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2 poems by Daniel Holmes

Bourbon Orleans

If this hotel really is haunted

and the ghosts of a dozen children

persist in a space of no release,

its filmic corridors with stately molding

tailed along walls, tunnels

of a home to so many

goodly bodies, once held upon the arm

of a stranger—don’t forget me—

I’ll not fail to recall the ways

my own spirit lives here and

in the homes I’ve grown in,

opening windows, closing

in older parts of my self.

The service here

lives up to its reputation,

we’ve hardly had to lift a finger.

We’ve come here

to fill in for those who’ve left,

but the linens look new, they’ve

replaced the coffee and the soap

and I imagine that, when

the weekend is over, I’ll emerge

from this leafy, air-weighted rivertown

a walking vessel for a self

I can no longer choose to usher

abroad or leave behind.

Somewhere the children we were

are laughing, and rumpled guests

are phoning the desk

to report a disturbance.


The ocean drew back its tide to shed

seaweed along the pitted beach.

We held tight in wind, cleaved dryness in rain

In a month too cold for tourists

on a beach too loved to be a precipice,

its teeming black water a kind of reminder.

We’d leave it. How did your toes feel

in the cold, twiggy sand at night in the rain

when the person I once was told you one thing

you were ready to hear? Even the best memories

hurt in the light of decades, as time grows

upon us, withdraws, empties its waves

and speaks, refuses to speak. Inland I squinted

at that ocean hollow—our kiss in wind, our found hands.

Since then the sun has dried the dead kelp,

refined its matter among sand and shells.

Every day the waves leave new waste, the beach

becomes wild braille for someone else’s palm.


Daniel Holmes lives in Atlanta and teaches at Georgia State University. His recent writing has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Digital Americana, and Paste, and he was awarded a Hambidge fellowship in August of 2019.


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