Thursday, April 23, 2009

National "poem in your pocket day" is April 30

National Poetry Month is in full bloom. In case you're still looking for a poem to share on "Poem in Your Pocket" day, here's one to share on April 30.

Ped Xing

The other day I was reading
words from the dog-eared philosopher
Diogenes -- in translation of course,
I'm lazy that way -- Diogenes,
the original cynic from that other Athens,
who told Alexander the Great
to stand out of his light.
He was in the right;
Alex the G. had asked what he could do,
and D. the Dog replied what few
men would dare say to the mighty:
you're in my way. Now, move!

I can relate to old D. the dog. For thirty years
I've survived Atlanta traffic
without a car. Let me restate
that I'm a pedestrian of the first rank:
no license, no car, no SUV, no tank.
I go where MARTA goes,
and where it does not I go not.
Waiting for the bus patiently, reading,
has shown me the way of the MARTA dharma,
and that a city's transportation is it's karma.

It takes a few beautiful buildings
to make a golden city. I'm okay with that,
we all need inspiration;
that's why skylines are so pretty
when the camera's pointed downtown.
But how many cars does it take
to make that city ugly --
that one? that one? that one?
How many cars do you see
in those shots of Peachtree Center at dusk? None.

If you keep building long enough
the dreams will come. But leave room enough
for the pedestrian, the visitor, the explorer on foot
who has faith in the signs: Walk. Don't walk.
Used properly, these are instructions for a lifetime.

And for civilizations sake, when you're driving,
get off the phone and pay attention.
Check the oil and watch your gas,
and keep to the right except when passing.
Use your signals when necessary.
Finally, watch out for the blessed pedestrian,
as he watches out for you;
He's walking here. Keep a civil tongue,
and both of you will see the day's work done.

(M. Bromberg, March 29, 2009)


Troy said...

Yet another evocative bit of poetic wizardry, old chum!

I long for the day when we (your gentle readers) may have free and open access to your collected works in Kindle® form. :)

Anonymous said...

Really nice poem Mark!  I’m glad you are not a Nazi pedestrian, and just a sharer of the space.