City Mad

You can feel a city ache
if you stand on its streets
in the middle of the night,
when all its citizens
sleep quiet in their beds.

You can feel it, a creak and a groan,
almost titanic, almost tectonic,
a body of concrete and bone,
every street light clicks automatic
through its colors like a heartbeat
and you can stand there in the stream
of it, learning to loathe yourself.

Understand you are not the only one
hating yourself into the asphalt.

You are not the only one
pulling skyscrapers down on your head.

You are not the only one
crying out to the newspaper boys
on their early morning routes,
read all about it! read all about it!
Here is a man who breaks his ribs
from the inside.
Here is a man who gnaws
on a mouthful of teeth.

Hush. Hush.

Oh, it hurts,
but the whole city hurts,
you are not alone in it,
and even if they sleep
while you wander mad-eyed
and awake through the empty streets,

You are a fine thing.
You are constructed well,
brick by brick and bone by bone,
remind yourself how tall you stand,
how many people scurry into you
to find shelter,
open every story
of you and let the breeze
wash the stale out of you.

Tell the newspaper boys
to rewrite that goddamn headline:
Here is a man
who makes it to sunrise again.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.
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