Dr. H asked for a suburban poem for poetrymonth
So in class yesterday, I put my students in groups and asked each group to choose a poem in our anthology that they thought made some kind of comment about suburban life. (At this point in the semester, my class is all about meeting my blogging needs.) The following poem has always seemed like a city poem to me, but my students argued that the emphasis on cars and roads illustrates the poor design of suburbia: communities are designed for automobiles instead of humans, discouraging community and encouraging our reliance on fossil fuels. In other poems they talked about the prevailing values of suburbia, which include this need to tame and prune anything wild, keeping everything under control, leading to such monocultures as the American lawn, sprayed with toxins. They talked about the media's role in perpetuating an American dream that has nothing to do with sustainable living, and the role of consumerism in creating a need for large, detached single-family dwellings. When it comes right down to it, architect and science students have nothing good to say about suburban life.
The streets we live by fall away.
Even the asphalt is tired
of this going and coming to work,
the chatter in cars,
and passengers crying on bad days.
Trucks with frail drivers
carry dangerous loads. Have care,
these holes are not just holes
but a million years of history
opening up, all our beautiful failures
and gains. The earth is breathing
through the streets.
The lamps of earth switch on.
The potholes are full
of light and stars, the moon's many faces.
Mice drink there in the streets.
The skunks of night drift by.
They swallow the moon.
When morning comes,
workers pass this way again,
cars with lovely merchandise. Drivers,
take care, a hundred suns look out of earth
beneath circling tires.