Mar 24, 2014

More Motel Charm, plus Mary Szybist's "Night Shifts at the Group Home"

Blue Traveler

In case you came for a poem, a discussion of Mary Szybist’s “Night Shifts in the Group Home” follows two brief travel notes from strange bedfellows on the internet. But play before work. For . . . charm? . . . the first note probably depends entirely upon high quality Kleenex. The second speaks for itself.

1     They were evaluating different TV providers so we had almost no channels all week. They paid for any guest to go see a movie in town as compensation . . . . If they get new mattresses, flat screen TVs and softer Kleenex the hotel will be up to the chain’s standards.
The Road

       2. I stayed in [that motel] for 3 days and i got bit up by bed bugs. i came back after christmas to his other motel and told him he called me a liar and didnt believe me. he said he just had it gone through and sprayed they didnt find any bed bugs. a few night later he comes to my room and chews me out telling the guys i work with about it. he said they came in with me my bag or clothes that it could have been a spider or somthing. i know that is not that case that it was his motel that i got bit up at and nothing came from my house or bags and i know it wasnt a spider. I dont appricate being called a lair or cussed out.
Convent or Group Home?

Night Shifts at the Group Home by Mary Szybist : The Poetry Foundation

The connection between motel visitors and group homes may seem thin and far-fetched, but think about it. In travel, our actual, current neighbors and our imagined past fellow travelers are arbitrarily appointed to
us, a little like the members of a group home—or boarding school, or college, or apartment building.

So the relationship between the speaker and the resident
in Mary Szybist’s “Night Shifts at the Group Home” is more universal than it might seem. The resident, apparently named Lily Mae, is some kind of patient, “older than my mother: manic, caught / up in gibberish,” while the speaker, a supervisor of some sort, a  protector and keeper of order, says, “I needed relief // from myself” and “I just didn’t love / my loneliness.”

Atlantic on Rocks, Manic, Caught Up in Gibberish
So the two end up in a somewhat forced intimacy in a single cot--the speaker’s.
Girls, Those Same Rocks

That’s a strange situation, but isn’t it just an extreme example of humans being thrown together in one or another kind of communal living? The lines and the idea I like best in this strange portrait are:

                   I imagine I 

                   was someone she won
                       at a fair as the wheel spun
     under the floating, unfaltering sun
Feeling destiny cast her about like that, plus seeing herself as a doll-object in someone else’s view, plus being pulled from her lofty intellectualization into an awareness of separate selves as inarticulate bodies—all that adds up to a supra-rational liberation for the speaker. So yes, she ends up “undone,” but “happily” so.

Grackle on Ice

Mar 16, 2014


In case you've come for a poem, here’s Detroit’s own Philip Levine on the subject of work, which seems relevant to motel dirt, as guest or as worker:  

UFO Inspector

Kite Catcher

And Wind Catcher

But moving on to new topics . . .

In roaming on some internet travel sites, I’ve found a few entertaining details about motels in the nation’s major chains. Maybe I’ll just stay home, like the guy I know who carries sterilizing spray cans with him on the rare occasions when he travels and submits to the dangers of public lodging. He wipes the rooms clean, the way a cop show's CSI might.

I shouldn’t say aloud that I’ve never had experiences like his or those below. Then again, I wasn’t looking for germs. I wonder if that’s the secret: be willfully blind; bugs and human debris will always be with ye, but ye can choose whether and whither thy vision goest thither. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out. Etc.

By the way, I’m more interested in the reviewers than the motels, so I’ve kept the original authors’ words, spelling and punctuation for authenticity, and I have not disclosed the identity of individual motels or chains—it would be unfair (and libelous?) to cast a shadow on a business because of a single review. Besides, it’s been over a year since I started this project, so I no longer recall names or places; I have plausible deniability, which I’ve always wanted more than love or money or a good crop.   

I'm limiting myself to two of these per post:

            1.  Breakfast was bad and found a very old slice of pepperoni stuck on curtain in room
                 and food crumbs under furniture and beds.
            2.  I use to be an housekeeper and maintnance person at this [motel]. People                            complaining about overbooks its not this hotels fault. It is corporates fault. The manager,      Harry, hes not the nicest guy in the world, but at times he can be very helpful.  It's not the biggest pool ever and cleaning isnt always done the fastest but what do you expect from a small town like this?
River Guardian

Protectors of All?

Lovers' Lane