There’s no one feeling that fits all.
It’s exhilarating being so close
to the action.
And pitiable when I see behind the glitter.
I grab a beer,
stand by the window
of my tiny kitchen,
and listened to the groundswell
of people and traffic,
stare at the glare of streetlights and neon,
bright but angry,
a perfect setting for
and the wail of cop cars and ambulances.
someone is out for a good time
and somebody else is out to give them a bad one.
There’s crime like the dark between stars.
You don’t see it until you’re in it.
Guys get laid but they also get maimed.
They drink themselves into heaven
and collapse into hell.
The entertainment and the brutality
are all part of the same blur –
robbery, mugging, shootings
and dance all night
under a spinning silver ball;
get knocked to the sidewalk
while trying to cross a street
or make a killing at an illegal crap game.
People are homeless, hungry, sick, bored,
desperate with loneliness or remorse
and they just can’t get enough of it.
But it’s a city, no better, no worse
than any other I could name.
It’s as unholy as the devil
and yet still dons a halo.
It’s got holes in every pocket
but is rich for all that.
Because it’s dynamic, energetic.
It’s a city that thinks it’s won
when it’s been well and truly beaten,
that’s full of itself
when it’s not full of emptiness.
Those who live in it
wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Even its dead burst with pride
for having died here.
©2018 John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.