Poem by W.D. Snodgrass

Outside, the last kids holler
Near the pool: they’ll stay the night.
Pick up the towels; fold your collar
Out of sight.

Check: is the second bed
Unrumpled, as agreed?
Landlords have to think ahead
In case of need,

Too. Keep things straight: don’t take
The matches, the wrong keyrings–
We’ve nowhere we could keep a keepsake–
Ashtrays, combs, things

That sooner or later others
Would accidentally find.
Check: take nothing of one another’s
And leave behind

Your license number only,
Which they won’t care to trace;
We’ve paid. Still, should such things get lonely,
Leave in their vase

An aspirin to preserve
Our lilacs, the wayside flowers
We’ve gathered and must leave to serve
A few more hours;

That’s all. We can’t tell when
We’ll come back, can’t press claims,
We would no doubt have other rooms then,
Or other names.

NOTE: William DeWitt Snodgrass (1926-2009) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1960. He is considered a leading figure — along with Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton — in the confessional school of poetry.

Photo: Built in 1946, the Olive Motel is an old-school motor court motel located at 2751 Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. I’ve driven past this place countless times and always figured it was abandoned — but from what I gather via Google, it’s still in business.