Cityscape

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I feel the assault as I emerged from the ground, palming the glass globe. Shake.

Weighted necks and heavy hands
Women littered with beaded jewels
Men with gelled hair, examining nail beds
Boys dressed as cowboys
Girls dressed as lakes
Fluid, lucid beauties with ice cream colored skin and shiny acrylic nails,
clicking on stair railings and door handles
Singers tonguing notes
Musicians strum guitars covered in half peeled stickers of unknown bands
Members in suburban carpools and leads crooning in coffee shops

Where pigeons circle crumbs and bums and buildings scatter sunlight.

Visual artists and street writers posing for people staring at their phones, penning ballads and blues, their Holly Golightly lives, tucking in their hometown roots, though no one notices the loose strands, slippery vowels and silent drawls
Vibrating chords plucked as decoys
from fingers smelling of ethnic street splatter
Sweetening the stall air filled with exhaust and spiced peanuts
Pushing smoking carts with one wheel sputtering until the hiccup of sidewalk cracks

Where pigeons circle crumbs and bums and buildings scatter sunlight.

Full-lipped women strut, striking sultry poses
Body parts carved into small slices, painted blue, red, white
Seen by men robed in apocalypse and freedom
Or the Wall Street boys in their tailored suits
American flags pinned crookedly to their lapels, to their minds
Hands smelling of money and martinis, lemon wedges and wine
Market soaked tongues hidden behind rubber band lips
Discussing our 9-11 presence in the cafes
Sharing bitter grief in between bites of spinach and artichoke ravioli
with chanterelle mushrooms
Amazing and easy, five stars
Serves five
Give a high five

Where pigeons circle crumbs and bums and buildings scatter sunlight.

Sun-spill lightens dark alleys
Weaving gingham patterns around paisley shadowed shapes
While potbellied streets rumble, intestinal trains wind and howl in hungry bowels
Below the feet of mothers holding swollen bellies in midtown
Boots or bows?
Remember those days?
When love and madness collide?
When soft flesh and blankets battle the hard permanence?
In two years they’ll use their strollers as weapons
Strike the heels of those not heeding their time, discussing the merits of
xyz schools, heading towards their pre-k interviews

Where pigeons circle crumbs and bums and buildings scatter sunlight.

The sky continues to dissolve between 1st and 3rd on the grid of moving light
Messy beauties lounging on docks looking out into Times Square
Basking in the blast of neon and noise
Stretching into mirrored skies with nothing on their mind
Slingshots into infinity
Where are the candid moments?
Strike the pose, strike it rich
Children in men’s clothing, girls with womanly gestures
The budding beginning of sexual awareness
Stop sticking out you tongue, girls, or you’ll lick the cocaine floors
Under fallen chandeliers,
Swinging from your false idols
Today’s rebellion is tomorrow’s cliché
Sell your rehab memoirs in Costco for $14.99 only if you did screen time,
Twerked and grind

Where pigeons circle crumbs and bums and buildings scatter sunlight.

Night is but a reflection of lampposts in puddles,
The incandescent sludge of store and sewer runoff
Rainbow colored and ripe, black bags stacked with day old garbage, an earthy brew of make believe and true grit, of dolls and drugs, banana peels and rinds, skin clippings and half drawn faces, cotton soaked excrements and Hallmark cards
Now flip it, before the snow settles
Be the dead poet and stand on your desk
Or sit down
It’s all been done here a million times — word threaders,
shape shifters, gender benders, all the next big 42nd Avenue things
Can’t turn any heads in this concrete beast, best turning it inward

Where pigeons circle crumbs and bums and buildings scatter sunlight.

Arrange the images into magnetic fluidity and rest your eyes on
Everything
Always drawn to the irreverent face
Looking for the knowing eyes and a wounded, laughing soul
Knowing truth rewards the willing
Now shake it up
While they all fall down
Into a peaceful night when snow blankets the human stains
and quiets all the messy minds
Before the next train out, knowing tomorrow
Pigeons will circle crumbs and bums and buildings will scatter sunlight.

-S. S. Hicks

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20 thoughts on “Cityscape

  1. Don Royster

    This one is so Whitmanesque. Your style continues to embrace other poets, making their voices your own.

    Love the imagery in this. Especially the line: Girls dressed as lakes. Wish I had of thought of that one. And this has to be extra special. Just the mention of Holly Golightly. Loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s, both the book and the movie. Truman Capote at his best.

    Not only do I get the noise and visuals of the city, I get the smells as well: Sweetening the stall air filled with exhaust and spiced peanuts. And verse three reminding me of the “Humans of New York” and “The Sartorialist” photographs.

    And here’s another: In two years they’ll use their strollers as weapons. What does that say about us? What does that say about our mindset these days?

    Then there is the pursuit of fame: only if you did screen time,
    Twerked and grind

    Then comes the sixth verse, beginning with Night…filled with images.

    And the final:
    Before the next train out, knowing tomorrow
    Pigeons will circle crumbs and bums and buildings will scatter sunlight.
    A repeat of the chorus, giving us the truth, asking us if we really know what’s important.

    A magical poem. Kind of reminded me of the novel by Mark Helprin, “Winter’s Tale”. It’s all there if we choose to look. Both the good and the bad, the special and the common.

    I am always surprised by where you take we readers. It’s like we’re on your train and we never know what the next station will be like. But we’re sticking with you because you give us such amazing stops.

    1. desertdweller29

      Wow! Thank you, Don. I was afraid this poem was a mess, but then that’s how I view the city. Messy and beautiful. I love your break down of it. Can’t thank you enough for sharing your insight. You leave the best comments. I always appreciate it.

      1. Don Royster

        It is always great to see both you and Marissa post. Unlike so many, you both treat poetry not just as a thing you do, but as a vocation. You respect the art. And both you use the concrete. So many poems I see are just abstracts. You both encourage me in my writing. Thank you for that.

    1. desertdweller29

      That’s why at the end, I get on the train! 🙂 Nice to visit, but after working there, I prefer visiting. Especially since I moved to the desert. Thank you, Pseudonymous! I appreciate your comment. I love how your poetry always surprises me and I look forward to your posts. You seem to sculpt the words as you work.

  2. L. T. Garvin, Author

    This is a powerful portrait of a city and an amazing array of characters and observations. I am a substitute teacher and thoroughly get the line about strollers as weapons. I can likewise both visualize and smell the city…fits very well for Houston and Dallas as I remember working downtown in both those cities. Beautiful, incredible poem!

  3. Debbie

    Once again, DD, you’ve captured the sights, sounds, and scents (odors?) of the Big City, and though I’ve only visited there a few times, everything comes back, reading your words. Probably why I’m content to live among the corn and soybeans, ha!

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