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Place Names

From Bethel
To Golgotha
The house of God
To the place of the skull
Place names
Have defined us
Even as we have defined them

The difference is gargantuan
Between seeing a headline
In the Washington Post

And walking the streets
Hiding from police or parents
First cigarettes and kisses
At Forest Diner

And then high school
And math tests and sporting events
And cars and beers
At Hell House

And then marriages
And mortgages
In Mt. Hebron
Or Turf Valley

Ellicott City
A town since 1772
Named after the Ellicott brothers
And known for its mills —

Saw mills, oil mills, grain mills --
The Patapsco River
And its tributaries
And the B and O Railroad

Known then for it’s suburban sprawl
And shopping centers
Enchanted Forest theme park
And Koreatown

Considered one of the top 20 places
To live in the US
One of the wealthiest
And smartest

All this washed away
When the floods of 2016 and 2018 hit
(Actually 16 floods in 200 years!)

What for one is home
To another is a curiosity
An abnormality

The name Ellicott City
Will be known to some
As the house of rain
As the place of the flood

All these place names
With all this history

The name of an old theater
A road we grew up on
A city that has been so much more
Than its unfortunate
Natural disasters

Review Request (Intensity): 
I appreciate moderate constructive criticism
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
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: 
I grew up in Ellicott City near Historic Ellicott City, the town that has been in the news for flooding in the last two years. I think it's interesting how a place name means one thing to one person and something completely different to someone else. This is my tribute to the town and investigation of that topic. Hope you like!
Editing stage: 


As the flooding images were so dramatic and made the national news for 2 days.

There are 2 poems here, I would break them up. The first about the passing of time, of a life, in the city- growing up and all the rest (I am distracted by hiding from the police, parents are enough if just smoking and kissing in the park). I do not find the typical hangouts in every town that interesting

The second poem (II) start with Ellicott City . This to me was the far more interesting as it created a town in my mind, a real place. Looking at the pictures of the main street it had the antique look of a well preserved historic town- tell us about them- the candy store, the hardware store, as well as the facts of the flood event. And the people, the feel of the place.
To close the poem, it needs something from you that connects this town to your soul, and your neighbors. How are you going to go forward- I need to hear the shout "rebuild!" perhaps use the old theater as a metaphor.
My take,

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

thanks mark. it was a sad turn of events, and i hope they can rebuild. a lot of people have their doubts. the historic part has so much charm and a million memories for people who have been their before. i agree, it could be more descriptive of that part of town. perhaps that will come out as another poem, some time. thanks!

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