Michelle Hartman

Hotel by Railroad, 1952

After Edward Hopper painting of same name

Pondering the street below, his expression
and posture are as tight as a vestal’s vagina.

A woman of negotiable affection
sits in hastily donned slip, checking
date book for repeat performance.
Her face, the smile a razor blade
makes on a suicide’s arm.

Dicey these transactions with railroad
men; they can hire, fire, and evict
from railroad shanties. But she
is an independent contractor
and he is left of average in performance,
not to mention a lousy tipper.

She will close her book, place it in purse
and finish dressing before she tells him
her dance card is full. As the door clicks
he continues to study the street looking
for meaningful connections
where there are none.


Michelle Hartman’s latest book, The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory, has just been released from Old Seventy Creek Press. The first poetic look at child abuse and its effects on adult life. The first book of its kind from a recognized publisher. Along with her poetry books, Irony and Irreverence and Disenchanted and Disgruntled, from Lamar University Press, Lost Journal is available on Amazon. She is the editor of Red River Review.