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Born in the Belly of the Belmont Hotel [by Mitch Sisskind]

Diversey arms














Born in the belly of the Belmont Hotel 
Near the end of the war. At the Belden-Stratford,
I received my education. The Park Lane?
Hours there in the coffee shop. The Webster 
Is where I will die, unless at the Rienzi Hotel. 
For many years I lived at the Diversey Arms.

Frolicsome, young-lamb-like, the Diversey Arms
Scorned that orthopedic grandma, the Belmont Hotel,
While the temperate latitude of the Rienzi Hotel
Was my standby, as too was the Belden-Stratford,
Where Al Farber's Steak Room was, or the Webster
Which had no barbershop -- and the Park Lane . . .

Let me tell you something about the Park Lane:
There were holographic ghost girls. The Diversey Arms
Claimed Elmer Horwich but he died at the Webster;
Elmer wolfed down chopped liver at the Belmont Hotel.
He should have gone to Farber's at the Belden-Stratford,
Or stayed sequestered, ensconced, at the Rienzi Hotel. 

For a time Charlie Livingston lived at the Rienzi Hotel
Until, after Elmer Horwich died, he left the Park Lane
For Elmer's old Rienzi room, and at the Belden-Stratford
Looked down his nose at the puerile Diversey Arms.
His bed was at the Belden-Stratford and at the Belmont Hotel.
He flossed his teeth, struggling not to end up at the Webster.

Oh Christ, I am so royally fucked at the Webster
And I am completely fucked at the Rienzi Hotel.
What did I think would happen at the Belmont Hotel,
Where I am also fucked, or at the Park Lane
Where I am fucked. At the Diversey Arms
I am fucked. I am fucked at the Belden-Stratford.

Whew. Just whew. I feel better at the Belden-Stratford.
I lie on the bed and stare at the ceiling at the Webster.
I watch puppy videos, kitten videos at the Rienzi Hotel.
One morning, or one evening, I’ll die at the Diversey Arms,
Or some blazing afternoon at the Park Lane
But I was born in the belly of the Belmont Hotel!

Must I remember the Belmont Hotel? Will the Belden-Stratford,
The Park Lane, the Rienzi Hotel forever haunt my thoughts? 
Or the Webster, faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne? The Diversey Arms?

September 13, 2021

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That Ship Has Sailed
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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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