The hotel

I’m hoping it’s not still there
the jazz age hotel near Bourbon Street.
Perhaps there never was a white marbled entrance
an all-glass and gold rimmed foyer
and bar room on the left serving lime soaked gins.
There had to have been a pianist fingering
upbeat trad by day and the creamiest
low-down notes as the sun sank.

We ate oysters. You’d always insist
on slitting the valves. Like a sprung butterfly
the gnarled shells parted and holding them
over our drinks, I’d watch the salty liquid drip, drip.
“Liquor for liquor” our toast – a silly pun
the kind lovers make up between them
shutting out the world.

Surely there was finer dining up above
vanishing lines of balconies open to the street.
I loved the louche Louisiana nights, perfumed with cigar smoke
and sweet cloying flowers. Always that je-ne-sais-quoi
undertow, an occult thrill of something about to happen.
And then there were the bedrooms.

This far from our union, thoughts wander away.
Out into the courtyard amongst sounds of water
ice and glass. A neat scattering of wrought iron tables
and deep shade foliage. I must have sat there often,
often alone, writing poetry and letters home
pondering eternity.


Playing tricks with memory for this week’s photo prompt from the Sunday Muse. (Image by Romain Thiery ~ Abandoned in an old forgotten villa in France)

31 Comments on “The hotel

  1. A magnificent drift through time and place! This catches at the hagiography memory makes around places.

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  2. Like reading a few pages of a good novel … and wanting to read the rest!

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  3. The House of the Rising Sun played by Toussaint — seduction upon seduction. (As far as I know, he never recorded it… but if he did, it would be glorious!)

    A poem that does indeed beg to be told in full. (The best kind of poem, that smiles flirtatiously as it closes the boudoir door in the reader’s face.)

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  4. I can hear the sounds, taste the oysters , and feel the thrill. This is absolutely wonderful poetry Laura!

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  5. The is so well-written. The opening line peals and rings throughout, then in echoed loudly in the final stanza. You draw the reader deep into the privacy of this story, one that we all know well, if we allow ourselves to be honest, and then trail off with so much power at the end, that we step back and allow space. One more thing – the words you choose are perfect for the setting – soaked, drip, creamiest – the humidity of NE runs down the walls of your poem.

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    • I appreciate all the time you took for this analysis Alex – very heartening and nicely observed right down to the word choices which are the fundamentals.

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  6. It’s a privileged view of an intimate memory and you’ve conjured it so well. Imagining you there, at the wrought iron table, writing poetry. I like what you don’t say here also.

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  7. “creamiest / low-down notes” I love that language. And this: “You’d always insist / on slitting the valves. Like a sprung butterfly” fantastic.

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  8. If this is you, Sara, I envy you. Forgot that the young ladies could sit on the tables too. I had my first oyster poboy in New Orleans. Mrs. Jim is from Louisiana. M.y favorite was Preservation Hall.
    ..

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    • nope it’s Laura – part poet, part fantasist, not parting with disclosure, and mixing memories of a wonderful time in New Orleans

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  9. The narration here is smooth Laura: vivid of place last visited in ages.

    I like how you begin with a surprise question to your conscience.

    “I’m hoping it’s not still there, the jazz age hotel near Bourbon Street. Perhaps there never was a white marbled entrance, an all-glass and gold rimmed foyer and bar room on the left…”
    — Evident of someone who spent a long time alone in some beautiful place. A language of longings only self can understand.

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  10. You took me through a beautiful memory, rich with images and sound. Amazing piece

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