Grim pilgrimage

Not the ideal Platonic city,
not a microcosm,
this urban landscape
is not a fractal of anything.

The grim images can’t be ignored
in the once-capital of the Confederacy,
the cracked concrete and people,
the smell of old fast-food fat,
flowering trees screening crumbling
brick buildings, shrubs hiding trash.

Outside the Art Museum,
part of the lawn has worn
down to dirt; the pond
reflecting Chihuly’s costly flames
is choked with algae; fame
means nothing to nature.

But there is Dance, Opera, Theatre,
“Wicked” is coming soon; the sign
shows in fragments through the trees
above the hive of the homeless.

We come for the Art, the shopping
and dining, the Culture, the nightlife,
the murals and painted porch rails,
the quaint cobblestone streets,
the urban renewal… the hope.
Somewhere in the Petrie dish,
in this culture of decay, something
good may be growing.

I hope this city is not a microcosm,
not a fractal of the world;
somewhere is the ideal
urban landscape, clean and green,
with Art and Culture and Dining for all.

We rarely leave our rural paradise, and when we make the urban pilgrimage, it’s for doctors’ appointments, book signings, big box shopping, salsa dancing, and a dose of Culture. Then, inoculated if not satisfied, we go home, vowing never to return.
Until next time.

Photo: inside a thrift shop. From this side, the dust doesn’t show.



  1. Denise, I understand that ambivalence between urban and rural. I enjoyed your realistic view of what many US urban areas look like these days. They and their infrastructure — roads, water pipes, and sewage disposal systems in particular — have been neglected for far too long. As Dwight suggested, I agree that they generally reflect the state of our American culture as a whole. I enjoyed your vivid descriptors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading this. Amid the moral decline and decadent aspects of the city, life still flourishes. And your hope is my hope too, although I wonder if it’s a bit idealistic. I hope everyone irrespective of status and class can live and not merely survive. Great poem. It got me thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is such a contrast from the city to the solace of the rural countryside. Your vivid descriptions bring it to life. I am not a big city gal….somewhere in between feels just right. My American husband was surprised at the difference regarding clean, uncluttered space when he moved here.

    Liked by 1 person

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