Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To a small midwestern town

What arrogant
Corn-fed Bonaparte
Dared bestow upon
This two-bit crossroad
The name we give with justice
Only to the great:
New York, Paris, New Delhi, Sao Paulo
A city?

Your upstart streets
Know nothing of
True city ways
The grit and grandeur
The grotesque lassitude
And violent optimism
That beggar and boast

No, you claim your title
Not by achievement
But by counting heads
The weathered and illegal countenance
Of those you summon to your trailer parks
And to your factory floor
Yet neither wish to clothe nor feed.

And then you gather
In the barber-shop
At the soda-jerk
On the hallowed bleachers
Of the high school gym
And watch each other
Sweat and gasp
For air.

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