SLAP (St. Lawrence Area Poets) monthly meeting in a few minutes. So once again my inspiration is peer pressure. Can’t show up empty-handed. This comes from my rare solo forays away from the North Country, usually to attend a conference in an unfamiliar city. I am, I confess, a streetwalker of sorts–the insomniac sort. Dale Hobson
The hotel room is sterile, quiet–too quiet
for your head to be a-buzz—so you go
down the elevator to the lobby, out past
the bar, too jet-lagged to endure the chatter
of strangers, past the doorman and away
from the avenue brawling with late traffic,
onto the side streets, where no one is walking,
where cats gaze out windows in meditation
at pigeons on ledges, head beneath wing.
You leave behind the phone and car keys
as you left behind home and village, work
and kin, the lights and traffic, seeking—
who can say? Wishing that the night would
swallow all this thinking, the way it swallowed
the light from over the western ocean, the way
it swallows the mutter of a television after
you pass beneath an open window.
Block after block, you try to walk out
of yourself, to reach some place where
sleep could beckon like an open door.
Just you and your shadow, that lengthens
and shortens like the slow beat of a candle
as you pass beneath the endless streetlights.
Just you and the brick echo, clicking back
like an afterthought every wakeful step.