I’ve found that all the things you need can be found inside a city.
I’m not talking about things you really need like food and shelter, healthcare insurance and mortgages with reasonable interest rates. No poet wants to talk about that. There’s a whole downtown library full of things we’d rather talk about other than real life. It even has a nice little cafe full of antique objects that don’t work, and it serves fifty different kinds of coffee. It doesn’t even have an espresso machine.
That’s the modern cityscape for you. The old ways have been vanquished, replaced by the new and the better, the aesthetic of a world always on the look for something even newer and better. Despite all of this, I still believe everything you need can be found inside a city.
I’d like to think of myself as different kind of poet, which in itself is the very essence of being one. With that said, just like all the others, I’m not going to talk about the stuff you really need, like gasoline and a nearby day-care. That stuff bores me. I’m going to talk about the things we pretend to be important because that’s what fascinates me, what drives us, because otherwise it’s all a great big dull.
Like Frank O’Hara suggested, if you find yourself yearning for greenery and the natural world you may be suffering from a severe case of regretting life. You cling to nostalgia because there’s nothing left in your life but the memories of a decent time. If you accept its judgment, you’ll find that the city is brutally honest. It’s brutal too. Yet it is everything. It doesn’t let you hide behind trees and in prairies, and so you’re left with your old shitty self. There’s only concrete, asphalt and bright lights all around, thousands of people who’d rather you get hit by a taxi than stand next to you in the subway. If that doesn’t tell you who you are, then nothing will. Or maybe you don’t exist and are just a tree.
If you’ve seen a romantic movie where people just happen upon each other and fall in love at first sight, and in the same night are making love and the next day getting married, then the city is just the place for you. There’s a prostitute around every corner who’ll give you the standard love-at-first-sight experience, with front row seats. Instead, if the possibility of love is what you seek, then the city isn’t such a bad place. You’ll fail miserably most of the time and the odds are stacked against you. More than half the marriages end in divorce, and most people are assholes. Sometimes, though, you’ll get a glimpse of something real, something hauntingly true, and that to me doesn’t sound like such a bad deal. You won’t get it anywhere else.
If you are a dreamer, then every metropolis is your capital. Each skyscraper is a dream come true. Each restaurant, museum, piece of crap modern art and actual art, each person walking beside you holds a dream. If you take refuge in a forest or in a lake, you won’t get that. Plants don’t dream.
If you’re like the poet and find yourself more than the sum of your atoms, then the city is your universe. Within you lie a thousand unfelt sensations, many of which don’t even have definitions, not even a word in the German language.
Take a walk around. Journey the empty streets, venture the artificial daylight of night, learn the millions of every-day stories that take place everywhere.
I’ve found that all the things you need can be found inside a city, just take a walk around.