Overheard in the Love Hotel by Robert Polito

BOMB 53 Fall 1995
Issue 53 053  Fall 1995

Again the cab slips west down 14th almost
To the river—
The cobbled meat market, steel grates down;
A thrown-up Christmas tree
Lot on an old dock beyond the stalled highway;
A whiff of blood and the first snow
That keeps not falling.

We’ve just checked into the Love Hotel—
Film noir signatures on the register:
“Tom Neal,” “Ann Savage”;
Spouses discarded, even her
Two other lovers forsaken at the bolted door.

Fading polyester roses drape the bed—matching
Trellis on an overhead mirror; evening breeze
Out of Hoboken through cracked panes
—Nothing can dispel the half-life traces of Roach Bomb
She chases with a blunt cigar …
“So sexy you brought these. This is sweet—
And throws a little curve into the day.”

Blue ice pail: Absolut from a frosted cup.
Raking her new coil of yellow curls,
“Can you picture me with grey hair?
My mother passed her forties as a blonde;
Now you know my true color—

You and a few others.”
Wrapping her ankles around his, she pins
Him on the spread
As from a room upstairs springs rattle a finish;
“It’s like I’m one of them …
All the passion, the ecstasy—
We spend the rest of our lives trying to deny.”

Reflected along the ceilings, freckles
From her back rotate constellations
He traces like a blind man reading a star map;
“You’ve got to see who I am—
These yearnings, sometimes they last two years,

Or they can burn out after all of seven seconds;
But they’re intense, and very real.”
The wall phone rings—Twenty minutesplease.
“I wish I could say I didn’t know
How they call just before your time’s up,
Or not getting your hair wet in the shower,
The towels that irritate your skin”—

Six-inch scar across her panty-line
Where last spring the surgeon
Scooped out her insides,
Reddening with soap and steam;
And still stings when she wears silk.

Outside, snow holding. Another cab.
“Where was I, tonight? I’ve been
Lying to Paul about Michael, Michael about Paul;
And to Stanley about both of them …
Only you have the whole story.
First time I lie to you—
Then you’ll know we’re really going someplace.”

Excerpt from Sent by Joshua Cohen
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BOMB 53, Fall 1995

Featuring interviews with Jo Baer, June Jordan, Kelly Reichardt, Abel Ferrara, Catherine Murphy, Mac Wellman, Lucie Brock-Broido, Wayne Wang, and Roy Hargrove.

Read the issue
Issue 53 053  Fall 1995