could see.
The Drop-Kick Me Sweet Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life Motel
The blue-paned porthole window opens to a field
someone else dreamed up, yellowed centuries ago.
It’s pleasant to dream a stranger’s sentimental dream,
and warm, like wearing a dead grandfather’s sweater
and clenching the cuffs into fists. The walls are washed
as gray as that sweater, as if they wish to be
faring forth on the sea, away from all pastures.
The poorly appointed room has no door,
but one day, to some discerning outside eye,
the round window may look like a doorknob.
Route 6: Balmers Herberge
A field of forms
defined by lines
they make against
A pear picked up,
Knees settle down
in weeds while mountains
decide the stars.
And strangers talk
away their strangeness
with many kinds
of talk like touch.
and nudge the napes
of necks as if
had long been known.
the night before
its earthly end.
How could it last
in skin and fruit.
But don’t be bitter.
Abandoned, do not
deny what you met.
The Only Living Girl in Chicago Extended Stay Hotel
Lord You Are My Solitude, written
on the napkin left with an untaken tip.
Solitude never means just one, that
would be death. A walk is decided upon,
an exaggerated path woven again
around trunks. As night wades in, some
thing in the blood stirs to touch the bark.
Branches and leaves intone Geronimo!
altogether too calmly, as if it’s nothing
to fall and touch the ground
for the first time. If a grandfather
were here he’d say for the love of Pete
look at the time, turn on a light—
typing in the dark’s bad on the eyes.
Katie Hartsock grew up around Youngstown, Ohio, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. Her poems have recently appeared in Southern Indiana Review and Beloit Poetry Journal, and are forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, Measure, and Southwest Review. Her chapbook, Hotels, Motels, and Extended Stays, will be published by Toadlily Press in their Quartet Series this fall.