Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Daily Prompt: City Lullaby

People need cities. Each of our cities develops a unique character based on geography and history. Why not personify a city in a poem to honor it? 
When I lived in Bakersfield, I was struck by how exploited by humans the land has been. On Baker's field settlers grazed livestock before pushing over the mountains to the coast; farmers diverted the Kern River for agriculture; oilmen planted derricks. Appreciative of her resilience, I wrote a lullaby for the city. 


Before sun's up, standing on the porch with coffee and silence I want to last.
The carrier's come and gone. The newspaper lies on the lawn.

This is the interlude between late night stragglers and neighbors off to work.
This is the time of clarity; it comes to me like water.
Was there a time when day broke like an orchestra's first note,
Like a brush stroke on blank canvas?

This beleaguered city sleeps for brief moments only, ragged as an insomniac
Holding on to wispy dreams of riches and good times.
Phlegmatic and gray,
She needs rest.

Sleep Bakersfield, ringed by mountains -
Sleep Bakersfield, let the Kern run her way -
Sleep Bakersfield, leave the soil turn dark -
Sleep Bakersfield, sigh now deep,
Tired city, sleep now sleep.

first published in We Have Trees (Swim, 2005) and Mytho-Poetic Visions

Daily Prompt: Write a lullaby for a city. Imagine what she or he would want to hear. Start with where you are, in the moment, describe the characteristics of the place, conclude with a gentle lulling, using repetition.

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