The Walled City

September 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment


The Walled City

In the Walled City
there is little silence, and peace
is nearly unknown.
Vague vain images flicker
here; suggested delights (somehow

different from dull
reality) beckon…

The place is filled
with machines. Some can no longer add; others can
walk a flight of stairs.

(The park has long
been closed. Even the
grass is dying…
there is no sun
to sit in; only
a dirty pall…)

So little expression
on these faces. Pretty women
turn their faces
toward walls; men avoid
direct glances.

The suits and dresses
in the air-conditioned spaces insulate the world away.

Separations: going out
into the crowded street,
with its rude jostling
and smells, its panoply

of cars, noises, tired
gray faces…
who has not
at some time dreamed
of green fields, clear
air, uncluttered

but then, we all at times
have foolish dreams.

Having left the City
for a while: foreign journeys
in unfamiliar spaces.
lend me your smile
and i may be able to mutter
your name: on todenstrasse, once,

a gang of rough men
approached us, and we
somehow expected a fight, being young, rather drunk,
and callow.
But they were only
common laborers, and as
they passed us, laughing,
they invited us to drink with them.

Japan was different though:
an island-city of a thousand
little deft people
who seemed to rarely smile,
as if born foreigners
within their own land.

–But on Chuo Hill, once, just
beyond the train, i met
an old lady, kimono-
clad; and she smiled
like the sudden opening
of an unsuspected flower.

…in Hong Kong, Bangkok,
Kaoshiung, Olongapo,

I sought some uncommon
meaning, escape
from my citied soul. But
the streets

were all streets of that same city: the faces in their
become no different, merely anonymous; the voices,
merged, unchanging, country to country:

all were men and all
with dreams: and the Taiwanese fellow felt
the same needs as did i,

all separation in a sense
artificial. the lovers,
port to port, were one
Lover; nameless, primal

and (perhaps this follows)
quite meaningless.

…I have never, i say,
left the Walled City.

I have dreamed too often of wisdom
to have any real belief
left in it. time mutates:
truth is either evanescent,
a thing of perspective–

or nothing at all, a vain
conceit, an empty illusion.
These escapes that were promised: navel-ward voyages
and stony treks on thorny paths, crosses and swords

and the primal baptism
of violence…these hinted Mysteries have brought no
these sacrifices
have brought no answer to our prayer.

Perhaps our rituals
have grown old, these words
worn by habit’s usage
to nothing save
a celebration of the past.

Searching for a name, perhaps,
a way to be, a path
toward the self, i have found only progressions,

Walking the grayed streets
of the Walled city, absent-
eyed, i have known only
night’s unfailing preludes
and endless, dying

This was written in 1974. It was written about…NOW I had done something that I felt would unfortunately ensure the “walled city syndrome”–physical separation of classes as defined by “social worth”–money and power defining that, naturally.


No, my name isn’t Nostradamus nor am I Svengali.  Well, as far as I know…

Entry filed under: poetry, Politicians and Power, voices. Tags: , .

repetitions to a young girl

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