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Saturday 10 December 2011

City Arrival

This poem is for submission to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads who have set Arrivals and Departures as this week's theme.
It is also for submission to Poets' United's Thursday Think Tank #77 whose theme is The City

A culture shock:
something from my past.
Flashbacks from North Africa.
The Desert.
Something of it snapping in my brain.
Compulsions crowding in...

For instance, if I'd see a column on the move
I'd have to tag on to the end of it. The only way
to stay alive I reckoned
come what may
no matter what I was supposed to do.

It took years to beat that one.
Only living in a tight community
small and intimate
could help to win my war. But this...

I'm claustrophobic.
Phobic by the yard.
The desert was an endless blank.
Oddly enough, this is the opposite,
yet even so it brings the ancient symptoms back to me
still with all their fire and the old terror.
It's not the towering office blocks
the dust storms in the streets
the unknowingness of where I am
and which way's out of here...

... and here? No need to join the crowd.
I'm swept along
a small leaf in a storm.
There's no escape, even if I had a mind to
which I don't. The mind I have insists I stay:
Go with the crowd, where ever it flows
and sooner or later you will end up somewhere:

that is what it says. So in three days
I've been to my first football match,
I've caught a train I didn't want
to somewhere that I didn't know
and visited a shopping mall
with not a cent to spend.
I think it's fair
to say I'm lost.

These mile high piles of lego bricks...
jet black windows just reflecting more
of what I see around me -
and the only clouds I ever see
I see swim by in them. Just like the desert:
unchanging vistas. Visual
units endlessly repeated mile on mile.

Skyscrapers don't they call them?
Sky-blockers in my book!
The city stifles -
which come to think of it
is what the desert did to me.
They are the same.


The Unknowngnome said...

Nice take on the desert and the city and nice shot, a "twofer", maybe a "fourfer", since you also hit IGwRT and PU. :)

Fireblossom said...

I love the clouds going by in the windows and the way you use the blocked sky to portray a disturbing environment. Thanks a lot for being part of FF, Dave!

Brother Ollie said...

Sky-blockers in my book!
The city stifles -

New York suffers from this. Good one DK.

sunny said...

beautiful poetry Mr Dave,

haricot said...

Very vast landscapes and contrast in this poem that reminds me of "Terre des hommes".

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Excellent write!

Sky-blockers - yes indeed!

Never seen a desert yet can imagine that their barreness is comparable with cities devoid of a soul.

Anna :o]

Brian Miller said...

nice...i love the city though, all its nooks and crannies in the shadows...i like how you contrast it with the desert...

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like the idea of being swept along ' a small leaf in a storm' - good image that Dave.

Mary said...

I can only imagine the effects of the desert, Dave. Some things stay with a person forever and continue to have their effects LONG afterwards.

(As an aside, easy to walk through a shopping mall with no money to spend. I do it a lot, just for the exercise. LOL.)

Kerry O'Connor said...

"I think it's fair
to say I'm lost."

These are the lines which sum up for me the effects of warfare on survivors in far too many instances. You captured the claustrophobia of phobias very astutely in this piece.
My grandmother drove trucks of troops in North Africa - I've heard of the things seen and experienced in that time.

Kass said...

Never thought of juxtaposing the city and the desert. You've described a barren feeling really well here.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Dave, this is a very intriguing write. An interesting link between an African desert and a city - one wouldnt have connected the two, but you are right - the sameness of the vista. A visit to a stadium, mass transit and a mall would be enough to send this confirmed hermit into a nunnery! hee hee. Very well written and interesting to read. Thanks!

Abin Chakraborty said...

wealth of details vivify the impressions.nice one.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

But maybe the city in its stifling manages to be even more desert than the desert.

Powerful final stanza in a poem that seemed to carefully prepare it.

Windsmoke. said...

I like the way you weaved two vastly different landscapes together in the last stanza which i agree both can be stifling, very clever indeed :-).

Kay L. Davies said...

A fascinating look at compulsion with very interesting metaphors. Well done, Dave.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Scarlet said...

I feel the same constraints too when I am in a city. Nice image and comparison with the unchanging desert, an endless blank ~

Shreya said...

Nicely written. great read. :)


jabblog said...

You captured very well the feeling of being swept along helplessly. 'Jet black windows' - faceless, featureless, merciless.

Dave King said...

The Unknowngnome
I hadn't thought about a 'fourfer', but I'll claim it just the same, the way goal scorers claim the goals they didn't know they'd scored. Thank a million. Good to have pals like u.

My thanks is to FF. Much enjoyed this one. And thanks, too, for the comment.

Old Ollie
Good to know that others think so, too. Thanks.

Great to know you thought so. Thanks for saying.

A very apt comparison, if I might say so. Thanks.

Much appreciate the remarks. Thanks for them. The comparison was not visual.

Thanks Brian. Useful comment.

The Weaver of Grass
Like being swept off one's feet all over again, I thought.

Take your point about the mall - Doreen, could do the same. A man, couldn't though.

Many thanks for such an interesting response to my piece. A most delightful (for me) outcome, much appreciated.

Can't say it had occurred to me - until I got into the poem. Thanks a lot.

Sherry Blue Sky
Thank you for these interesting observations. It is really good to have replies like this.

Hi, a warm welcome to you. Many thanks for visiting and for your comment.

Thanks Tommaso. Yes, I do think you are right: the city can be more of a desert than the desert itself. The reverse side of the coin from being a jungle, I suppose.

Thank yo for that. It's been really good to find that others have seen it this way too.

Thank you very much for your interest and response. You are very welcome. Good to have you.

Good to have your comment. Thank you so much for it.

A very warm welcome to you, and my thanks for your comment.

Dave King said...

Thank you for a valued comment.

Ygraine said...

From the vastness of the desert to the claustrophobia of the city, compulsions seem to hold sway.
I'm only at ease with the sky-blockers of the Forest.
Only there I feel normal!

raven said...

But I get the feeling that it isn't just "the desert," but that it is war that you fought in the desert. Is that so? It just feels like that.

This is a unique take on the city ... not mine, but I definitely like it and have room for it in my views.

Chèvrefeuille said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I loved reading your poems.
I prefer haiku, but the longer poems I love too.

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