Vacancy: A Poem

They're the failing letters
of the dull neon sign
outside the motel
on the state road
that lost relevance
when the interstate
pushed through
a few years back,
taking traffic
a couple miles west
with it
and sprouting
a Motel 6,
and casino
by its banks.

The pool's been filled in
and the road
doesn't even rate
a scenic route
on the way
to grandma's anymore.

Even the gas station's
pulled up pumps,
reinventing itself
a One Stop Travel Shop
with six packs, Subway and
Krispy Kremes delivered daily,
next to the Cracker Barrel,
next to the Days Inn,
that's next to
their freshly etched
river of life.

Minivanned families
after getting gas,
miss the interstate's entrance
and find this
the first late night light
won¹t dare to stop;

They flee,
spitting up
the parking lot's gravel of
busted gin bottles,
cigarette butts,
crushed beer cans and
spent condoms,
though the theme park's still
a good day's drive,
the kids are cranky
and dad's eyelids
are way past
half mast.

They can hear
the spasms of the N
and the top half of the second
C of the VACANCY sign's
intermittent buzz
against the distant traffic¹s roar
as they vainly try to light,
occasionally flaring disturbingly,
like my thoughts,
before the first good jolt
of caffeine
kicks in.

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