Photo credit: @CutterStreeby
Tonight we’ll make heaven when everything else is burning.
Tonight we’ll find Eden in a wasteland of rubble heaps,
Smoldering ruins, splintered asphalt & railway tracks.
Tonight our paradise is underground, packed wall-to-wall,
Air charged with sweat & bass-filled electric speakers.
Tonight we defy that sense of death & streets luring us into
Nihilistic ruin. We’ll retreat later on to the rooftop, watching
Sunrise & her promise of a life beyond this that is unnamed.
Of Life Itself
Sharp, beastly shrilling
of mopeds & motorbikes,
pungent whiffs of weed,
streams of patois on the bus–
3 senses of life itself.
urban street corner
Stretched tight, like a belt
across the North Shore waistline.
A double-verse of city and town,
where factory shells and mill hollows
whisper industrial secrets
to blacked-out storefront windows.
A stimulating multi-ethnic maze,
where Monroe Street
feels like Boston’s Latin Quarter,
while pubs on Broad
have the Irish taste of Southie.
A raw jewel flaunting its gritty allure,
where the promenade on Lynn Shore Drive
points its green and sandy finger
into the Atlantic’s indigo abyss,
where what seems constant
are the saints and a stranger’s front porch,
offering up itself as a peeling front row seat
to watch one’s life transfix in stasis
or set sail to a sanguine horizon.
If one looks closely,
the rays of the sun
become luminous knives
piercing shrouded spaces,
leaving nowhere to hide.
Against the light I witness
this massacre of silent ruin,
where wild and decay
occupy structural order,
and God tags his name in white spray paint.
Head rushing; head rowing on the Charles River
I’ve barely been to Roxbury, Matapan,
South Boston’s Irish Town.
I have not thought to stop like some
lost tourist to compare and contrast
features, challenges, triumphs,
hopes, dreams… lives.
The head rush of race and classism rushes
like the unlikely chance of a Charles River flood –
a flood that slugs lethargically downtown,
leaving the debris of history behind:
Civil rights marches, police confrontations,
bus and school rulings, blood spilt.
I see it, I live it all in my zoned out
head rush dreams.
It’s the Head of the Charles Regatta
and I’m an illegal participant,
head rowing against the tides of bad old days
I pray not to meet again.
I’ve barely been to Matapan, Roxbury,
South Boston’s Irish Town.
But for the sake of similar differences in this city
and nation’s story, I’d like to visit them all again.
Big City America
It’s an eternal summer
in Big City America.
Brother Sun shines his upper-class
blessings on the gentrified metro.
Brooklyn, South-End Boston, Bella Vista,
Bed-Stuy, (White) Chocolate City
grin like Cheshire Cats,
smoking the cigars of reborn status.
It’s an eternal winter
in Big City America.
Sister Storm cloud rains and snows
her working-class maladies
on the broken neighbourhoods and projects.
South-East DC, North Philly, South-Side Chicago,
Spanish Harlem, Detroit,
frown like a night-nauseous moon
standing in line, restlessly,
for that stillborn star-spangled dream.
Here is another urban (or city) poem that I didn’t add to the Urban portraits series I did a some posts back. If the Copley Station described here looks inauthentic that’s because it’s done for a reason.
Subway: Copley Square
The Green Line whistles
to a momentary pause
beneath Copley Square.
As the doors hiss open,
one can feel the underground
heat stick like velcro to
one’s clothes; smell —
the warm sweat hanging in the
air like a noose, the violent meeting of
hissing wheels on archaic tracks
and somewhere close, the delightful
stench of morning coffee and baking pretzels;
hear — a blind saxophonist blasting his breath away,
rats scurrying on the tracks, dim light bulbs,
busy shoes and the railcar doors hissing shut behind
me before chugging off — to where I can not tell.
But he who daringly jumps the turnstiles before me,
his aim, if not his end, can be assumed.
In tow, the policemen’s whistles blow.
One can only observe them leap over a law
so stringently enforced.
The turnstile-jumper sprints, he leads the chase,
barreling toward the approaching pit…
He halts, leaning over the yellow safety line
as the next train clocks frantically in,
and is cuffed and hauled away.
Thus concludes another hour in the subway,
this sub-city street wonderland.
(Where things are more exciting
below ground than above.)
What if Christ was alive in the 21st Century?
The Entrance of Christ in a jalopy
Let him come.
Not in imperious-pressed street preacher suit,
gleaming-black soles, greased hair combed back,
smile a dazzling white
but in prosaic scraps blunted by the sun and heat,
threadbare sandals, long untamed hair
and teeth baring witness
to a meager diet, eaten in the fellowship of brothers,
sisters, kinsmen and converted followers.
Pray thee, let him come driving not
a fantastic Farrari roaring to
announce his arrival, but an
inconspicuous jalopy – a pack car –
lowest in name yet highest in service.
If there is some ticker-tape procession,
let it be. Let the way be cleared for
the arrival of the people’s king.
Along the way the people will praise his name
while false teachers, political leaders, bankers, celebrities and academics
denounce him as a heretic, a terrorist, a strange phenomenon steering away
from the social mainstream.
They will deem it moral and right for an arraignment before his demise.
All the while, this isolato will escape the adulation unscathed and unchanged,
driving on to those whom society in contempt left behind:
The ghettos, slums, fringe communities of outcasts;
the prostitutes, addicts, paraplegics, psychiatrics,
all those who are lost and hungry for the truth,
he will find and until his appointed departure time,
heal them, save them, satisfy their yearning,
showing them the deepest love one will ever know.