cities have souls too, you know,
some malignant and ugly,
sneering, full of derision;
some benign and beautiful,
some merely indifferent
and uninviting, bland, lacking
ambiance, pizzazz, character.
some cities spit dust.
some cities swallow without chewing first.
some cities rust out before their time,
arthritic and osteoporotic,
empty windows, crumbling bricks,
some cities are pitiful, joints aching
with unfulfilled dreams.
some cities are pugilistic,
legs apart, arms akimbo,
daring you to knock the chips off
their blocks, ready to solve their problems
with fists and amplified voices.
some cities squander their chances
in one gamble too many.
some cities have had it up to here.
some cities blush with cheeks
of blooming fruit trees, invite you in
for tea and an afternoon of discussing
the latest New York Times best seller,
genteel with old money.
some cities are steepled and mapled,
recycle and go green and please
some cities lick their lips and turn on
the red light and say baby, baby,
don’t be afraid, it’s only money and
you’re not a cop, are you?
some cities say everything’s for sale.
some cities say you can’t touch this.
some cities wear their rainbows with pride.
some cities are limos and taxies
and underground trains.
some cities bicycle to lunches of wraps
and salads and unsweetened tea.
some cities take their coffee black.
some cities only drink bottled water.
some cities hunker down and slurp
right from the river.
some cities are lazy, dingy,
busted streetlights, broken bottles,
peeling billboards, gutter trash.
some cities sleep on the streets
and wheedle spare change.
some cities are caricatures of themselves.
some cities feel like prison walls.
some cities offer you a light,
a couch for the night, a bowl of soup,
the shirts off their backs.
some cities sing in unfamiliar voices,
move in alien rhythms, but beg you
to join in anyway.
some cities coruscate in sunlight, effervescent
with laughter and confident of time.
some cities glow soft in the darkness, like
fireflies seen from a rooftop, neoned
and open all night.
some cities close their eyes and pretend
you’re not even there.
some cities are come-as-you-are,
let it all hang out, let’s hold hands and
put a flower in the government’s rifle.
some cities cry over spilled milk.
some cities look the other way.
these are not my city.
my city is hardscrabble.
my city is plodding and stodgy, and weighed
down by the grime on its neck and the dirt
under its fingernails.
my city works hard
for the money, blue collared, blue jeaned,
blues on the radio, rock in its roll,
tired to its soul
but dragging out of bed in the morning
for one day closer to retirement.
my city has dogs in the backyard,
motorcycles in the garage;
my city cashes its checks
and goes to the movies,
bets on the Lottery,
reads poetry when nobody’s watching.
my city cheers for the underdog.
my city has Great Lakes in the refrigerator
and Wonder Roast on the table.
my city just opened fresh bags of chips
and Cheetos, my city is pulling up
an extra chair.
my city is holding the door open.
my city slaps you on the back,
offers you a brew, says
come on in, willya, and wipe your feet, and
welcome to the neighborhood.
~ Dianne Borsenik