The Portrait of a Town

Narrow streets alive with people,

Buzzing,

Condensing with their woes,

The thin air embalming the scene.

The ardent shriek, the baby’s cry crumble

Against the stoic façade of movement.

 

Still in it impatience,

The cow stares at the humming hordes, moving its tail

Side-to-side, to the syncopated rhythm of bird-cries and car-horns.

 

On this canvas of polyphony,

There grows a trenchant silence,

The somber sound of acceptance.

Not of faith or belief but

Of one’s place in the world.

Dreams that shape the mould of fantasy

Wither and fall away like autumn leaves.

 

Tethered to the pole of duty,

Of what must be done than could be.

That person going to work trembles with boredom,

Lacking the fire that sparks

The furnaces that furbish excellence.

Lost in the throes of mindless dynamism,

We are no longer blacksmiths of our future,

Fettered by the shackles of our limits.

 

The passion that wasn’t precipitates the air,

Permeating from suitcases containing files read without enthusiasm,

Lunchboxes with food, eaten sans relish

And the faux brands on the backs of the faceless

Sea of human effort and ability wasted.

 

In the marked but invisible lanes on the road

Where rivers might well flow,

Emotionless faces hold their trembling contraptions,

Besotted by the desire of a better tomorrow

But torn by the reality of today.

Highs and lows of feeling flattened

By the bland plateaus that stand in their way—

Duty, responsibility, inability

And that cow that just decided to cross the road.

 

The wave of hors and other sounds no longer register

Against the inner ears of one who is dead

At every level but the physical.

The voices without a face appear every five years,

Serenading the votes of the masses with promises

Then straining at affectation

As the lowest common denominators live the life they must,

Embracing an obligation than a dream for tomorrow.

 

When will the country awaken

And demand its birthright:

The dream and be able to live it,

Relaxing their stoic nature, vaporizing the walls of compulsion that divided people.

Allow each drop in the sea of facelessness

To be a face, their own face,

Not bleat with all the flock.

 

As the filter burns, my cup drains,

The sky is plunged in a mellow darkness,

One too tired and static,

Almost daguerreotypes of stars on a black steel plate.

Those that left early are returning

In cars or on foot or packed in steel tubes

Like dead bodies, compiled.

 

As I cross in the footsteps of the cow,

My nose wrinkled at the dusky scent of hopeless indignation

Reduced to helpless acceptance.

Or maybe just turmeric cooking somewhere,

After all, winter is almost here.

 

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