Fourteen-stories of hotel towered

over downtown Minneapolis;

the massive pine by our back drive

stretched nearly to the tenth

the bottom boughs canopied out,

branches looping upward, forming

a cozy, sweet-smelling cave

we rented out rooms, not the tree

still, guests were often staying  there


most of the staff didn’t know

of our guests beneath the tree

like tourists in our regular rooms

they spent their days not there;

it was merely a place to lay a head

to relax and stash their gear


unobtrusively using dead of night

to slip into the lobby restrooms

using freshly cleaned toilets to rinse

soap-dispenser-and-sink cleaned feet

foot care key, to surviving the street


from time to time my boss and I

encountered our off-the-books guests

greeting them as we would any others

with a nod, a greeting, a smile

a few times, my boss Dennis

would ask them to wait, asking

if they were hungry, then going

to the kitchen, returning with a

sandwich, or piece of chicken


Like most of our guests

they seldom stayed long,

but frequently returned;

loyalty, as they told us in training,

was highly valued, and must be

constantly earned

the proof of that I can confirm

because the guests who never paid us

were the finest that I served

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016

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