>CITYSPEAK — a Poem (for once I thought I became a city!)
>This was my last contribution to poet and activist Dustin Brookshire‘s Project Verse. Something that I wrote in a tearing hurry between power outages and a summer of 100 F + heat outside in Delhi. While I sweltered and wrote, my mind went back to New York and Chicago, mostly experienced in cooler climes, and what they appeared to my not-too-accustomed eyes in relation to my six years of residence in the US. Actually I cheated a bit. This poem is written from a sketchy draft I already had in my mind, had probably even written down somewhere… I just resurrected it. The exercise was about metaphors and similes.
Why is the speaker a city? Why is there reference to cities as siblings? You tell me. I’m an unabashed city-lover and dweller so my opinion may be biased! Here is the poem:
I didn’t have half brothers or sisters, now I do
Siblings in angst, about who grew up faster, smarter.
Macadamized heartbeats, belching, lying in the sun
bristling in the smog of hyperventilating rush hours
toenails curled inwards. That’s how we are.
Brother Chicago, from my labyrinth of freeways
I’ve seen your billboards flashing its psychedelic lure
your finger slow-motioning from the cloud tops
entwining me to your belly button deep and bright.
Your other brother or sister – that gushy half-sibling
New York is Woody Allen. Worried, glib! It arcs
a sharp tongue across Manhattan’s cacophony
rips off the rootedness of our shared metro mangrove.
Laying with its jaunty back of a brooding T-rex
Chicago squints at the waterside, not ready to budge
polishes its towering whiskers – unperturbed even in the snow.
New York slams me for calling out its name
for even thinking I could write these words –
its skyline a lost ship that hopes someone will come
anchor in its teenaged grudge. Well, let it gnaw!
Listen two cities. Don’t tell Kafka, I’ve turned into a city
unyielding, aching and stymied. Forever looking inside.
A silently gregarious square tucked into my seams.
Image from my computer: Downtown Chicago