Living in the City

The cobblestone streets and sidewalks
were hard, with blood in the cracks.
Old buildings held the cries of mothers
and children, the laughter of immigrants.
It was the only world we knew and though rivers
ran below the rock palisades the earth had forgotten us
and we were left to fight it out beneath the streetlights.
Somewhere above the glare we believed there were stars,
that a moon still graced the sky, but we were looking down
and around the corner braced for the next raft of trouble.
Sometimes there would be songs on the corner
and girls in high heel shoes, their legs showing
beneath a red skirt, click click clicking for our attention.
We were desperate for love but usually settled for a brawl.
I remember all their names, their faces, wish I had been
a better friend, loved that girl a little stronger,
held her tighter until that pulse between our legs
could find the joy that only came at midnight.
Out of time’s cloud I hold them dear,
with all the faults of exiles in a stolen land,
wanting to go home, wanting to be loved,
wanting to live the one life we still could dream.





Only This Life

I’ve shaped wood
into the soft curve
of tapered molding
and myself
into a rough hewn beam
to support the weight
of generations.
Resting on the columns
of all who went before
I hold up the roof
for those coming.
Look into the well of life,
the mirror of your heart.
There is only this life.
Why serve the infidel?



photograph by Willard Walch