–but how it plays you

she’s south-african, she tells me,
living here many years &
kindly offers me a cup of coffee
with the internet–

early morning, the hotel lobby’s
almost empty, no music yet,
some smokers smoke outside,
i take a chair with a good view
over the place, though i won’t have
time to look around much,

the atmosphere was different,
lights dim, voices, soft tunes
from the bar behind me,

everyone far from home,
a guest, about to leave or stay
another night, constant movement,
much like waves that ripple on a shore,
disappearing in the sand bed,

i am tired, so is the young man
at reception, a bit earlier
he handed me the code for 5 days
WLan, free of charge, he’s talking
to his colleague, eyes scan

through the lobby, hang on me
just a second, tells him
why i’m here and hands a key
to an old couple (maybe coming
from the theatre)– his smile
is reassuring, trained

to understand, to make things possible,
his girl friend has to spend
another night without him, meeting friends
or watching tv maybe,

i’m not good with seeing details,
usually, & love the scene in Spy Game
(all time favorite movie) when
Robert Redford teaches Brad Pitt
how to pay attention
to the small things, sense them even

before seeing, trying to interprete
and then draw the right conclusions

it is almost midnight when
i leave– back in the car, Elvis’ “in the ghetto”
dripping from the speakers, yep– Chicago,
one more detail that escaped me
And with hushed voice i start

to sing along


Natasha Head will be hosting our 52nd OpenLinkNight… almost a year over at dVerse… let’s rock the stage poetically & stay tuned for our celebration next week..

the poem title is part of a quote from the movie Spy Game “it’s not how you play the game, it’s how the game plays you” and it’s a snapshot of my last saturday’s and sunday’s poetics commenting which i was doing in a hotel lobby cause my internet at home broke..


76 responses to “–but how it plays you

  1. Wow, love the way the words move us through the poem to it’s very delicate ending. The carefully observed details that lead to such a sublime ending. This was really good.

  2. I just love how we get to travel with you, but I have to disagree with you…you are great at details. And now I suppose “In the Ghetto” will be going through my head.

  3. Claudia, I sure missed the details on this. Thought for certain you were on one of those ‘business trips’. Since I’ve worked in hotels, restaurants for a long time, you ‘had me’ there looking across a crowded room (lobby) and ‘seeing’ all sorts of situations.

    Hotel lobby and airports are two of my favorite places to ‘do nothing’ and, with a bartender’s experienced eye, decide where each Peep is from, and where destined, even what they are thinking–grin, grin.

    What a WONDERFUL (Full of wonder!) blog you Peeps–with a lot of work and teamwork–started nearly one year ao. I had predetermined this was “not for me, a non-poet if ever was”. Now I look so forward to reading you guys as often as time permits, with admiration, respect, and love!

  4. “In The Ghetto” stuck now but that is quite alright as it is a good tune. Love how you describe even the most minute detail so that I might live through your experiences …Wonderful!

  5. it is almost midnight when
    i leave– back in the car, Elvis’ “in the ghetto”
    dripping from the speakers, yep– Chicago,
    one more detail that escaped me
    And with hushed voice i start

    to sing along…”

    Hi! Claudia…
    Tks, for sharing the rea-son for the title Of your poem:the poem title is part of a quote from the movie Spy Game “it’s not how you play the game, it’s how the game plays you…”
    [Because I always try to absorb…yours and Brian’s poetry titles before I read your poetic words…Unfortunately, I haven’t watched the film. Therefore, I will try to check-it out…too!]

    “she’s south-african, she tells me,
    living here many years &
    kindly offers me a cup of coffee
    with the internet–”

    “and it’s a snapshot of my last saturday’s and sunday’s poetics commenting which i was doing in a hotel lobby cause my internet at home broke…

    Ah! I see…What a real treat every time I meet yours, and Brian’s poetic words…Tks, for sharing!
    deedee 😉

  6. “one more detail” 😉 and yet, as victoria says, “great…details”

    the lobby could have been any hotel in any city in the world, i thought you were in your home town! but the music-ending choice and being in chicago really hit

    gonna have to check out that movie too, redford teaching pitt, sounds right and sounds like just what we’d like to see 😉

    and congrats on nearing a year!

  7. I also disagree about your not being good at details. You get right into them, like Brian. You see the ordinary and make it more. That was so nice of them to allow you to use the internet because yours was broken,
    This whole read was full of life in pictures:

  8. smiles…i think you caught all the details you needed in this and all your work…i love that movie and in particulr that scene as well….life is so rich and full of detail…even a visit to a hotel when the net is out…shich stinks, trust me…smiles….there is poetry in everything…cool write even if just for that…so sing on poet….sing on…

  9. You write with such ease and you always take us, the reader, on sure wonderful adventures..Thanks Claudia *walks away singing* “And his mama cries.”

  10. Definitely a snapshot of a period of time..observances, people, reflections, speculations, reminiscences! Hate it when one has trouble with either one’s internet or one’s computer. Glad you found a way to connect, but then again you always do…..in your poetry.

  11. Love this one, the flow, and yes, the details are… detailed but enjoyable. I think like everyone else now, I can’t get that darn song out of my head either! Great song though, sublime voice (Elvis could’ve been an opera singer, couldn’t he?). Lovely snapshot.

  12. I should watch that movie. Sometimes I’m guilty of overlooking the small details. You’re not, and you squeeze life out of them in such an artistic way.

    Wow, you really went out of your way to write comments. Thank you.

  13. I get excited every time I see that you’ve posted a poem. love how you open with morning and coffee and the code and proceed to leave in a cab, listening to/ singing with Elvis. I enjoy how you do not push the details on your readers but rather, let them unfold as a day would. very nice piece.

  14. Perfect poem to share my first cup of coffee with this morning…brougth back memories of mornings in hotel lobbies during years of travel around the country.

  15. reading your poetry i’m always impressed with how well you see (& convey) the details… but there’s always more, isn’t there, that perhaps we’ll catch the next time we view the scene, hear the song…

    & i haven’t seen that movie, will look for it now…

  16. Claudia, you are good with the details! Every time I come here I soak up your details and see the scene through your eyes. 🙂

  17. we were both inspired this week by hotel lobbies. It is indeed all about observing the details. Thank you for string what you observed in such a well crafted manner.

  18. Love the opening of this, Claudia, and then the rest pulls me along to the finish…almost midnight, in the ghetto, singing along…thanks for taking me along with you on this little adventure. 🙂

  19. I agree you would be an excellent spy, your powers of observation are magnificent. As I said to Brian – thank you for all you’ve done to bring us a year of poetry community. Y’all are visionaries – the world needs you and we poets need you!

  20. You seem to have done fine with noticing and capturing details here, Claudia–despite never having been in a hotel lobby that offered internet, the characters and atmosphere all stand out clearly. for me, I can almost smell the coffee.

  21. to make things possible,
    his girl friend has to spend
    another night without him, meeting friends
    or watching tv maybe,

    Love that “insight”, imagination. I have never seen Spy Game…have just added it to Netflix. I love your casual, conversational style. Very inviting.

  22. I especially like the 4th stanza… But the entire piece is wonderful and as usual you have set the scene so vividly.

  23. Yet another strong and accessible poem from you, Claudia. I really like this. I love how direct you are, and how you don’t over-explain your insights, just record events and moments and let the meaning emanate from them. Only the true artist ever gets that. I especially liked:

    his smile
    is reassuring, trained
    to understand, to make things possible,,,,

    isn’t that the truth– we are conditioned to do that for others… but as they say in Breaking Bad, which I’m now hooked on, catching up to next week’s season opener on AMC, “the devil’s in the details…” never understood what that really meant till watching the series. xxxj

  24. Claudia, I would never describe you as one who doesn’t see details. Your ability to collect a scattering of divergent details and pull them together into one beautiful, breath-holding creation iis what brings me back to your work over and over. You never disappoint me. Thanks so much for another amazing experience.

  25. Singing along with you and Elvis right now, Claudia! Thinking of that oh-so-helpful young man in reception and how he maybe hums on the way home, as well! Wonderful immersion you have given me into this WLan useage in a hotel lobby!

  26. Earlier comments already covered the details of this poem, so I will just thank you and say that “how the game plays you” is magnificently–with unique notes and full harmonies and delightful surprises and unexpected details like the couple, the song, the movie, and the cup of tea with a friend from halfway around the world– right here in the Pub.

  27. excellent flow in descriptors and detail — you paint a great view of a hotel lobby in any city. I like that you used Elvis playing on the radio and Chicago nights as your setting. Noticing the small things behind actions taking place around us takes insights and good observation skills — you are a detective and poet!

  28. I loved the details and how observation developed into a narrative about how we perceive to know and draw conclusions about others.

    Part of me misses those traveling days and the exposure to life’s diversity outside of the small space I call home. But on most days the other part of me no longer wishes to tear myself away.

  29. Waddya mean you’re not good at details?!! This is all detail and so beautifully captured.. Ya’ know, Claudia, I’ve saved alot of money this summer just visiting dVerse, reading your travelogue poetry…who needs the “real thing”? You make trains, ships, hotel lobbies, and people come alive with your wonderful travel poems. I was right there in the lobby, but you didn’t notice…a minor detail :))

  30. oh, claudia …

    you have a magical way of setting this stage, and bringing to life, in all the little details. I especially love the stanza about the man at reception handing out the code for wlan. Just little details, little observations out of the corner of the eye.

    I just love this.

    – Z

  31. I lived in a hotel in a resort area for a number of years. This put me right back there. A hotel lobby is like a novel…a new chapter opens every few minutes.

  32. A lovely play on words of a moment at the hotel…love the detail 😉 And you’ve brought the scene to poetic life…wonderful 🙂

  33. This is very cool. I just love your observational (spying?) approach here – very descriptive. I would like to try my hand at more “observational” style writing. “Chicago,
    one more detail that escaped me” …I really like that part!

  34. The introductory setting of the hotel lobby suggests that here is a terminus, a time to book in or a time to change! Love the series of cameos that seem to bustle through the conscience!

  35. People watching, observing life as it comes at you, the fine art of capturing the detail. Seems to me you’ve all three very well in this poem. You weave such wonderful stories of your travels, Claudia. Nicely penned.

  36. some more fabulous armchair travelling with you Claudia and I so love my sojourns, I wonder where we are going to next as I drink in the moment yu’ve shared – thankyou so much Claudia I’m loving the ride – and thankyou for a wonderful year (starting Monday) of friendhsip and fabulous community – hugs Lib

  37. wow claudia… my moms used to sing me to sleep with elvis tunes (she was a massive fan… hence my mispelled monica)… in the ghetto is my favourite track…
    and used to all ways send me off… and Spy Games is just legend!!!
    this is a great multi-screened walk through – showing us all the angles
    as you walk with your fingers on the Keys 😀

    happy bday dVerse!!! 😀

  38. You can describe atmospheres at most times so well, that not only do I feel like am there but almost wish I was there,. meeting and seeing the people and listening to Elvis. not so much smell the smoke.

  39. This strikes me:

    “though i won’t have
    time to look around much,

    When it comes to looking around at yesterday, we never can do it as thoroughly and in as much detail and color as we’d like to. Although sometimes, it’s nice to forget. I know it wasn’t your intent, but the way “yesterday” hangs, I pick up a time-travel vibe here.

  40. Oh my, that song takes me back… my sister, a bit younger then I, was in love with Elvis, and that was one of her favorites.

    The details, your capture of them is magical… I think you listened to Redford, learned, and here you are, weaving them into a tapestry of life.


  41. I love that scene too in Spy Game, a great movie that just about got me to tears. I don’t know what you mean, though, about not seeing details, cause your poem has the most pertinent ones.Maybe it’s a distinction about poetic details versus facts or something like that. Whatever, you have the gift to bring us into a world and bring out its essential elements, evoking what they are in their becoming, like that water on the sea shore, if I might use some existentialist categories. 🙂

  42. I would say your observant powers were on a par with Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t seen Spy Game, but have been treating myself to the series of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett, along with Edward VII and Lillie Langtry..soon will be a Victorian era specialist! Loved the delicate details complete with singing Elvis in the limo.
    Awesome as always.

  43. Claudia, we just got back from a trip that involved hotels and net access, and I’ve pulled many night shifts at various jobs. Your consideration of his girlfriend going it alone another night really touched me. Keep ’em coming, and congrats on a full year of dverse – really keeps me going! Peace, Amy

  44. I love this…in this form there are so many details. I love the attentive moment in that movie also, not only for a spy but for a poet as well. I think our senses are heightened at night, even with “constant movement”. There is so much here for us to see before the wave moves forward, “much like waves that ripple on a shore,
    disappearing in the sand bed”. Lovely. 🙂

  45. Love all the little details, little snatches of others lives. Lovely, lovely!

    Anna :o]

  46. I love your ability to observe your surroundings and turn it into a poem. A few hours at a hotel on the ‘net sounds wonderous with your words. I’m going to have to rewatch spy games now and look for the scene!

  47. you write like a dream, and yet there I am, in it. All the observation, like watching a movie, and the language to go with it. It’s lovely, soft…

  48. I just left a comment on Brian Miller’s poem that applies here too. You tell a story so well, Claudia, and paint a picture with it. It creates an atmosphere that is almost like a scene from a Micky Spillane novel. Great work.