Poem: The Empress Hotel


The Empress Hotel

The truth is,
you know nothing about the old hotel,
one block off the ocean.

There’s just the name on the old neon sign,
the Empress Hotel,
with a tiny crown above its name.

Everything else you know lives
only in your imagination,
a nineteen fifties panoply of big fendered cars

and historic swimsuits,
ray bans and families under their broad umbrellas.
You imagine the bar, Samba music playing

and the dining room, where guests dress for dinner,
where forks and spoons cascade to each side
an almost elegance for the once a year crowd.

None of it is true, of course.
It is less than that, a bleak motel, aged and worn,
without pretense, where not even the neon works reliably.

But still, there is the sign, it’s silhouette and  steel
stark against the morning sky, a glorious promise,
rarely kept, just enough to transport you

past the grimness, and bring a smile
on this foggy morning walk through the broken places
of heartache and loss that surrounds you.

Screw reality. This is where you prefer to live.
Where there is no blood and vomit on the sidewalks,
and the Samba plays gently in the background.

About this poem

I am often accused of seeing with rose-colored glasses.

Guilty as charged. I can live with that.


PS – The picture was taken in Asbury Park

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