Tuesday, March 10, 2009

sad town

Hey guys, a friend emailed me this article about the state of foreclosure in Cleveland:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/magazine/08Foreclosure-t.html?emc=eta1.

I grew up in Cleveland (I left when I was 14), so I wrote this poem in response. I really do love that town, and god damn it, everyone there deserves better. City of steel, man! Birthplace of The Man of Steel and Rock and Roll!


Cleveland


I saw a city made of heat and steel
and
lost old men waving
broad canes
of oak
in the drowning canal.

oh Eerie, the lake of the
only
ones, the eerie wake of the breeze
of the salt children,
the cracked and forgotten
pile of broken metal
nail files hanging
in the abandoned hot dog shop.
a coffee
shop too, or some
ordained pizza place, a groove
of loose hoppers

flying about in red zippers, zapping
cars wheels
and taunting the lonely girls
in their cop cars, riding shotgun
next to
empty fathers and belting
out the siren song of crime-be-
good-and-crime-be-gone.

I was a cricket in the lap of some hobo
and
he set me free in the baseball stadium;
I was a box of
rice on the windowsill
and did I oh too eager
go wayward across clotheslines falling;
I was the little
boy in the beat-up wagon hoping
to catch some city lights;
I was the tip top of the
leery bleer beam;
I was the dead sailor arriving
truncated and turned
out
in the bowels of a maroon ship.

and my mother
had fastened
for me the fascination of leaving,
and waving,
and the homebuyers sitting
on picket fences parading empty
shoes,
and
the lack of the entire ones, chirping, playing
in pools, summer
time sonatas and shiftless
bastards walking into banks with brass
cuff links.

all this time, chants the city,
all this time,
you will be mine,

undergo the status, and the shake,
the quotient is to
be and to be
is simply a ride on the rapids
around the city common and
shout with the shouters
and love with the damned.

Cleveland got it right first
when they
stumbled and ate mortar;
the rest
of the world merely
needs to learn such grace before
it too can perform
such a dauntless task.

oh Cuyahoga, I’d rather imagine you as a god
in the clouds than a drainy
rain bleaming geek in the pantry
tripping over bags of rice.

perhaps you’d rather imagine me as
the mayor of no
no
no and that if I unfolded
my secret key and map all would
be well.

graceless couples kill their
kids in broken buggies,

but the best of us
still line the streets in order to
wave them on.

the streets are endless
and we
to echo have
become sheets of fog;
beauty, if ever,
rides low in the rumble between
empty homes and
laughing
dogs.


3 comments:

Dorla Moorehouse said...

I also grew up in Cleveland; I spent 24 years there, and just left in May 08 to move to Austin.

While I don't miss winter, I'm nonetheless sad to see my city breaking down like that.

Chris S said...

Wow, that's nuts. It's a small world in Texas, I guess. And yeah, it's pretty sad what's happening there (and everywhere, really). I'd say I still miss the winter, but then I left at fourteen, so my memories are a little candy coated in kiddie vision.

Dorla Moorehouse said...

Yeah, I don't think you'd miss the winter if you'd stay there long enough to have to actually pay the heating bills. ;)

I do miss autumn a lot, but I've enjoyed my first Texas winter.