May 09, 2008

Poetry Friday: No Poetry Here

No poetry here today, kids. I haven't got room left in my soul. Today there is no meter and rhyme and carefully paced words, only room left for a lament.

I'm in the middle of a construction zone, since the roof to our building is being replaced, and across the street they're tearing down a bowling alley and replacing it with probably another high rise. D. is trying to write his final papers before embarking on his dissertation and I'm trying to finish revising a novel by June.


With the drilling and the cutting torches and the fourteen stories of scaffolding and the workmen and the hardhats and the backhoe and all, none of this is going very well.

Apartment hunting can be fun -- if you're watching it on TV. The reality of trekking through tons of flats when you're relying on buses and cabs for transportation is -- flat out -- hard. And being cheek-by-jowl with my fellow man has my introverted soul twitching, and has renewed my fierce hatred for all things urban.

I just want this to be over.

The poet asks, "What's wrong with the human race?" If you've asked that question this week, here's a bit of solace for you. No poetry, just tea and sympathy here.

Urban Law

Rush hour and the urban outflow pours

across the Million Dollar Bridge. I wait

for the walk-light, cross-traffic slight but

caution's the rule when the city roars

toward all its separate homes. I get


the sign, little electric man, and step

into the street. A woman turns into

my lane, bearing down, eye-contact,

and still she guns it until I stare and

shake my head in disbelief at her

ferocity. She slows begrudged to let

me pass, runs down the window of her Saab

and shouts, "Why don't you wait for the light?"

and flips me the bird. I feel weepy like


a punished child, mind sinking to lament,

What's wrong with the human race? Too many

of us, too crowded, too greedy for space—

we're doomed, of course, so I head for coffee

and a muffin, walking sad and slow on

the return. I'm waiting again to cross,

picking fingersful of muffin from the

paper sack and watching the phalanx of

cars race by, not even a cell of a


thought in my mind that I might jump the change,

when a man who's got the green stops,

an executive wearing a crisp white

shirt and shiny red tie, and he raises

his palm to gesture me safely across,

making all the cars behind him wait while

I walk, and together at rush hour that

man and I redeem the whole human race.


by Alison Hawthorne Deming from Genius Loci. © 2005, Penguin Poets.




A Mother's Day flavored Poetry Friday is hosted by Writer2B (aaaargh! That's one more thing I've forgotten with this insane last two weeks), and don't miss the return of Norbert at Big A little a who asks, i kan haz books 2 shredz?...

12 comments:

writer2b said...

I'd be climbing the walls too... Silence, at least a teensy portion, is a requirement!

Perfect poem.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

I can't take it when people flip up that middle finger in traffic. It doesn't even make me angry; it makes me want to cry, representative of all the bad things that happen when people get too busy and rude.

Anyway, good luck. Sorry it's a rough time.

Jules, 7-Imp

TadMack said...

Here, during rush hour, it's worse. It's sort of terrifying -- people crossing the streets by the hundreds, going sixteen different directions, looking like an ant farm that's been knocked on its side. It's harder for me because I still am not quite accustomed to the traffic being backwards -- but really, I'm good, I'm just whining!

jama said...

Great poem. Thank god for the man at the end. Hope things get better over there very soon!

Liz in Ink said...

Honey. I cannot tell you how viscerally I sympathize with you. At this very moment, a backhoe out my window and the electricians in the house flicking power on and off, on and off again. Breathe breathe breathe....

a. fortis said...

I'm with you, Jules--people who inflict their road rage on me make me want to cry.

On another note, I'm sure Glasgow is probably much less insane compared to Beijing--which was the CRAZIEST city I've ever seen in terms of sheer human density: cars, trucks, bikes, carts, people walking around in the middle of all the other vehicular traffic...if we hadn't had a tour guide to follow, I would seriously have been petrified.

Cloudscome said...

I was really feeling so sad for you when you said all you had was hammering and no poetry! Then of course you pulled a lovely one out of your hat. Just like the man waiting on a green. Blessings on the new flat you are about to find!

Kelly said...

Ah, the sweet cry of an introvert :)

Hang in there, Tadmack. Here's wishing you a suburban, garden flat!

Sheila said...

I loved that poem! It gave me chills at the end. Hang in there, and good luck with your flat hunting.

Kelly Fineman said...

Oh, how I loved the ending line with its talk of redeeming the whole human race. Thanks for sharing it.

I hope you get some silence over the weekend.

Kelly said...

BTW: I love the LOLcatification of Norbert :)

Mary Lee said...

I, too, wish you a lovely quiet flat found sooner than you can imagine. And also someone who will team up with you to redeem the human race. And just for good measure, the coffee and muffin, as well!