The City: A Poem

The City: A Poem

I sing of the city revived. Citizen, I cry to you in
favor of integration and municipal reconstruction. It
is time that you reckoned up the cost of your own follies.

Consider: a city wasted at the guts like present-day
Detroit, or like Carthage, Zabae or ancient Tun Huang
whose market stalls have crumbled into dust and whose
main squares have become the stony pasture for goats.

With the receding of the third, seventh and eighteenth
waves of traffic, the lungs of the metropole have been
pumped dry. Nothing is left but old postal routes,
cracked mains, and monuments torn from their plinths
lying among the hardback and huckleberry—species
which seem to readily colonize these burned-out areas.

The spirit of applied mathematics broods. All surfaces
bear the glacial traces of cars. The wheel has described
its double arabesque, its exquisite compound
parabola, on a field of bare snow.

Children play among the debris. They climb barefoot
among the fashionable used brick and antique doorknobs
salvaged from the old Murray Hill Hotel. A small
replica of the Gulf Oil building has been reconstructed
out of rusted beer cans. The Jumel Mansion has been
reassembled out of the shards of cracked flower pots.

Parades are held. Chlorophyll has become scarce.
Gigantic mushrooms inflated with helium are pulled
through the charcoal streets. On the cornices of the
public library, lime-gatherers are at work.

In the main gathering place, which is called “Mauve
Square,” a statue has been set up in memory of monochrome,
who has devoted a large part of his very considerable
fortune during the past years towards the rediscovery
of pigment. His factories have been opened to the blind
of all ages, who work there without discrimination, and in
the most agreeable circumstances.

Already three of the six known primary colors have been
synthesized, and it is confidently predicted that the
entire spectrum, as it was originally worked out, will
be rediscovered during the next decades.