The Imperial Hotel Physical (a poem)

An ekphrastic poem, inspired by photographs of Hi Red Center’s Shelter Plan (1964).

Will the boxes be our shelter
or our container?

Given the potential consequences
measurements seem almost beside the point

and the photographs
not so much documentation

as a means of identifying the dead
(as if you could do that without dental records)

There’s no point in exclamations
the dead and the sleeping don’t care about much

if we join them
neither will we

If not, huddled here under the umbrella
we may fuse together, so tightly we cling—

or nothing will happen
and the photographs become relics

of the age in which we watched the clock
inching towards midnight

(17 September 2016)