The housekeeper has children living in town with her but her husband and relatives are in Somalia.


A tiny woman in a striped sweater shivers while waiting for the elevator.


Wealthy hippies next door: a British mother, probably in her early thirties, clad in a flower-pattern kimono robe and ankle-tie espadrilles. She’s banging at the door; she’d gone shopping and now her baby’s nanny can’t hear her. I let her use the phone in my room.


The tall, lanky father wears loose-fitting shirts and a yoga bun. The baby only cries during the day. At night, one, or a few of them, open and shut the door noisily. At times I hear more than two people, plus the baby, in the room.


Room-service trays with half-eaten pieces of bread sit on the hall overnight and the morning after.


On Sunday afternoon they eat at the poolside restaurant. Later, the mother walks down the street with a strung-out fellow.


The night before they leave, two champagne flutes on the room service tray sit for hours outside their door.


A short guy in a red vest with a comb-over dyed dark brown takes tickets at the movie theatre. A taller bearded blonde guy in a ponytail also wears the vest.


An Eastern European housekeeper says she’s always hot when working.


Three tipsy couples either coming down the elevator – or going up? – ask that their picture be taken before the door closes.


The women at the gym enjoy talking to hotel guests at the fitness centre.


A man carrying his fresh dry-cleaning complains about the slow elevator.


A man carries bulky photo equipment and drags a console on wheels.


A woman at the coffee bar admires my shoes. ‘Comfortable,’ she says.


The server can’t believe the cream that’s been sitting there all morning has turned. It’s late September and it’s 97 degrees out.


A friendly man on his way to the pool says he’s noticed that the pool’s fountain spews hot water.


A teenager in tight pyjama shorts, flip-flops, and a tee sucks on a lollypop as she runs from the elevator to someone’s room. She pounds on a door. Someone who looks like her mother opens and tells her she’s got the wrong room.


A group of women who bought groceries around the corner invite each other to their respective rooms for lunch.


A stocky woman on the elevator says she’s heard the gym in the basement is great, but admits she hasn’t made time to visit it.


Another woman on the elevator was happy to have made it to the circuit-training class and was planning to go to spinning on Sunday.


A wedding party next door. Three bridesmaids in saffron cocktail dresses and a man and a young teenager in tuxes enter a room.


A man staying on the same floor dials someone on his Android while riding the elevator. He’s got a wireless headset on but keeps looking at his device while he shouts, ‘Can you hear me? Can you hear me?’


The same bride that was being photographed in the lobby and pool with her family this morning now looks dishevelled and wears a green sweater over her wedding gown. A friend or relative holds her five-inch pumps in her hands as she checks something on her phone.


The doorman with assertive eyewear has five children, including a pair of twins. The oldest likes poetry and has gotten into three colleges already. She plans to major in poetry, he says. A month later, when I stay at the hotel again, he doesn’t recognise me.





Decidedly not centrally located.


Early morning soundtrack of heavy wood doors opening and closing.


The grounds on a former landfill turned into office parks, malls, trails.


Empty rooftop pools with views of corporate headquarters.


FedEx             IBM




Martí (a sports goods retailer; no relation to the Cuban revolutionary)








Fiesta Inn: sanctioned cutting-edge corporate architecture.


Islands amid rivers of traffic.


Squalid palm trees and walls with succulents as space dividers.


Everywhere men in suits, prematurely aged.


Empty outdoor pavilions and terraces surrounded by space heaters.


Very California, except that we’re way south of the border, on a street named after Javier Barrios Sierra, rector of Mexico’s national university during the student massacre of 1968.


's fifth book of poetry, The Happy End/All Welcome, is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2016. She lives in New York and is senior editor of BOMB Magazine.



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