business trip

little brother jack is there
two flights down sinkwater running
his careful beard and wrinkled boy’s face
much older than molly only two doors down
the lazy slap of expenseaccount bathwater
running through one career out the other
bringing us at last to john
the snake penguin down the hall
painting his hair out from where it is
to where it he thinks it should be
his delightful banter sprinkling like poison
over everything sacred and unknown

in this room
this hand recording all three
on complimentary stationary
when I hear a door slam
a busboy freezing in a tshirt
stands outside in the alley
outside history clearing ice away
so he can open the storageroom door
colorless in the cold fluorescent light
that runs down through his body
into the ground way way way
below the hotel

1974