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Pagan Optimism...or...A Smile In The Midst of Old Destruction

On the broken street,
where even passing cars cannot
erase the growing weeds
slowly widening asphalt cracks
before the gap-toothed leer
of empty storefronts
everything is grey,
thick dust of old abandonment
hanging acrid in the air,
rusted sewer drains
choked with hardened mud
split like gaping idiot grins

where buildings are now ruins,
floors and ceilings sag
as children's toys rot slowly into
dull opaque paste of remnant lives;
no old laughter's left behind
to haunt dead bitter places
people once called home,
and wastes once manicured
as gardens and neat lawns
now collect old garbage blown
by cold thin winds from other places,
dreary cobwebs snaring
plastic bottle insects
and styrofoam shells of
old fast food containers,
dead skins sloughed from
unrelenting profit.

Between derelicts
lies a narrow defile
shadowed by aging brick
and rotting clapboard,
a mouth of broken boards
and shuttered windows,
a gullet dark with age
and tired filth,
filled with
acid smell of piss and
moldering lives that rots
before dead stacks of
steelworks abandoned,
rising up behind
the devastation.

Through thick dank heat
and hanging dust of death
gloom shuts out
all thoughts of living,
ideas of life crushed down
by slow trudge through
long narrowing way,
where closing walls
loom overhead,
brushing arms and shoulders
with death's detrious:
rotten wood and moldy brick dust,
dried weeds and dead insects,
all become a tunnel
sheathed with hopelessness,
smothered with despair.

Yet even here there is an end,
an exit from the devastation,
a gleam of narrow pale sunshine
widening with nearness
until despair is left behind,
forgotten in a blaze
of blinding sunlight
banishing all dark.

The space beyond is wide,
freshened by a cool breeze
blowing gentle from
the unseen inland sea.

The sun is warm, the sky
inverted ocean,
and steel mills
lined up upon each side are sleeping,
blood-red with rusted iron,
their metal walls torn open
by time and dereliction,
revealing guts of ancient piping,
coal hoppers and old furnaces
forgotten and now cold.

An ancient dock runs down the center
half-filled by wind-blown sand,
black water still as mirror
where squat ships
once brought coal and iron
now sipped by swooping martins
nesting in abandoned buildings,
dark water rippling now,
swathed with water lilies,
white jewels on the black,
wide pads that match
the emerald of ivy
and virginia creeper
climbing broken walls
on either side
to wreath worn dry-blood lips
of gaping dark interiors
with life so deep and green
it hurts the heart,

and gravel road is covered now
with lupines spired tall
against the rise of coneflowers
and brown susans on both sides,
waves of yellow, blue and bright purple
through stands of prarie grass
rippling in cool breeze,
dotted with bright pink of wild roses
and golden sand becoming dunes
blown in new by winter storm
against the death of commerce
to overtake abandonment
and cover it with life,

where in place of death
trees rise again,
cottonwoods and willows
with roots half in the water,
ash and oak grown new
and strong from bleakness,
wild plums that stain the ground beneath
with purple bruises,

and at the very center,
in black water framed
by death of human progress
and new flower, branch and leaf
a tall bird stands with arching neck,
long bill the yellow of bright gold,
a white crane brilliant in the sunshine
oblivious to all while
hunting frogs and tiny fish,

and this is proof
beyond nightmares
of so-called progress,
that even when we break The Earth,
covering Her bleeding bones
with avarice and short-term profit
The Lady is not dead, She has not gone,
She is only timeless,
waiting patiently for moments
when long lingering destruction
gives way to unrelenting life
and quiet joy returns once more
to fill this pagan soul.

Style / type: 
Free verse
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
Been working this for quite some time.
Editing stage: 


It makes a good change to read a piece so descriptive of just the remnants of man's existence the Toki of old legend or folk lore will still be there to fish for frogs long after the scrapings of man has tuned to dust..
I wrote a piece about the Toki, A tall bird (Crane -Stork) in 2010 not sure if you read it, will PM it to you just incase.
This was a great theme, and well presented, Yours Ian.T

There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

Thank you. I missed your poem, so thank you for it also. I must say its very, very good, and has led me to new myths, a thing I thought not which is silly, isn't it? There is always one more myth to experience.
The place that I describe is real. I go there when things become too much, which has been happening more frequently as time goes on. I found it one night by accident, as I wandered through the town, and it has held my love ever since, although now there's talk of redevelopment, so I suppose it will sink back into another round of stupid "progress" before the focus of the mighty dollar moves from it again.
I guess its an endless cycle, in the end.

Thanks again Ian, glad you enjoyed this.

Respectfully, Race

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

author comment

I got so engrossed reading it took a bit to realize how long it is, I thoroughly enjoyed the read I cant pick favourite stanza's or lines I loved it all I hope you get more comments on this its an amazing poem, brilliant !

So glad to see you back its a pleasure to read your poetry again hope life is treating you well

love and hugs JC xxx

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” — W.B. Yeats

Yeah, isn't it a long poem? I've been working on it for awhile, here and there while I was away, and it just kept getting bigger.

Thanks Jayne, for your enjoyment.

Respectfully, Race

"Laws and Rules don't kill freedom: narrow-minded intolerance does" - Race-9togo

author comment
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