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The Blight of the City at Night

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I wrote this when I was sitting on a bench outside my Sophomore dorm.


The blight of the city
at night.
Tail lights move away under
the gurgle of a single

The whining of fan blades on top of
buildings pervade the gentle
whisper of trees and the
common country chirp of a

Delivery vans rumble in low gear.
The only metal sounds
are from their closing doors.
Cars sprint through cross streets,
jumping lights that mean little at
5:30 am.
A dead city -- or sleeping?

Street lights orchestrate scurrying rats.
A lone beggar hobbles to his bench,
Sack in hand.
As the hazy sky lightens
a man in blue lumbers his beat,
hand casually slung to his side --
as though dragging a corpse.
Harsh street lights furnish his

Small white carts hum by,
cleaning and buffing a ground-in
grime on and from the street.
A little yellow flashing light revolves
on its back, flickering as it billiards
from one corner to the next.

The newspaper man
struggles at bound stacks of paper,
delivering to the asleep.
His mat-blue Olds is dented and old --
brown paper hangs from the open


A cool clean wind sends clattering cups
to their graveyard. A taxi prowls,
its white lights hallowing an old Detroit frame
(similar to the Olds).
It lurks then sprints, its halo burning,
on to another run to National.

There are no insects in this
wind-cleansed city.
Rustling leaves take the lead
in a choir that, in day, celebrates
the man-made.

The tassel of old fliers on posts
flutter, advertising last weeks
Song and Dance.


The mating call of the muscle car is
Heard from many streets away; its valves
and pistons churning noisy farts into the
city's echo chamber.

A girl, all lace and lycra, with hair up and
legs bare, shuttles past,
all used and put together (at 6:10 am).
Keys clenched in her fist, her bag
set on stun, she looks ahead, running
the previous day's self-defense class
through her furrowed brow.

Immediately after she passes, the day
comes in a torrent of humming modern
motorcars; the drip drip of melting
frost from the windscreen is the thawing
of night into day.

©1989 chris abraham

Apr 05, 1989 01:10 PM