All the waffles in Texas
are shaped like Texas. All
the waffles in Ohio
are shaped like waffles.
At your basic Towne Place Suites
expect egg patties with fake
yellow yolks. Spring Hill Suites
go for “scrambled” “eggs”—
nothing a Tabasco bath
can’t fix. In the Colorado Springs
Hampton Inn parking lot
my boy scout troop looked up,
third floor window: a volleyball team
showing us their cotton underwear.
They closed the curtains, laughing.
I missed it, was looking somewhere
else. Never get in line for waffles
behind a family with more than
two children. A Residence Inn
will rotate two hot dishes:
turkey sausage patties, biscuits,
or this pretty good homefries stuff
with peppers and onions. In the
Pasadena La Quinta I accidentally
kissed Lisa after a power hour
with Mike’s Hard Limeade 40s
because neither of us liked
beer yet. In the morning
she cried by the juice machine.
The key to those little milks is really
squeezing hard before you push up.
At the Best Western in Nashville
breakfast is in the bar—my brother
loved this as much as he loved watching
last night’s sad Stetson strumming
a telecaster for tips in the same room.
At the Garden City AmericInn I
spent most of Christmas night watching
Chip and Johanna as Applebee’s
lights bled through the blackouts.
How many yogurts can you fit
in your purse, and how far down
I-70 before they turn? At the Super 8
in Clearfield, Kara told me to look
at the parking lot billboard rabbits
but I just kept watching the Too Cute
marathon. Later that year we got married
in a Hyatt. For rest stop or for offramp,
in hunger and in saran-wrapped
red delicious apples and bananas
if I’m lucky. Toast the English muffin,
put the sausage and egg patty in it,
then put the whole thing in a napkin
in your pocket. I may not know
much but I know it’s five hours
to Terre Haute and they’ve got
a pretty good Fazoli’s. I may not know much
but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
The New Manifest Destiny
The Borders is closed.
the Borders are all closed.
The walls still stand but
the Borders are no longer
open. The old Borders
is wearing a Halloween
Store costume, with vinyl
“Spirit Halloween” banners
over labelscar and awnings
frayed and waving like
a mummy costume’s arms.
They’re called Ghostboxes,
these walls that used
to signify Borders and
Circuit Cities and CompUSAs
all across these United States.
The New Manifest Destiny:
buy a ghost in a box
in a Ghostbox anywhere
walls but not Borders rise
from parking lot shining
seas. Step here to see
“Churches Replacing Stores at Euclid Square Mall (with Slideshow)”
A church. Bank One:
A church. Foot Locker
A church. Foot Locker
now folding chair rows—
Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
Father, Son, and Holy
Ghostbox: What do you
want, flying buttresses?
No flying buttresses here,
just frayed sunfade banners.
Nutcracker. Dry fountain.
Dry fountain. Nutcracker.
I could get ruin porny—
18 creepiest photos,
25 spookiest pics of
the abandoned empty
Euclid Square Mall.
But Euclid Square Mall
is already documented—
decrepit, dead, dying.
Dead, dying, decrepit
on the internet; on
Sundays it’s resurrected.
Sundays it’s resurrected—
At least I assume so.
It wasn’t when I went.
When I went it was
Empty and echoing,
the locks drilled out.
The locks drilled out
under signs warning
that unaccompanied teens
aren’t allowed. Nothing
about unaccompanied poets
or unaccompanied poets
turning their notebooks
into internet slideshows.
Internet slideshow poems
of creepy images to eat.
I’ve learned, eating a ghost.
I’ve learned eating a ghost
isn’t filling, so I try to see
that people go to church.
That people go to church
here, that they can forget
that this space isn’t,
that this space wasn’t
sacred, that someone
in theory can look and see
in theory can look and see
not old stores, not death. Not
Diamond Company. Church.
In the Bathroom of the Ritz Carlton Downtown
Hey fuck you automatic faucet—
no matter what your shitty laser
eye thinks, I am a person
covered in a body with hands
covered in putrid soap that
another shitty laser eye ejaculated
onto them and here you are ignoring
me while somehow making me feel
unclean. On, you sullen stainless robot.
I don’t want the guy with the mouthwash
and mints to see me thrashing soapy hands
below your unblinking eye. Whose idea
was it to put lasers on faucets, anyway?
Is it another way to rid the Ritz of riffraff?
It’s like you know I’m more Fairfield Inn
than Ritz Carlton, that I’d rather
whoosh through a laser door—
and those lasers always see me—
than have one opened for me
by a dude in a silly hat. What about
the people who have to pee but are
more Super 8 than Farfield? More crashing
on their brother’s couch than Super 8?
People who open their own doors?
People who never go through doors at all?
Do your North Carolina cousins demand
birth certificates before turning on?
My friend is convinced you all ignore him
because his palms are dark. Fuck you
and fuck this place and fuck the politics
of pissing downtown, where bathrooms
are reserved for paying customers or
people who can get over feeling like
a third grader long enough to ask
for the keys please at the desk. How
many doors, how many times
did I have to prove my jeans
were nice enough before I could be
permitted entry to this marbled
echo vault where all I can see
in a spotless wall-sized mirror
while you refuse to see me
or my silent soapy prayer?
Song of My Suburb
after Brian Ulrich
Pour one out for Blockbuster.
Pour one out for Borders.
Pour one out for the old
Giant Eagle where we’d linger
under parking lot LEDs after
Applebee’s half price apps.
Pour one out for Circuit City
that turned into Best Thrift
that turned into an empty
Circuit City-shaped building.
Pour one out for Dana’s old
driveway where I kissed her
across the armrests in her
mom’s minivan and she
laughed at me. Pour one
out for all the abandoned
minivans somewhere in
minivan heaven or where-
ever they go after the kids
go to college. Pour one out
for the empty CVS that
used to be a full CVS that
used to be another cornfield
next to another cornfield
where I once got a kiss
and a fairly serious rash.
Do it. Invert your Code
Red Mountain Dew. Pour
out your blue Powerade.
Pour out your stripmall heart
onto this asphalt, onto the spaces
way out by the sidewalks that
never fill except when buried
under mountains of brown snow.