Checkout Time At The Owl Creek Hotel

from by John McDaid

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about

Second-prize winner in the 2019 FilKONtario topical song contest. The title is a reference to the famous Ambrose Bierce short story, "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." The last line of the chorus is taken from Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream," Act III, Scene 1, Titania speaking to Bottom.

lyrics

Check Out Time At The Owl Creek Hotel

For Vonda McIntyre

There are hotels
Along the border
Of the real and the realms beyond
We sometimes wake there
Standing before them
Reduced to pure
Phenomenon

Some inhabit
Evanescent bubbles
Bulging from the plethyverse
Some lie in liminal
Dimensions
Where all that rises
Must converge

A burst of brightness
Buzzing blooming
Bellhops lead us through the portico
And transcendence
Sinks to transience
Another spin
'Round this bardo

CHORUS
Stars wheel above
In unfamiliar constellations
There are hints of palm trees and desert sky
Faces that you half remember
Welcome you back with a smile
And the desk clerk says your room is ready
And someone you think you ought to know
Whispers, “I will purge thy mortal grossness
So that thou shalt like an airy spirit go.”

We find ourselves
In such a moment
Dust, random walking in shafts of light
Angelic orders watch
In mute amazement
At the onrush
Of the night

There's bouzoukis
In the lobby
With tambourines and violins
In the stairwell
Guitars and banjos
Out by the pool
A theremin

Behind the front desk
Lurks an aleph
That can show all time and space
Corridors and rooms
Endlessly emerging
Far beyond this
Nutshell-bounded place

CHORUS

They're playing games
On the veranda
Feels like that time back at Black Diamond Bay
You can choose
Your own adventure
The one thing
That you can't do is stay

Musicians jam
Late in the evening
As the captain brings carafes of wine
Down in the ballroom
Sequins sparkle
Cheek to cheek
In three-quarter time

She catches your eye
From the dance floor
A wraith of implicate design
She is the zeitgeist
Of the building
One touch can heal
A troubled mind

CHORUS

Amid the circles
And room parties
And conversations in the bar
All the house staff
Relentless, unicursal
Gently prod us back
To where we are

A hundred billion children
Have dreamed the hotel
In an insubstantial pageant, as are we all
And the hotel
Returns the favor
For those who quicken
At its call

Vacuum energy
Free, free falling
We live between the drop and snap
We check in
For such a short time
Before the endless
Calls us back

OUTTRO CHORUS
And the desk clerk says your room is ready
And someone you think you ought to know
Whispers, “I will purge thy mortal grossness
So that thou shalt like an airy spirit go.”
Thou shalt like an airy spirit go
Like an airy spirit go
Airy spirit go
Spirit
Go

credits

from Proverbs of Hell, released July 28, 2019

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John McDaid Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Award-winning science fiction writer, freelance journalist, folk/filk singer-songwriter.

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