The City...A Poem



City dwellers no touch of healing nature feel.

Better parks than not, of course. Without them,

naked urban hell is fully realized.

But parks are worn and beaten things,

dreary from too many feet and weary souls;

haggard trees; squirrels and pigeons winsome,

ragged beggars like, unlike, the mounds

of homeless flesh interred in bush, on bench

where lusts of urban man inflamed are quenched.


The only nature that they see, enslaved by zoo

and on TV, with pixeled bird and flotsam beast;

isolation by technology splendidly complete.


Glass and steel, no matter how they shimmer in the light –

bring oohs and aahs to touring bumpkin lips by night

(from cynic cityite if they would but admit) –

are comfortless and cold, towering too hard and high

beyond the head of man and tree

to do much good, though profits may accrue;

an unremitting din and mass of life entrapped

with no escape from other torn and harried ones,

the metal pot in which they stew –

except for prison box or two.


No. This is too far from autumn fields that sway

their loaded heads of golden grass and grain.

Too far from harvest odds and ends – escaped from thresher's blade --

great, grey geese croon to eat, like folks with bad head colds,

before the winter ending of their stay, their haunting cry

when taking wing from pond and plain to form their mythic V.


Sad scrape of late crickets magnified by autumn's

tardy, lowered light, ebb, insistent loss; birds

that leave before December closes down the summer store –

shelf-full of sustenance – that will be born again

like monarch flying hordes New York to Mexico,

girded fairy wings by nature's granite will.


So we learn the laws of life, poetry and lack of it,

through nature's wicked grace, man's flaw;

that wisdom yet may yield beyond the harlot's tale,

exposed alone to vile act, works of man.


If city living seems to prosper by the "art and culture"

it provides, it matters greatly what that art and culture are.

If artists of past greatness – greater than our own –

then that is culture true enough.

But if we linger over that produced today,

we amplify our loneliness, the tragedy of city life;

the urban toll of emptiness made emptier

by art with soul itself on hold, destroyed,

stripped bare by artifice and sterile, modern lie.


Copyright by Don Gray


Don Gray Art  •  Poems