15.4.14

Between Two Deserts

I don't always write narrative poetry. When I do, I write speculative narrative poetry.

--

My malady came from an old hotel
Where time ain't much of consequence
Heard 'bout it riding trains to Baghdad
Drinking coffee to ease my mind

Not every traveler finds it
These Turks said with some disinterest
So I asked 'em what to look for
Got told I could mind my business

Old Colt Army had I
Put to the Turk's eye
Found it in his heart
To loosen that tongue

Tells me about this half-blown town
Nestled 'tween desert and ocean
And every night the dying sun
Points through the square where time's tides run

Aims at a hotel, tall and orange
Flanked by palms and tents and fountains
"But wait for sundown," whined the Turk
"It is only found in the last light of day."

In the square, my back to the sea
I sit a spell and wait, and wait
Watching shadows paint a withered finger
Scratching at the hotel's old side-door

I brush off the dust, walk toward that door
Its hinges shriek like locomotive brakes
Find myself followin' my own
Dusty boots into the darkness

Before eyes have time to adjust
An Englishman says, "Good evening
"But it troubles me to ask, sir,
"Your name. Have you reservations?"

"Not as such," I say. "As for names,
"Let's just say I'll tempt the fates.
"Once claimed bounty on wanted men
"Faked my death, now here I am."

Was then my eyes could see the man
Pale blue ghost, with a tall head wrap
Eyed me awhile, smiled, and said,
"Checkout by noon, my American friend."

With that he vanished, like the heat
Inside was cool and candle-lit
Found my room, looked to the courtyard
Saw the only other guest I'd see

Oriental lady
Says with a perfect New York lilt
"Kissing you takes me
To a better time."

Next day, that strange woman was gone
But she left a letter I still keep
Got out of bed, threw my clothes on
Dropped off my key and didn't look back


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