The Ghost Hotel

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December 22, 2021 by The Citron Review

by Douglas Cole


Those who have gone before us are available
for consultations after lunch in the fire room.
From the gazebo on the north lawn you can see
in all directions. The mist is thinking of its next move,
the muscle farmers waist-deep in Penn Cove
with a full moon filling up the water and the sky.

We come here from ragged lives,
roads that gave out in the end to a rut and then
a goat path, a brief summit and sun, and of course
that ocean full of bones and voices,
more rings than the oldest tree, a typhoon in every ripple.

Gothic widows-walk and eggshell shingles
and corridors with rogue’s gallery of prospectors
and ingenues, a plaque for every celebrity
that passed through, impressions preserved in pillows.

The river rocks sing as the fire sputters,
night above collecting sparks for a mosaic of mystery
hieroglyphics—hang your best achievements
and what you’d rather forget here, crumbs
to find your way back to dust at the forest entrance.

Mystery of the admiral’s ledger, a red silk ribbon
bookmark, a language of code, combinations, recollections,
notes on being, incantations for survival in the fogs—
you can feel the impression of the letters, the weight of age
as if each page were turning to stone as you read it,
so go ahead, there’s a place for guests to make
their own entries, leave a mark, an arrow pointing the way—


Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry and The White Field, winner of the American Fiction Award. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Poetry International, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Chiron, Louisiana Literature, Slipstream, as well as Spanish translations of work (translated by Maria Del Castillo Sucerquia) in La Cabra Montes. He lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington. His website is




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