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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Secret Life of Cities"

This poem came out of the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from kyleri and eseme.  It was sponsored by kyleri.  This is another poem in which magical creatures have adapted comfortably to an urban environment.

The Secret Life of Cities

The subways of a city are the secret of its flow
That hold the busy citizens as they go to and fro.

The lines are very intricate; they link the far and near
But what is close can seem quite far -- you can't get there from here.

The focus of the subway is the swift and shining trains
But when they're gone, the dark returns to see that which remains.

The secret life of cities is the subway underground
With mystic creatures thriving where no hunters may be found.

The blind and bat-like dragons hoard lost tokens bright as gold;
The unicorns use sonar horns to navigate their hold.

When thunderstorms send waterfalls to drain beneath the rails,
The sewer-mermaids splash below with alligator tails.

The curving tubes are beautiful, organic in their shape,
A hint of how they came to be an underground landscape:

A subway station never built, but slow and surely grown,
By elves and dwarves in darkness deep, true lovers under stone.

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Current Mood: busy busy

8 comments or Leave a comment
technomage From: technomage Date: January 7th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been too busy in the last week to read much, but I came to LJ for a respite from my labors... and this post was first. So I drank at the well, deeply, and am refreshed.

In DC the former Gay Zone, now largely Yuppified and more drab for the infusion of cash and Starbuckers, is Dupont Circle. The circle is huge and has one of my favorite pieces of sculpture in the whole town in its center. And underneath, far underneath, a Metro station... but again I digress, for our story is about The Station That Was, known as Dupont Underground. The first metro station was too shallow and couldn't connect with the deep tunnel needed to cross Rock Creek Park... so when the line was extended past Dupont in the early 80s they abandoned Dupont Underground. Left it to rot.

Various commercial ventures have tried to reclaim the space as a shopping mall, a movie complex, a cluster of nightclubs. None lasted more than two years... they all failed to retake that which had gone feral. It's been well and truly sealed for over a decade. I dream of gaining entrance, breaking in, taking a look... perhaps pounding in a wooden stake or two...

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad I could help.

The Station That Was sounds fascinating, too. Thanks for sharing.
eseme From: eseme Date: January 7th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I shall say it again, but in public:

That's lovely. And it really captures the wonder that infrequent visitors to the subway (like myself) feel.

I really like the rhymes!

And thank you to kyleri!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2011 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm happy to hear that.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: January 7th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the alligator-tailed sewer mermaid image. Hee!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 9th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)


I wanted to show different iterations of well-known fantasy creatures, modified for an urban environment. I'm glad it worked.
kyleri From: kyleri Date: January 7th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
...yeah, that rocks. :)
filkferengi From: filkferengi Date: January 16th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
This kind of scans to "Horse With No Name."
8 comments or Leave a comment