In These Cities


There’s eight million, or maybe 4 million, or possibly twelve million souls in the naked city by now, and at least half of them seem to be calling themselves poets.
When I first started writing poems, I think there were eleven, or sixteen. I allowed that there might eventually be a few sub-tribes but that these would be grouped around maybe 20 in total.
I figured this by that fact that the ones who make wonder and light seem to be speaking from inside me, and even now it feels like we’re sitting around sharing late afternoon light, a few evenings and some dark nights. They’re always present.

We don’t even have to be introduced. We know each other. We have nothing to prove, and everything to enjoy. Endless wonder and delight fill our time.
I cherish that time, though it always seems to end.

I have to return to the ordinary world of dead souls, broken dreams, schemes, and mayhem where great engines of the mind lay rusting against many midnights.

Moving through neighborhoods grown wide, work has invaded everywhere. Everyone knows, everyone bows, all are expecting the same, and the sparrows of my youth are nowhere to be seen.

Whenever on my travels I was in the vicinity a poet’s house, I’d make a special trip there. I’d go and look up, imagine them and their life, writing and doing. I’d be lost in the immensity of it.

Now I slog through the unrecognizable paths and streets. I pass a hundred roads and avenues, nobody calls my name. The silences have fled, replaced by noise.
Instead there are strangers yelling their names out windows onto the boulevards, certain of cash and fame. Bereft.

I keep walking, making calls which few recognize, eventually sure that one day when I have passed that way, suddenly a porch light will shine in the evening and another timelessness reign.

©Dean Baker

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