Visions of a city

Between all the signs of modernity —

glass-to-sky, scaffolding, sleek lines —

I scour the streets seeking this city’s ghosts 

the old cemeteries are the only places still alive 

there, ghosts breathe among trees and birds and earth-scents

elsewhere, cobbles and ancient stones whisper, but silently

their shadows hidden by larger, darker forms 

and parasols, slogans screaming brightly.

I did what I could to seek them, these ancient figures,

but so much of them is gone, so much of now is blind to the past

I went down to the river, hoping the water would at least be constant

but even it it is barely recognizable, churned now by motors and fumes.

The heart of this city is a-bustle 

everyone moving to their own rhythm

but here and there doors remain slightly ajar, open onto lives past,

hinting at some other world.

Glancing sideways I have seen them in their aloof existence

beyond the  hot, dripping streets.

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Home is a city that doesn’t exist

In my dreams I still visit
the stories of this city.

She is a gathering of villages
grown and spread and near obsolete,
woven together
the ghosts of her founders lurk, people the shadows
of tree-dappled parks and streets
and river paths overhung with iron bridges.

I wander down the Pottery Road
where the abandoned brickworks lie crumbling
scooped into the crook of the Don River
and along the banks the Algonquin paddled
their ghosts long-since driven,
then up and down her streets again
past shops and bars and cafes like no other.

This city lives on in my memory – just dreams
built on history, fed with art and promise
no concrete jungle here, not yet,
the four seasons still colour-cycle through
her canopy, this vestige of the land’s ancient glory
lining now the roads and avenues
trails the first peoples once tread.

The pictures on all the postcards
tell of a great lake and lights twinkling
stretching away into the night
but I know her skyscrapers grow and multiply
crowding the lake-fed sky
shadowing the brick-red houses
of earlier times left behind
and I still remember the day
the tallest tower first stood
with a hundred children’s names signed to it.

In my dreams I still visit
the stories of this city.

I thought I would live my life there.

 

 

 

The prompt from NaPoWriMo day 16 was to fill out an “almanac questionnaire” about a specific place, real or imagined, and to then write a poem inspired by one or some of the answers. Without giving it much thought, I began answering the questions about my hometown. It didn’t take long for me to get lost down memory lane, eulogizing my favourite parts of the city. As the poem formed, I had to admit that this place I think of as home is both real and imagined – and though it’s been 23 years since I lived there, I still dream about it, still call it home.

Indexing History

Just as religion in religious wars
lacks the appearance of education, of equality,
anomalies in life, like chastity
and the maps and charts of marriage
are the debunkers of relationships;
in our history, we dream freely of gardens,
of sexual freedom as pleasing to icons,
and of childhood as the ideal of humanity.

 

For NaPoWriMo day 12, a little index poem from the book currently residing on my bedside table, Champlain’s Dream, by David Hackett Fischer.

Second hand story

Through time-mists, history
muddled, enshrouded,
an eternal mystery,
keeps the brilliant guessing;
missed pieces further confound,
inspiring mythologies believed —
sun-star pantheons stretching midday to midnight
and back again —
while we, fantastical peoples of the future,
search for answers
attempting to discern across distance unfathomable.

This is no science fiction,
neither non-fiction,
simply fiction.

I read this fascinating article on new theories about Stonehenge last night and it got me thinking about our understanding – or attempts anyway – of history.