The haunting of the Oatman Hotel


(Jane Alice Peters; Or, Carole Lombard, October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942;

Dead on impact when her DC-3 plane crashed into Double-Up Peak near Las Vegas,

en route home to husband, Clark Gable)

The Haunting of the oatman hotel



In love so great, there must be loss greater.

To know something so grand as true love,

there must, in the end, be an end, and it must

be tragic.


In the mists of a sheer lace curtain,

the remains of the greatest lovers

still honeymoon upon covers of a

double painted-brass bed, rise in the clouds

of a timely dresser, adobe walls of

mining towns past.  Wings of steel

cannot diminish over mountain peaks

what once lay across brass bed in

newly formed stages of grandeur.

There are not thoughts here yet of

farms, chickens, horses, cats, dogs to come;

of children never had—how in hindsight

that must have bitten heart that would sink,

the remaining heart that would fall to attack,

to fatigue, to a loss that graces ghost town walls

in what remains of happiness.


Two lovers will honeymoon here.  Two lovers

will stay.  Among the sounds of imagined bagpipes

from drunken Irish mining souls, the dusted

outlines of chambermaids sleeping atop made beds,

there is the whispering and laughing of lovers

in an otherwise empty room, cut too short in

the prime.  The whispers heard could just as

surely be longing sighs; hearts breaking make

a harrowing echo; a lover’s call unanswered.

The bed rattles when plane flies overheard,

too low, far too low—far, far too low—

A line struck from final film in postproduction:

“What can happen on a plane?”


Leah Angstman is a transplanted Midwesterner, unsure of what feels like home anymore.  She has 20 published chapbooks, recently won the Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest, and was a finalist in the Bevel Summers Short Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in L.A. Review of Books, Tupelo Quarterly, and Shenandoah.