The Empress Hotel and the Definition of Truth
It is the sign that catches your eye.
Nineteen forties neon, slightly chipped,
an old style font.
A thing of style belonging on an old hotel.
something from a film noir movie.
You almost expect Bogart to walk out,
cigarette dangling from his lips
as the fog wafts in from the sea.
You expect a circle of suspects,
a body in the ballroom,
a flurry of furtive looks as the lights flicker
in the sudden storm.
The feeling passes. It always does
and you fall back into reality.
The sign tops a boring square 1960’s hotel,
dull and ill kempt.
A stopping off place for college kids
and drunks who need a cheap room for the night.
You lift your camera, and shoot the sign.
No need to remember the rest of the building.
There is no poetry there.
Some things are not worth remembering,
and others are.
That is what your therapist told you,
Some are. Some aren’t
and we make the choice.
You confess it. You prefer at times your fantasy
than the truth. You prefer your memories soft.
kinder than the reality of history,
your gentler versions have helped you survive
until you were ready to hear the cold hard facts,
robbing the sharp edges of their power to cut.
Fiction, it appears, has its place.
About this poem
It’s all in the lens.