Wide Awake at the Dog Hotel

Beth Kephart

What? I knew I could do it. Drive the EZ-Pass highways, the strewn, the bridge arch, the back streets, pull up, park, check in—just me, circa the two-night holiday. Woman on her own and the room vinyl and blonde, knobs on the wall for the clothes I didn’t bring, bathroom so big I wished I’d remembered roller-skates, no view. Big money for a place like this, but it was the sea I had been rooting for, the parabola of boardwalk dreams, the named In Remembrance losses on the paint-grit benches, the off-season of the tent colony, the bravado of the Stone Pony, sea upon sea and wave slap, by which I mean the room itself couldn’t bother me, it was nothing but caesura, the place in between. I was leaving things.


It was only at night, when the wedding party people who had booked all the other rooms left their dogs behind for their marathon of matrimony, only when the dogs broke down in their miseries, bark to bark, room to room, hound to hound, exotic with despair and wet in want and utter with cacophony, only when it was me alone in my vinyl room, one more among the scorned in the dog hotel, did I begin to howl myself for things we finally leave.

Doug Van Hooser's poetry has appeared in Roanoke Review, The Courtship of Winds, After Hours, Sheila-Na-Gig online, and Poetry Quarterly among other publications. His fiction can be found in Red Earth Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Bending Genres Journal. Doug’s plays have received readings at Chicago Dramatist Theatre and Three Cat Productions. More at dougvanhooser.com

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