Post-Apocalypse Postcard from the Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica
I woke up and laid out by the pool, still blue and inviting, the swim-up bar emptied of everything but ice buckets. Oh, for ice. There was something falling from the sky, tiny and white, but it wasn’t snow. It was ashes. Ashes of what? The roses were blooming outside the gate, just like always. The sky, a true LA muted gray, just as oppressive as that August we visited. Remember the flashfires, everything up in smoke, the canyons a trap, no one left to run to the ocean? I’ve been living on nuts and pretzels, upscale liquor stuck in locked minibars, orange juice for breakfast, chocolate and vodka at night. I haunt the hotel in robes and slippers, wrap myself in sheets, with no one left to watch. I walked to Fred Segal, the poor sad mannequins, the lipsticks scattered on the floor, the size two tank tops hanging empty on the racks. There were still flavored syrups at the Coffee Bean; almond, raspberry. The flowers haven’t crumpled to nothingness yet, though the lawns are brown and the fountains stopped their splashing. Ashes, ashes, they all fall down.
Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, due out in Fall 2016 from Moon City Press. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com.