“A Web of Cigarette Smoke and Revery”

This Could Have Been the Place

Could This Have Been “Hotel Insomnia”?

I have just finished reading a strange surrealistic novel—one which made me want to find a poem to match. Here it is: “Hotel Insomnia” by Serbian-American poet Charles Simic.

Hotel Insomnia by Charles Simic

I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month
a crippled old man came to play
“My Blue Heaven.”

Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revery.
So dark,
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The “Gypsy” fortuneteller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought
For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1990; and, in 2007, he was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.