Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alone in the City

I’m a great fan of Edward Hopper’s art: those images of solitary people in city venues are haunting. There is so much emptiness, sparseness in his pictures; his people caged in the emptiness. I have often sat looking at reproductions of these, they move me; yet when I went to write a poem on a similar theme, it came out crowded: more influenced by urban jazz and its motor-junk sound than by those wonderful images.
Funny that, writing poetry is often more about letting it happen in your head than directing it. The subject matter seems to negotiate the furniture in your head and emerge as it will.

City Lives.

They shout into space,
answer each other like whales
across great haunted distances;
they never meet,
only sound waves ever meet.

Alone in their canyons,
they roar.
Rooms upon rooms
upon houses upon houses
upon streets upon streets:
roars spilling out,
spilling over,
spilling down.

A million sound waves,
a million discordancies
tumbling, surging,
pouring out
onto the streets,
into the traffic,
wheels, cogs, pistons:

the cannibal jazz
of cities.

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