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Cheap Motels of My Youth

They lay somewhere between
the Sleeping In The Car era
and my current and probably final era,
the Best Western or Courtyard Marriott era.

The Wigwam. Log Cabin. Kozy Komfort
Hiway Haven. Star Lite. The Lazy A.

Just off the interstate, the roar
of the sixteen-wheelers all night long.
The dented tin door opening to the parking lot,
the broken coke machine muttering to itself.

“Color TV.” “Free HBO.” “Hang Yourself
in Our Spacious Closets.” A job interview
at some lost-in-the-middle-of-nowhere
branch campus of some agricultural college
devoted to the research and development
of the soybean and related byproducts.

Five-course teaching load, four of them
Remedial Comp. Candidate
must demonstrate familiarity
with the basic tenets of Christian faith.
Chance of getting the job 
one in a hundred. Lip-sticked
cigarette butt under the bed.
Toilet seat with its paper band, 
“Sanitized for Your Protection,” 
dead roach floating in the bowl. 

As the free HBO 
flickers in the background, 
you stare in the cracked mirror
at a face too young, too full of hope
to deserve this. And you wait
for the Courtyard Marriott era to arrive.

—from Cheap Motels of My Youth

Cheap Motels of My Youth

“In a way I miss those dumpy old down-at-the-heels motels of my youth, when every dollar counted. But not enough to stay in one today.

Cheap Motels of My Youth
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