The Blind Dog

John Hartley Williams

In the Hotel Egalitarian
the taps drip, here are containers
to catch the water, the bath tub
is big enough to hold a dog,
but the dog is blind
and bumps its nose against the taps
and the beds are too short.

In the Hotel Egalitarian
the grapes festoon the balconies
from which it is forbidden to make wine.
don’t make wine from the balconies
it says in large letters.
The liquor is lethal, but chew the balustrades
they will release the sweetness mixed with bitterness
any pleasant view reveals.

In the Hotel Egalitarian
everyone wears yachting camisoles without socks.
At night when the power fails,
they pass each other with surly shouts and imperatives
that have to do with the end of free electricity,
shouting Where’s the dog?
and other things
I really don’t want to repeat.

The blind dog is trotting down corridors
no one has ever seen. It stops to pee at the open doors
of forgotten rooms that once held statesmen.
Meanwhile the Hotel Egalitarian
organises moonlit trips upon the sea
for those who cannot read by starlight, and offers
hooks and line to anyone who wants them.
The squid are much too wise to bite.

On hot afternoons, round the hotel,
children play violent games
on bicycles with broken pedals.
The employees shoo them away.
If you are curious, someone will translate
the gibberish the children speak.
It is full of mysteries and prophecies
echoing the wild grunts that drift
from the windows of the Hotel Egalitarian.

Bring your partner. We deter the easy visitor,
but the blind dog on the hotel steps will know
you when you come, and it will bark
its soft, muffled bark, like this.