Steve Williams



Motel door locked, do not disturb outside, writhe
into a dark moment of sleep, scamper through pre-dawn,
forget the phone charger, again. My cell is almost dead.
Map the day in my head, another room, call my numb
wife, Linda: The cat is sick again. The vet says when a cat
is in pain, it does not remember past days of painlessness.

I lock the door: another hinged-lid ending of the undead.

Third divorce wakes me up. My daughter calls,
speaks in her mother’s voice: I hate my life.
Why can’t you come home daddy?
I ask how
the cat is: we went on a trip, she ran out of water,
died trying to get out the front door.


This motel room has expectations, sighs Katherine,
gives me an incantation to recite before
the unveiling, removal of her bra. The only place
we sleep is the tub, her quiet lies back
on my chest—she cannot sleep in bedrooms
where an ex-lover knows to find her.

Kat lay still and silent, unconscious under window,
beneath rain. I have been redeemed from dreams
of the second level of Hell – half awake in my hospital
bed. Part of my liver now regenerates in her chest.
Already she bloats from the anti-rejection cocktail.
I turn my gaze out the unlockable door.

Suitcase that never traveled until arrival
of expectations, rests by her bed. Zippered within
is a sheaf of signs. Words on each in Spanish,
French Italian, English – all the same: do not disturb.
I do not recall any room without her.

Steve lives and works in Portland, OR with a lovely woman who edits and writes much better than he does but refuses to admit it.

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