Poetry and prose from Joshua Dunlap

Life is Breathed Into a Hotel Room
The hotel room is large & the walls are covered with peeling white & blue pinstripe wallpaper; it is desperately clinging on. The side table is littered with miniature alcohol bottles, scraps of paper, a pack of cigarettes & a lighter.
She’s sitting on the bed, bottom-less with a black bra, casually taking drags from a cigarette.
Her legs are modestly crossed with her opposite hand between them, in a nonsexual way. Her back is to the large window with the beige curtains drawn back. The room is faintly lit with most of the light casually bleeding in from the outside world. The living, breathing city down below more than six feet beneath our feet. All warm bodies coming & going, each with their own existence.
Miniature clouds veil her painted red fingernails for seconds before dissipating. Making this moment in time as fickle & elusive as the smog billowing from the mouth of a smoke stack. It curls and dances in the air before melting into nothing.

I’m sitting across the room in an uncomfortable chair, also bottom-less with my legs crossed. I don’t know how long we’ve been sitting here like this. I’ve been using the ashtray as a makeshift timepiece; it’s almost full. I think it’s past midnight.

“Those things will fucking kill you. They’ll kill me just being near them.  What else can you say that about?” I ask.
She leans back, resting both elbows on the bed. Her eyes shoot straight through the ceiling as she exhales into the air like a locomotive barreling down the tracks but can’t slow down, rampant & out of control.
“Microwaves,” she says smiling with a child-like confidence.
“That’s a myth,” I shoot back.
“Well, whatever.  I like smoking.”
“It gives me time to think.”

“You know, you can think without smoking.”
“I know that,” she says glancing through me, “it’s just…”
She pauses & takes a drag; exhale.
“Growing up, my mother used to smoke.”

“Well, we weren’t allowed to bother her until she finished her cigarette.  It was her time.”
“So, you want privacy? Is that it?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s that she would go out onto the porch,”
She takes another drag; exhale.
“She used to love the rain, the summer rain. She told me once that she liked the way it smelled & how the warmth felt on her skin.  Feeling each individual drop melt into you.  Or how in the winter, she’d be out on the porch & she would watch the warm smoke mix with her visible breath, dancing with each other.   The way she spoke about these minute details was so beautiful. Like the time needed to finish the cigarette gave her some kind of clarity. You know?  As if it were long enough to find some kind of meaning.”
“Yeah, I don’t know.  Some way to cut through the day to day bullshit.  To experience life. The smoke only floats for so long; the cigarette burns out.”
“Some people: religion. Others cigarettes,” I say jokingly.
“I guess you’re right.”
“Why not religion then?”
“My brain always wins out over my heart.  I barely trust that old pump.”
“Aren’t you worried about dying?”
“No,” she says easily.
“Why not?”
“We’re all going to die someday.”
“Yeah, but…”
“I’ll die trying to find my meaning.”
“But what if you, or I, or we, don’t have a meaning?”
“Then this will be all I had. This brief moment in a hotel room will have added to whatever meaning there is to life.”
“Then…what would it all mean?”
“Nothing & everything; I’ll just die.”



Between 2014 & 2015, Joshua Dunlap boldly set out to find what gives our lives meaning & what we do with those things or people once we find them; if they are ever found at all.

His goal was to find what makes up everyday life & find the importance in the minute details that we tend to overlook.

The result was a 100+ poems, prose & short stories forming a larger work entitled ‘God & Other Things Found Left Out in the Rain.’

The books themes range from life & death to existentialism & nihilism.

For fans of: David Foster Wallace, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus & Franz Kafka.