Poem of the day, Hotel World, by Bill Chance

“The landscape is best described as ‘pedestrian hostile.’ It’s pointless to try to take a walk, so I generally just stay in the room and think about shooting myself in the head.”
― David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Magnolia Hotel (Pegasus) and Joule Hotel (pool) Dallas, Texas

Hotel World, by Bill Chance

There are many worlds right under our noses. Worlds separated not by time, nor by space, but mostly by point of view. We move alongside, drive right by, back and forth flowing, unaware of each other, lost in our own perspective.

Today I entered

Hotel World

Not the Bates Motel
No single line of cheap rooms and faint smell of mold, tired truckers and travelers and clandestine passionate meetings.
no, this is the
Business Hotel World

Fighting dawn traffic to the

Tarmac Sea ,

parking lot landscaped with islands of flowers, shredded bark, popup sprinklers.
Uncomfortable Clothing
Tour Busses
Parking lot walk – looking around, briefcases and shoulder bags
Hispanic maids with beige skirts
Staff in Maroon Sweater Vests
in Blue Suits with Big Plastic ID Badges
Perfect Strangers going the same place as me.

I enter, come closer to the heart, smell that

Lobby Smell

A hodgepodge of art, Copies of Oriental vases next to huge Faux Impressionist Landscapes next to chunks of Fake Aztec Friezes
Colors green gold navy, mottled patterns, mixed chairs couches marble coffee tables.
What focus group picked these fabrics, combinations? What corporate meeting spawned this look?
Banks of pay phones – most empty nowadays – replaced by groups of men talking on cell phones, pacing back and forth.

The tall lobby giddies overhead
Rows of identical rooms fronted by identical balconies identical planters of plastic ivy
a demonstration of perspective
an expensive frame to a huge hexagonal skylight high overhead.

Elevators ding
Breakfast dishes clank, a background hum of conversation
my pager buzzing even though it’s barely seven,
here sitting hear, I’ve heard at least five languages

Along the Perimeter

Rooms with odd British names:
maybe meant to add at touch of class here on the blasted prairie
Warwick, Churchill, Windsor I, Windsor II, Windsor III, Windsor IV
Signs announce Mysterious Meetings:
OMGI Training Formation
Quality Systems Training
TRII Sales Meeting
Fortune Twelve Management

Inside the Room

The instructor says hello at the door, I can tell he wants to hear my name, “Bill” I say
I know he has memorized it, he gets paid for this.
Rows of long tables covered in white cloth
Candy dishes, glasses arranged upside down, Steel pitchers of ice water
Condensation Beading attractively on the curved flanks.
Coffee Pitchers
Piles of Danish
I choose an apple and an unexpectedly stale bagel
wait for the seminar to begin.

I choose a seat on the

Front Row

I’m the first one there
Everyone else fills up the back
The last late arrivals fill up my front row
sit next to me
Trade names, cards, tales of awful traffic,
surprisingly friendly, genuine smiles
it’s nice to talk to a real human here

In the Hotel World

A Poem For Today: ‘To Those Who Follow in Our Wake by Bertolt Brecht

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality
but a hammer with which to shape it.”
― Bertolt Brecht

Sunset on the Caribbean, taken what feels like a long, long time ago

Let’s see… it started with me wanting to do some writing and not having any ideas… so I pulled a three card spread from my edition of Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot.

It came up King of Pentacles, The Hermit, and Justice.

Justice card from Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot.

Some research, some reading, and I ended up looking into Bertolt Brecht and, specifically, one poem.

I wish I spoke German – the various translations I looked at were very different – I think we are missing a lot in translation – but it is still something to read and think about.

Brecht ‘To Those Who Follow in Our Wake


Truly, I live in dark times! An artless word is foolish. A smooth forehead Points to insensitivity. He who laughs Has not yet received The terrible news.

What times are these, in which A conversation about trees is almost a crime For in doing so we maintain our silence about so much wrongdoing! And he who walks quietly across the street, Passes out of the reach of his friends Who are in danger?

It is true: I work for a living But, believe me, that is a coincidence. Nothing That I do gives me the right to eat my fill. By chance I have been spared. (If my luck does not hold, I am lost.)

They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad to be among the haves! But how can I eat and drink When I take what I eat from the starving And those who thirst do not have my glass of water? And yet I eat and drink.

I would happily be wise. The old books teach us what wisdom is: To retreat from the strife of the world To live out the brief time that is your lot Without fear To make your way without violence To repay evil with good – The wise do not seek to satisfy their desires, But to forget them. But I cannot heed this: Truly I live in dark times!


I came into the cities in a time of disorder As hunger reigned. I came among men in a time of turmoil And I rose up with them. And so passed The time given to me on earth.

I ate my food between slaughters. I laid down to sleep among murderers. I tended to love with abandon. I looked upon nature with impatience. And so passed The time given to me on earth.

In my time streets led into a swamp. My language betrayed me to the slaughterer. There was little I could do. But without me The rulers sat more securely, or so I hoped. And so passed The time given to me on earth.

The powers were so limited. The goal Lay far in the distance It could clearly be seen although even I Could hardly hope to reach it. And so passed The time given to me on earth.


You, who shall resurface following the flood In which we have perished, Contemplate – When you speak of our weaknesses, Also the dark time That you have escaped.

For we went forth, changing our country more frequently than our shoes Through the class warfare, despairing That there was only injustice and no outrage.

And yet we knew: Even the hatred of squalor Distorts one’s features. Even anger against injustice Makes the voice grow hoarse. We Who wished to lay the foundation for gentleness Could not ourselves be gentle.

But you, when at last the time comes That man can aid his fellow man, Should think upon us With leniency.

–Bertolt Brecht, An die Nachgeborenen first published in Svendborger Gedichte (1939) in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 4, pp. 722-25 (1967)(S.H. transl.)

Sunday Snippet, Poem?, Modern Poetry by Bill Chance

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement . . . says heaven and earth in one word . . . speaks of himself and his predicament as though for the first time. It has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose in half the time, and the drawback, if you do not give it your full attention, of seeming to say half as much in twice the time.

—-Christopher Fry

Woman listening to a poetry reading by Mad Swirl – at The Independent Bar and Kitchen, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Modern Poetry

There is a poetry to daily
so empty of everything else.
The staccato rhythm of the
traffic reports
off on the shoulder
one lane only
Or the shouts of the Barista
as he calls out the orders
(actually, I think
he’s making most of that stuff up).

And though my lawn has gone to weeds
there is still a bird
that kawarbles at me
as I put the key
in my car
to drive to work.

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Bad Poetry Tonight by Bill Chance

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that it is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know it is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?

—-Emily Dickinson

Woman listening to a poetry reading by Mad Swirl – at The Independent Bar and Kitchen, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Bad Poetry Tonight

Craig arrived early and promptly fell asleep in one of the old overstuffed chairs in the reading area. He woke up drooling on himself when the reading began.

This month’s reader, Harriet Von Snapple, was introduced as not only a poet but an amateur hard rock singer and harpist that had recently come out with a solo CD, Smeebage and Mung, after a stint with bands Creamy Blue Cheese Undressing and Schlitz the Prophet. She was different than the usual poets in that she was attractive and confident.

Her poetry was awful, but Craig liked what she said before she read her first work, “I work long hours for this awful man and I look busy and stressed but I live with it because I’m really sitting there writing bad poetry all day.”

Sunday Snippet, Poem, Slug On My Stoop by Bill Chance

“All we do is sleep, and eat and lay around and make love. We’re like slugs. Slug-love, I call it.”

― Charles Bukowski, Women

Snails on a Beer Stein.

Slug On My Stoop

There was a slug on my stoop

there on the concrete
as I walked to the car
to drive to the club
for some exercise.

Moving slowly
in the
Yellow porch light.

Some don’t like slugs
but I don’t mind,
mind their little heads
lookin’ around
for what?
slugs don’t think about
the nature of art
but I don’t mind
eyes on posts
slug body

I think it is too cold
too late
for slugs

It was late and dark
I spent too much time today
lying on the couch
resting, thinking, dreaming,
the deadly black
remote in my hand
the death of life, of thought.

Slugs like summer
not cold rough concrete
October stoop
they like eating
children’s lettuce
going Duh Duh Duh

The little head
eyes on poles
what does it dream?
of summer? Warm and wet?
Children’s lettuce?
I dream of wind waving cream colored fabric
dappled sunlight
dabs of sun dabs of green
a dropping away
a flower unfolding and blooming before me
a lake through mesh
gold minted coins

When I came home
the slug was gone

I think it is
too cold
too late
for slugs

I Look Into My Glass – another poem

“Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?”


“All like ours?”

“I don’t know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound – a few blighted.”

“Which do we live on – a splendid one or a blighted one?”

“A blighted one.”

― Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The other day I wrote about a Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium. In doing some research about that poem – a reference to another poem with a similar theme kept coming up – I Look Into My Glass, by Thomas Hardy. I decided to share it here.

I Look Into My Glass

I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, ‘Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!’

For then I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
With equanimity.

But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.

I know how that feels. For decades I have learned to get ready in the morning without really even looking in the mirror. To do so would make the day too hopeless.

That Is No Country For Old Men

“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else.”
― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

Cadillac Ranch - Old Guys Rule
Old Guys Rule, Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

At lunch today (it’s amazing how not-enjoyable no-carbohydrate food gets after a few months) I took a break and hit the ‘web. I stumbled across a well-known Yeats poem – Sailing to Byzantium – which gave the title to a Cormac McCarthy novel and eponymous film. I read the poem a few times and copied key lines into my commonplace book – it spoke to me.

There is plenty of commentary on this famous poem… you can do a google search if you like. But it’s pretty simple and terribly easy to understand – especially for someone past a certain age.

So here it is, without any further ado from me.

Sailing to Byzantium



That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.


An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.


O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.


Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Short Story of the Day, Poetry, Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

“The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.”
― Billy Collins

This woman was waving a turkey leg out of her food trailer. When someone came up to buy one, she said, “Let me get you a fresh one hon, this is my demo model, I’ve been waving it out this window for hours.”

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, September 29, 2001. Exactly twenty years ago.


Nicholas had accumulated two free tickets and a two-for-one coupon for the Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer team game tonight. He asked a kid from his team to go with us and Candy and I used the two-for-one.

Dallas has built a new sports arena – but the Sidekicks, practitioners of a non-major, second or third tier (for Texas, anyway) sport remain in the old, smaller, less tony, and luxury skybox-less arena. Fine with us. The smaller place is more intimate and you can see the game better.

Most important of all, the nachos (actually a skimpy paper holder with some stale chips and two tiny plastic cups – one full of motor-oil-like fake cheese sauce, the other loaded with some sort of brown bland bilious chili-resembling substance) are sold sans jalapenos, but there are condiment stands nearby with all the sliced peppers you can pile on. I piled on plenty. As a matter of fact, I made two trips from our seats up and back to the condiment stand for more hot peppers. I was going to buy a Diet Dr. Pepper but while I was in line the guy in front of me ordered a beer and it simply looked too good to pass up. The beer and nachos came to nine dollars and fifty cents.

That’s what sports is all about, isn’t it. I was sitting in a cramped plastic arena seat drinking a five-dollar lukewarm beer and eating grease laced with so many hot peppers the top of my head sweated. I had to keep rubbing my hair because so much capsicum-induced heat was rising up and shooting out the top of my head.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

And a piece of poetry for today:

Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

from West Texas Literary Review

Magnetic Refrigerator Poetry

“To be nobody but
yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
― E.E. Cummings

Downtown Fort Worth, Texas

I found this image while I was cleaning up some files – it’s from 2008 (I think) – before I started this (version) of my journal. I had no memory of putting this together. The note with it said, “From a magnetic poetry app on my iPod touch,” which means it’s already technologically from the time of the dinosaurs.

Magnetic Refrigerator Poetry from my old iPod Touch.

Poetics Practicum

Labor well the minute particulars, take care of the little ones
He who would do good for another must do it in minute particulars
General Good is the plea of the Scoundrel Hypocrite and Flatterer
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars
—-William Blake

I have no idea how I stumbled across what I stumbled across – but that is the way of the internet. I was surfing around looking at information/hints/tips on creativity and writing poetry. I found a reference to a list of writing inspiration by Allen Ginsberg. It was called Mind Writing Slogans and was a collection of eight four quotes from various writers (including himself) or philosophers that have some applicability or inspiration to modern poetry.

Trying to track down a clean version of this list I came across a larger work. It was called Poetics Practicum and contained the Mind Writing Slogans as part of the text.

Here’s a link to a PDF version of Poetics Practicum

The document seems to be something that Allen Ginsberg cobbled together from a number of sources to use as a text in his college poetry classes. There is a lot of cool, useful, and informational stuff in there. It’s not in the best format – but I like the ragged typography and mixed-up sources… makes it friendlier.

So I’m going to keep this document handy and look at it when I need some inspiration. There is a lot I can learn.

But more importantly… shouldn’t I make up something like that myself? I can imagine I’m teaching a class in something… something other than chemistry. Then I could make up my own brochure – a ragged list of lists – to put into print and commit to paper some words of wisdom that I can make my own.

I like that idea.