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.


    Tourists


    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.