When living in a city such as this,
One wonders where the virtues all have gone.
For here’s a source of much of all the vice
That darkens this, the planet we are on…
And some will say, “This place is not the worst.”
And this might be, for famine, war, disease
Are horrors – that our burghers here are spared –
Whose ravages, in places far, increase.
And surely, there are decent folk who live
In cities such as this, where Mammon rules.
But these are quiet. They accept the vice,
For those who don’t are treated here as fools.
What place is there, in such a city, for
The ones who dream – or even write in verse?
Along with those, who point to right and wrong,
Such folk receive the cynic’s shrug – or curse.
What space is there, in such a race as this,
For those who pause or even dare to stand?
For both of these require a state of mind
The racers shun and will not understand.
There’s sugar piled in heaps along the streets
But even children do not pause to taste.
And only when the pavements too are glazed
Do passersby attempt to check their haste.
For this is New York City – as in towns,
Across the world, of industry, finance,
The citizens are racing. Each awakes
To those alarms that start the fevered dance.
You’ll see them running, so’s to catch the train.
You’ll catch them napping, while they ride, because
They’re short of sleep. So workers feed the fire
In which they burn. The mills can never pause.
Some race because they must, to just survive,
But others have the dollar in the eye.
“Accumulate, and in the hustle, thrive!
And shove aside the ones, who question why!”
So finer instincts yield to coarser ones
As each competes and pushes, pulls in turn.
So men and women turn to zombies crazed,
As spirit’s ashes fill the urban urn.
It’s winter. So the heaps are fallen snow
That’s sullied by the city’s soot – with light
Reflecting still from crystals – in the day
From angled sun – and from the lamps at night.
But soon enough, the snow will turn to slush
And people, as they wade the pools, will curse,
As poets too, whose shoes and socks are soaked
With fluids dark and chill, neglect their verse…
So beauty is ignored, until it turns
To ugliness that taxes weary souls.
For this is New York City – like its twins,
Around the globe, whose denizens are ghouls.
They came from places far, from villages
Where people had the time to sit, converse –
Or even towns where paces might have been
A little slower, and the speech less terse.
What happened? You can see it in the kids.
In places such as this, you’ll often find,
Among the ones who still are whole, the ones
Afflicted with the illnesses of mind.
2015 February 7th, Sat.
(with stanzas added Feb. 8th, Sun.)
Brooklyn, New York