Monday, September 19, 2011

Austin Streets

O sing to the shrine of the street called Pine
That lost its name and found a number (fifth)

O say Amen, Amen! to the hymn of its pith;

Shout Alleluia with the chorus of remorse

For all the streets of Austin that were renamed,

And all the buildings that have been razed and erased.

And raise your voices in praise of the powers that be

That left the names of Texas waterways where they were.

You can still drive down the streets San Antonio and Neches,

Or navigate those called San Jacinto and Nueces.

Now don't get me wrong:

I would not try to brake the wheels of progress

Any more than I would try to push these rivers.

And digits are fine for the hands and feet,

But streets in a city that's been around this long

Need their stories told about the days of old

In the labels we give to the boulevards and byways.

They whisper their history if we learn to listen.

Cruise down these hilly avenues

And from the pavement over cobbles

Where horses once were hobbled

We hear the music of horns as the traffic swishes

Carrying poems of our dreams and wishes

In their wakes as roads roll like rivers of rhyme.

Stroll down the sidewalks that course under the tangle

Of branches of Live Oak and Linden, of Peach and Mesquite,

Of Mulberry and Cherry, of Cypress and Cedar.

(Their streets became feeders on to I-35)

This city that re-invents itself every decade or so

Sloughs buildings and businesses

Like snakes lose skin or people change clothes.

The next and newest is always the best.

No one wants to hear about the Russian Tea Room

With its quiet mystique, or the peace

Of a petite rose garden tucked away

Behind a biology hall on the main campus,

Now paved over for more parking spaces.

We must dig with trowel under these streets

To find the skeletal remains of the city of old,

We can make mosaics of the shards of broken glass

And chipped plates from that lost culture,

Or sprinkle the pieces in our poems.

And like words of spells and curses,

They have the power of old Magic

To heal and charm.

written May 2011, published in Preoccupied with Austin 2012

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