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Carl Dennis

Carl Dennis

Carl Dennis is the author of eleven books of poems, most recently Callings, published by Penguin in October. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Ruth Lilly Prize, he lives in Buffalo, New York.

From The Cove Hotel

If you value justice, you'll want to choose our hotel,
Though it's ranked only fourth-best
Among the dozen hotels on the bay
And its rates are the same as the one ranked first.
Justice because we pay our workers
More nearly what they deserve, which is almost twice
The salaries others offer. That's the reason
We can't afford the extra help required
To keep the kitchen open for late-night orders.
That's why if you need extra towels after 5pm,
When the house-keeping staff goes home,
You're invited to help yourself from the linen closet
By the vending machines on the second floor.
That's why there isn't a gym or a steam room.
And all the money we save by our location
(Half a mile from the beach) in beach-front taxes
Is passed on to the people who serve you
With care, with courtesy. Are you ready to help them
By taking in stride an easy, ten-minute walk
Past the modest store fronts where they tend to shop
To a beach as clean as the beaches of hotels
Where a walk from room to ocean takes ten seconds?
Wouldn't you say there's something a little desperate
About people whose craving for pleasure is so intense
That haven't a moment to observe the world
Our workers dwell in as they earn a living
Ample enough for them to afford a few expenses
Beyond necessities. We're proud that our cook
Manages to support his daughter in law school.
The young woman's so grateful we pay her father
More than the market calls for that she intends
To advise her clients to focus first
On the option of settling out of court
By appealing to a natural sense of fairness.
It's in that spirit we appeal to yours.


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