Bad Week at the Goliath Hotel, Paris

John Sierpinski

It’s May, it’s freezing cold and damp outside,
and it feels colder yet in the Goliath hotel,
in our room. We can’t turn the heat on
in summer, the desk clerk says, ennui.

Thought I would warm up in the exercise
room, and maybe take some of the figs
and granola bars for a snack, when a woman
comes in and proceeds to fill her plastic bag

with everything that is out. Then she leaves.
Thanks a lot, I mutter under my breath. We
were supposed to go to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery,
but again the cold rain washed that idea

away. Finally, on the third day, the sun shows
up, and we eat in a middle eastern deli, of all
places. The next day, a sidewalk café, but
far from the Seine and Eiffel Tower. We have

to take a bus to the Louvre (where Mona Lisa
seemed depressed), an underground
to Notre Dame, where gray and rain reappear,
prevents us from seeing the glory of the “rose

window.” Another bus takes us on our last day
to Montmartre. The evening is warm, a reprieve
from the rain. We move away from the little
gas-powered train filled with tourists. Nearby,

a makeshift stage where vendors push beer
and a guy from New York plays guitar
and sings, “Imagine.” Some men (from where?)
are drunk on beer and arguing. One drops a bottle,

the glass shatters. They quiet down. Artists have
set up their easels at the outdoor cafes, and I’m told
they con tourists out of their money (my apologies
to Van Gogh). It reminds me of Greenwich Village

where starving artists have to starve somewhere
else as they can no longer afford the rent. Before
we return to Goliath’s hotel we stop in Hemingway’s
favorite bookstore, check out the exorbitant price

of the Moulin Rouge (think about Toulouse-Lautrec),
enter the second most popular cabaret: food, wine,
a show, magic, juggling, bare-breasted women in glittery
attire revolve around a track. Of course, the Can-Can.

Then we walk the darkened streets alongside
tall, stone, midnight buildings. We walk for miles.
It begins to rain, and we didn't bring umbrellas.
The streets and puddles shine as we near our obelisk.

In our room, we change clothes, towel dry, pull out
blankets, and hold onto each other for precious
warmth. I get the shivering shakes. Lynn tells me,
Next time we’ll find an intimate hotel closer

to the action. Yeah, next time, when? Well, you
had to at least see Paris. I know, I caught
a small whiff of it.Maybe we’ll move on to
Rome if we want another big city or Jerusalem

I have stopped shaking. Suddenly, I am no longer
cold. I get up, shut off the lights. We stroke our
bodies like stroking a cat. City of passion, city
of love. No longer wanderlust, but magical lust.


About the Author

John Sierpinski has published poetry in many literary journals such as California Quarterly, Red Coyote, and Spectrum, to name a few. His work is also in six anthologies. He is a Pushcart nominee. His poetry collection,Sucker Hole, was published in 2018 by Cholla Needles Press.