"Heartbreak Hotel" by Leah Mueller

He bought me a bag of

“Love Me Tender” dog food,

stood in the middle

of the grocery aisle

and imitated Elvis, but poorly.

3:00 AM mini-mart after

bar time: both of us knew

I was going back to his apartment

after he paid the cashier.


I should have stayed home

with the puppy, but I chose to

get drunk with a man 

who left me cold as a

Chicago winter. I was that lonely.

We bought more beer and

headed back to his place,

drank and listened to the stereo

until I had to lie down

on his king-sized bed

to stop the room from spinning.


He climbed under the covers,

tried to kiss me, tenderly,

yet I was having none of it.

His hands moved relentlessly

down the sides of my neck

towards my half-exposed breasts,

but I stopped him abruptly

and burst into noisy tears.


“I’m sorry,” he said,

“I really like you.”

“It wouldn’t be right for me

to fuck you,” I sobbed.

“I don’t have any

feelings for you whatsoever.”


I lost consciousness, while

he hovered above me

on the enormous mattress,

staring down at my face

with a tragic expression.

The following morning,

he looked devastated, so I

promised to call after I had

a couple of days to think.

At least he was smart enough

not to believe me.


I grabbed the dog food

and wandered into the warm

April morning. His street

was alive with tulips of 

every imaginable color. I 

saw tulips in shades I’d

never noticed before: pale blue and 

pumpkin orange and brilliant yellow.


The perfect light

overwhelmed me with pain,

as I thought how beautiful

everything would look if only

I’d spent the night 

with somebody I loved.