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MICHAEL CARLTON
Lubbock, Texas
About Michael Carlton

 

 

 

Palace Hotel

And the city gave way to progress
and the people gave  way to pain.
Now the only sound that the Palace hears
is the wind and the snow and the rain.
But deep inside her adobe walls
she remembers another day,
when fine ladies danced in satin gowns
and the band played the night away.

As he stepped through the door of the Place Hotel
his unwanted presence was felt.
He had a baby in a blanket held close to his chest
and a Bisley Colt in his belt.
As he closed the door behind him,
the blowing snow filled the air,
and the band quit playing and the dancin' stopped
and he knew he wasn't welcome there.

He said, "I know you don't care for squaw men,
and you care even less for a breed.
we'll only be here 'til the storm blows out
a room is all we need.
But my wife has died and I had to ride
with my baby through the snow
and I trust that you don't hate so much
you say we have to go."

Now the pride of three men was challenged;
they were ready for the test.
Knowing full well in the same hotel
a half-breed child might rest.
"We'll buy you a drink to warm you,
then you must be on your way,
but it'll be quite a while
before an Indian child
in the Palace Hotel will stay."

So the man lay the blanket on the bar;
the bartender move away.
He pulled back his coat to clear the Colt
and the three men made their play.
It was over in a heartbeat
and they never cleared their chairs.
Three men slept cold on the barroom floor,
but the baby slept warm upstairs.

And the city gave way to progress
and the people gave  way to pain.
Now the only sound that the Palace hears
is the wind and the snow and the rain.
But deep inside her adobe walls
she remembers another day,
when three foolish men on a winter's eve
tried to turn a child away.

2005, Michael Carlton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Michael told us about this poem:  It is not a true story, but the Palace Hotel is a real place.  Many years ago I was riding a bus East from El Paso and we pulled off the interstate and stopped in Sierra Blanca, Texas to pick up passengers and packages.  It was obvious that progress and the highway had passed the city by and while sitting there I also noticed the remains of the Palace Hotel whose name was barely legible on the remaining adobe walls.  The roof was fallen in, the windows were gone, but the thick old adobe walls were still standing.  While waiting for the bus to leave, I began to wonder what stories, good and bad, these old walls could tell if only they could talk. I thought about the Palace Hotel and its past for the following few days and this story came to me.  The words came about as fast as I could write them down, as if it were a story needing/wanting to be told.

[See Greg Jehl's Picture the West comments and photos, inspired by Michael Carlton's poem.]


About Michael Carlton:

I'm not a cowboy but have lived in the Southwest for many years and have a great appreciation for the art and culture of the West.  It has had the most significant influence on my poetry and music.


 

 

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