A motor hotel from the vintage decades,

the family vacation kind –

long glass windows, ice machine at the stairwell,

an unfussy modernism agreeable and trusting.

Stricken mid-sentence, still standing its ground.


The same earthen air that carried his speeches

also relayed a crack of thunder,

with a bullet close behind – the same air,

the same world of sham and sacrament,

slack and vivid, conducting the living and dead.


“Ben, make sure you play ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand’

in the meeting tonight. Play it pretty.” His final words,

recalled with telescopic precision.

The words Precious Lord a rebuke to pious forces

gathering across the street, forces always gathering.


Shame was a currency, a tool of reform. Then fear replaced it:

the fear of him, fear trickling into pews and precincts.

Vowing never to feel so afraid again,

fear stood up and took aim out the window.

The motel stands its ground, still awaiting our next move,

in light of events.

© copyright 2020 Ray Waddle



Christmas retreats into January slush,

The tale got told. Its body departed.

The season’s fluids commence

the downhill journey to elsewhere.

I step out of the aftermath and into the pub:


late-night piano, noble snare, upright bass,

and tavern drinks for all these fellow travelers,

neighbors every one. Under soft filaments

we keep a sidelong alertness, something

we heard last month about something skyward


and moving this way, deny it all you want.

Tonight feels lighter. A light is lengthening,

a fondness wells up, an urge to linger, hard to shake.

Despite solstice fatigue, everyone’s agreed,

the scene’s different tonight, deny it all you want.

© copyright 2020 Ray Waddle