Sean Lovelace Reviews Stephanie Freele’s Motel


This is a motel, not a hotel, get it? Is that blood? Fuck yes it’s blood, deep red drops. You want to donate? Is that semen? Fuck yes it’s semen, on the ceiling, in the shape of broccoli spears, so what? Your TV has one channel, and it’s the Ass Channel–so why call me? What are you, religious? What’s your problem? Your lock is broken? What about your teeth? Well then don’t use the toilet, sir. What the fuck is this? A credit card! We take cash, Rockefeller. We charge by the hour. What sound? What siren? What spleen-curdling scream? This is a motel, not a hotel, get it?

Now get your ass inside…


Motel 1.

motel 2

It is 11pm when he says “You’re on the wrong street” in that tone, that backseat driver tone that makes her want to throw her coffee in his face.

Tone. Attitude. How the author senses the situation. What the author sees, wants us to see, the “Shadows. Concrete. Rebar. Weeds” of these character’s lives.

[Aside: My top 3 hotel experiences.

1.) 45 minutes in that mildewy room outside Nashville. She had blue hair. Very cool hair.

2.) You ever seen a mound of cocaine? A mound. This was Nebraska, a life ago.

3.) Spent all night in Arizona watching Andy Griffith with my step-mom. We bonded over that show, I think. Later she would steal all my credit cards.]

Motel 2.

jump copyThe manager wants to see what you’re up to.”

Now we close the psychic distance. Now we care. Now she stands by a dumpster (objective correlative of a discarded life). What is she up to? This we call plot. Now we turn the page.

Motel 3.

If she still carried a gun she’d kill the wall or the bed.

[These poems are centered on the page. I don’t like that shit. Who does that? Maybe I’m just irritated. I keep getting the brakes “fixed”on my car but they keep making a sound like I’m strangling a cat. I don’t have the time or money for this shit. A mechanic is all about vocabulary, I mean as power. But I digress.]

Chekhov says you bring out that gun it better fire. Unleash that gun, Character-Who-Dwells-in-Motel 3! Fire that gun, Stefanie!

[Aside: I once pulled a gun on a man in a motel in Connecticut. He just walked in the room. I said, “Who are you?” and pointed a Browning Buckmark .22 at his forehead. He said, “Whoa. Wrong room” and exited the door.]

Motel 4.

jump 7

While she is on hold with the highway patrol a message is left:I know you’re Searching, looking, caring.”

I keep waiting for that gun to go off. He, she, we, it.

Motel 5.

A greasy Arkansas guy pleads, “Come on sell me just one beer, I’m from Arkansas.”

I’m from kick you ass.

A funny line, a tragi-comic scene, a couple trying to open their hotel deer with beer, steak, a potato…

Wait. Let’s go back, to shooting the wall, the bed. There are playful juxtapositions I admire. I like the idea of bleeding emotions into inanimate objects, into THINGS. Every bed is a poem. I wish someone would fire that gun.

[Aside. Poem of guys who won’t work but play good. This was Tennessee. Poem of watching my friend marry an Indian girl in the ballroom of a hotel. This was Atlanta. Poem of destroying the room like rock-stars. An expensive poem, Dallas. You ever been in jail in Dallas? That’s no song.]

Motel 6.

bed 3

The relatives call and say he broke in and peed on their bed and couldn’t

A German critic once said things need to go from Bad to Worse to Really Fucked up. Seems about right. Someone pees on your bed and that trigger finger must be itching.

Internal rhyme noted.

Sense pause noted.

There goes a cockroach and a scattered dreamscape.

Motel 7.

Some they do, some they don’t.”

Indeed. They call it colloquial. It tugs you in, it characterizes, it shapes.

Motel 8.

No gunfire but…

He points a piece of his homemade elk jerky at her.

That’s a sort of pointing, sore of shooting gesture, sort of threat, I do suppose.



(bed bugs, Kansas, circa 1999)

Me: “You took the back photo of Stefanie Freele?”

Photographer: “Damn straight.”

Me: “Why do you have her smiling like that? All healthy glow. It doesn’t match the tone or atmosphere of the book.”

P: “Why does it have to? You have a small, provincial mind, don’t you?”

Me: “What does Provincial mean?”

KA-POW! The photographer pulls out a .38 and blows me away. (I fall out my chair at this funny angle [I mean dry humor funny], you should see my limbs all askew. I’m like a marionette with a handful of shiny folders.)

Look at that nasty floor!

Hell, I’m done.

  1. I love this.

  2. […] New Chapbook Review is live and full of goodness like fire safety or degerminated love or OK I have a review. […]

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