Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Digital Clock Hotel
South of Hartford, Connecticut

by Noel J. Hadley

I kid you not. Pain and agony – there
is no healthier way to put it.
To say my bones ache, ha! I think my spine
just exploded. All night iron
fists pulsate my back. And then, reaching for
pain killers, a land mine detonates!

That is about the extent of my night –
In bed, cold, swallowed in agony.
I shall never forget the sting of death,
as though all my youth had been bested,
beaten in one final blow to the bone.
That is the full degree of the night.

Except I have failed to cite the length of
the slow drive through a despondent blizzard,
and how, when pulling off the interstate
I spilled charred coffee across my lap.
The only hotel was blistered in heaps.
True, but everyone swore it wasn’t.
The gas station attendant, the Waffle
House hostess – they pointed me in this
direction. Five times – Yes, I say five times
I spun my car down the icy hill,
crossing ghost paths with a charcoaled hotel.
Then, on my sixth try, I kid you not,
I stumbled upon this place, VACANCY
sign aglow – the V and N darkened.

That is about the extent of the night.
Now I am in bed passing the time.
Cold, broken, alone – Death molested me.
Where are you youth? We were together
for a moment, it seems, or perhaps two.
A moment, a day, a week, decades,
what does it matter? Everything before
perdition is a childhood dream. Now
seconds tick as minutes – hours as days.
Please, grant me the breath to kiss the flesh
of youth, if only in a lucid dream.
To grace, let me sleep, fashion a beard.
I fear I shall never leave this place – that
the sun shall never rise – that this
bed should always plague my bones – this hotel,
that it would descend into ashy
embers, plowed by an eternal blizzard,
that I should be a covetous ghost
in winter, always alone, – craving youth.

So, that is the extent of the night.
Still, the part that I will not soon forget
isn’t the blizzard, coffee, hostess,
burnt down hotel in heaps, nor corpse groans.
The greatest torments of hell rest not
in those, but in the damned digital
timepiece taunting me from the in-table.
Yes, taunt! That miserable device,
inching ever so slowly through the night.

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