The Poetry Hotel

At the Civic Center Bart Station
Carlos, Dan and I had a vision
to take possession of the Mission Street Marriott
after we win the lottery.We will renovate the building
knock everything down to its bones.
With imagination, joy, and persistence
we give birth to the Poetry Hotel.When you enter the Poetry Hotel,
observe the grand reception hall.
Poets check in with a poem
check out with a new chapbook.

The ground floor is reserved for first drafts
the second floor is for revision.
From the third to the twentieth floor
there are chutes and ladders built especially
for the out of bounds writers.

All the rooms have the essential
desk, chair and bed,
an unlimited supply of paper, and
ink gel pens to write with.

There are numerous libraries
each named after a poet.
Collections of works are readily available
for reference, research and reading.

As for dining, the Poetry Café
serves daily a scrumptious buffet.
Muffins, puddings and all sorts of pies,
thick soups, black coffee, exotic teas
to nurture the poetic belly.

Every evening there is a gathering
new and old poems are read.
Cakes and champagne are served afterwards
to celebrate the creation of words.

This enterprise is run so successfully
it is franchised throughout the world.
All the poets in this planet
come home to the Poetry Hotel.

Carlos, Dan and I blinked
as we stepped into the train.
It was filled with sleepy people
who wanted to get home quick.

Days of work and nights of toil
weaken our eyes and hearts
But tonight we lay the cornerstone
for the Poetry Hotel.

—Clara Hsu (2005)


This poem is dedicated to Carlos Ramirez, who was one of the founders of The Poetry Hotel—a hotel of the imagination serving the real poet community in the San Francisco Bay Area.Photo credit: Dore Steinberg.