Tuesday, October 4, 2022

the beats of the city

this city is a chameleon

one day, it is silver granite with shiny buildings

one summer dusk, it is festive & noisy with tourist buses

one October night, it is artsy, soulful with balloons & stage lights

one winter night, it is pristine snow & mud, booming with silence


blue-draped by Lake Ontario

this is an entry port for immigrants, 

a nook to find one's space & voice

a stairway to higher ambitions & studies

yet this city can be a deathbed

indifferent to the calluses of one's labor

a rusty knife to those needled arms

hazy with alchohol addiction

a bitter soup to the lost & homeless prowling

the train stations for coins

for all that it is, colorful & flavorful 

a blend of many cultures & languages

a peaceful bounty to the endless flow of refugees-

it is a steady rock

to the hopefuls-

this city is filled with second & third chances-

there is redemption 

that is, if you didn't knock yourself out

in the first round

-accept the gifts of failures & learn from it-

over time

for me, this city becomes a boat 

laden with coats, blankets, music sheets, silk

& spices from all over the world-

you ride along its sails

& draw & redraw your own map

& when you are sick of the city lights,

there is a road up north, filled with apple trees

-perfect for star-gazing-

Posted for dVerse Poets Pub - Poetics:  Allen Ginsberg and The Beat Generation, Hosted by Sanaa Rizvi.  Join us when the pub doors open at 3pm EST.


  1. This is exquisitely drawn, Grace! You give voice and bring out many layered dimensions of the city which are felt by everyone. I especially resonate with; "this city becomes a boat laden with coats, blankets, music sheets, silk & spices from all over the world- you ride along its sail & draw & redraw your own map,"... sigh.. I would love to visit one day. Thank you so much for writing to the prompt! 💘💘

  2. I can tell you love your city... even if it has its dark place you really took me there with all the beauty of variations.

  3. an upbeat beat poem especially at the end there with your amazing metaphor for the city, laden with pieces from the world
    and also:
    "to the hopefuls-

    this city is filled with second & third chances-

    there is redemption "

  4. The beats of this chameleon city make a strong impression, Grace! I could picture the shiny buildings and the noisy tourist buses, the October night, ‘artsy, soulful with balloons & stage lights’, and the pristine snow. I especially love the phrase ‘blue-draped by Lake Ontario’ and the idea of the city becoming a boat and riding its sails.

  5. How strange, Grace, we wrote very similar poems with very similar endings. I like the rhythm of yours, and the to and fro with negative and positive.

  6. The last time I was in Toronto, i was distressed to see so many homeless, and so many YOUNG homeless. I wondered how they ever survive.

    1. They actually have shelters & food banks to go to, & other resources which are open during winters. But some are addicted to drugs & the bottle sadly. You cannot save those who don't want to help themselves. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  7. I really like how you used your metaphor of the chameleon. It really worked: the city ever changing its colors and patterns.

  8. entry port to death bed. i love the honesty of this piece, Grace, and the reassuring final line.

  9. your final line touched me. you show us the duplicity of every city on the planet with this poem.

  10. I love how you brought the city to life. I read it as a metaphor for living itself. Beautiful and rich.

  11. Great write, Grace ... captured by the magic of the last stanza.

  12. The contrast between bright lights of city life and its dark underside is startling...reminiscent of city i grew up in!

  13. Such an honest yet loving look at your city, Grace. It sure is the entry point for many Indians. I loved your final stanza...star gazing definitely softens the edges of despair and drudgery.

  14. The sick & the mad find places to congregate -- in old Ireland there was the glade called Ben Bolcain where the mad gathered every year (delicious watercress, it was said) -- most cities have those avenues (in Chicago, I once got of the bus in the wrong neighborhood and it was block after block of abandoned buildings filled with drunks). The beats gloried in those places as haunts of freedom, but it's not the drug of choice for most poets any more. Sad places the could be greatly healed by open country spaces ...

  15. In any city, there are sights that reveal the underbelly that many choose to ignore, until they encroach on favorite or cherished area, as though the encroachment should exist anywhere. We cannot turn a blind eye to any of it.


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