The Hamtramck Hotel
shrinks in a desert of parking meters.
And WE NEVER CLOSE pops and blinks like a wounded eye.
And the buckled sidewalk a blood and beer stained belt
of accordion keys. And the prostitutes whistle their one note,
lips thick donuts strawberry glazed.
And the cars lay for years like stunned animals.
And the manager’s voice tumbles like dice.
And all the rooms are dark, candle stubs
gasping on the tables. And the walls are stripping
down their paint. And the plumbing has hot flashes.
And Joe’s biceps are two pigs wrestling
in a sack. And he belts the punching bag,
fists backfiring like pistons, an engine running down.
And thin walls separate lives.
And you hold back air, clutch your own fists
and wait to hear it—whatever woman moaning
low, the dull thud of the beating.
And you are glad your friends have stopped visiting.
And you turn up the radio
and hold onto the notes, a man diving
from a burning tenement holding to a mattress.
And you sleep between the station breaks.
And a rolling curtain of freight cars blocks out the river.
And the moon climbs
as the stars drip steadily into the streets.
I know The Hamtramck Hotel. I used to live there, or in a joint just like that. Winters has captured the gritty feel of that life and that place.