General Question

lifeflame's avatar

Any know of good city poems?

Asked by lifeflame (5912points) December 3rd, 2007

I’m currently working on a theatre piece about the city called Concrete Jungle Berzerk! (“Greek tragic chorus meets modern metropolis”) and I’m looking for inspiring poetry on the city / nasty sterile office environments / environmental poems.

In addition to your favourite poems, well-written prose on the city would be great too.

Many thanks…

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9 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

The most obvious to me and perhaps too clich├ęd, is:

—-Carl Sandburg

HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders: etc

And dozens of poems about NYC:


gailcalled's avatar

Check out also the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for SF and NYC.

kevbo's avatar

From and by Juliet Torrez


as i drive down albuquerque streets
edges of houses pop out of grey sky
undisguised by barren trees
twenty three shades of brown
stucco painted to look like adobe
we’re driving past, past the porches
where strings of red chile
hang there in welcome
how now brown town?
and its good to be here
though when i’m gone
i don’t miss you much
i even dogged you, albuquerque
because you are
a hard hearted town
dressed in fake mud
being something you’re not
personality split by two sides of the city
uptown and downtown, the heights and the valley
split by businessmen
to develop their property
you never had a good image of yourself,
you don’t love yourself the way
san francisco loves itself
the way seattle loves itself
the way santa fe loves itself
and i wonder what crime
stained these hills
that made you such a hard hearted town
dressed in brown
ribboned in interstate asphalt
and a poisoned river
i’m fascinated by your sinister side,
and pray you don’t claim me
as a blood sacrifice
but when i come back
i see the way the sunset hits the sandias
and remember what it was
that i miss about this town
i see the morning light bright blue
the smell of cedar burning in the air
and remember what i miss
about this town
and when i go to the frontier restaurant
and ask for a green chile burger
they know exactly what it is
and they give it to me
and i remember what i miss
about this town
i love you i hate you
i’ll always come back to you
the land of entrapment
a curse or a blessing
i don’t know the answer, albuquerque
i just keep returning

occ's avatar

here’s one of my favorite stanzas by Garcia Lorca:

New York of slime
New York of wires and death
What angel do you carry hidden in your cheek?

There are also some great poems by Walt Whitman…flip through Song of Myself and see what catches your eye.

occ's avatar

Also, Frank O’Hara might be good…read his “a true account of talking to the sun at Fire Island”

lifeflame's avatar

thanks guys. special kudos for those who are posting the actual poem so I don’t even have to hunt them up!
a lot of NYC ones, huh.
I’m thinking Hong Kong here… but I guess any metropolis ones are helpful.

millie's avatar

frank o hara is definitely the way to go

joli's avatar

Spit in your shoe and send it to Kalamazoo! (Carl Sandburg)

kos's avatar

The Taxi By Amy Lowell

When I go away from you
The world beats dead,
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.

Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?

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