“I Am an Innocent Bellman” by Craig Kenworthy

Craig Kenworthy


The visiting exotic dancers liked room service
before their two shows a night, before trying not
to look too bored as 21st birthdaying college boys
at a downtown club elbowed each other, pulled
out small bills, a shameless passing thrill
at least until they had their own daughters.

I took meals to these women, my other duty warding
off guys who appeared at our front desk asking if
“those strippers might be staying here?” my usual
response a blank look that came easy for me, a harmless
blob so unlikely to ever appear at one of the “girls” tables
that the blonde one, who always smiled at me as she

passed through the lobby, thought it would be funny
one night if she answered my usual three sharp knocks
and call wearing nothing, nothing at all, her soft
teethed laugh holding even as she and I got as close
as we ever would, kneeling down together to address
the remains of a tuna melt, small salad, dressing

on the side and a Diet Coke, which had all cascaded
through the open doorway onto the once upon
a time beige Best Western carpet, the full tray
of her dinner having fallen from the heights
of my shaken, still unschooled
Nebraska boy’s hands.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020
Tribute to Service Workers


Craig Kenworthy: “I spent several years working as a cook, a waiter, a hotel bellman and a front desk clerk. I learned the high value of providing small joys to people, leaving me with the knowledge that those little jewels and small truths we seek in our poems are always worth fighting for. Plus, I dealt with college football fans, exotic dancers and their fans, and, worst of all, rollerskating conventions. Once you’ve done that, rejections aren’t as hard to take.” (web)

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