They soar above the shove-and-suck commotion
And the sand-smashing manners of the shore
Like seagulls eyeing from on high their quotient
Of beach and flesh, all straining to see more.
Their world is built from unrepentant greed
Since nothing else survives the shifting sands.
Either the castle melts into the sea
Or dries like water dribbling through cupped hands.
We could do worse than take towers for our gods.
Their dizzying stature, their remorseless gaze,
Their rigid postures under massive loads,
Their endless hunger – these define this space.
And yet such worship comes at a high price:
The anonymity of endless stairs,
Steep interest on a mortgage and long hours
At work count out the human sacrifice.
This poem is motivated by the towering apartments that frown over many beaches, great symbols of the way property can dominate people. Actually I wouldn’t mind living in one myself, with a great view over the ocean. Life is full of self-contradictions and poetry isn’t just the work of the poet. Words generate ideas, ideas generate feelings, feelings inspire words in a self-feeding cycle that resembles a process of discovery. Not knowing how a poem ends is a great reason to begin. Some time after I finished the first four stanzas, I realized that an apartment tower, as depicted here, would make the ideal home for some Wikipedian admins. They are above the crowd. They are not really interested in the human dimension. They love anonymity. They work hard. They are on the path to self-destruction. In that case, the following verses can be added:
Here the high priest, a Wikipedia admin,
Sits on a balcony in just his jocks,
Juggling a laptop, playing verbal badmin-
ton with a smile, soft serves and sudden blocks.
At last, quite mad, the poor man stuffs his paunch’s
Girth into a tight constume like a hero,
Balances on the rail, breathes deep then launches
Into the air and hurtles to ground zero.
16 June 2014
26 August 2015