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City Map

now showing

some folks find the theater first,

lost in an unfamiliar alley

and drawn like a moth to the neon

the title on the sign is always

one you've never seen before

the woman in the ticket booth

has a face you can't quite place

the woman in the balcony

has test pattern eyes


some folks discover the market,

the shops they're passing grow

gradually stranger until

there is no way back where they came

and it becomes harder to tell

whether they're wandering a plaza

filled with stalls or a shopping mall

depending on which eye is blinking

but what matters is there is so much

here you never knew you needed


some folks come in through the library

taking a left and another left

in the stacks until the shelves

stop answering to Dewey

the books are sorted by

far more unorthodox systems

there's tea in the map room

and safe passage in the basement

if you can earn it


coming in is a simple melody

leaving is complex arrangement

requiring five part harmony

of the souls with a counter melody

the punctuating drumbeat of regret

or the wandering baseline

that comes from knowing too much

including that you're never really gone


a few leave, many fade

the rest find their places

in the symphony, pick up

instruments that look a little

familiar and learn their sounds

until they play as if

they've always known the song


"I'll set it right."

she walked away

I never saw her again

maybe she succeeded


His footsteps are silent on cobbles,

Tarred gravel, packed dirt.

He may as well be another ghost

One of thousands to walk these roads

Since their cities were misplaced

By time and imagination

Unlike them, he has a destination

Waiting for him, with walls as solid

As anything in this place. While he

Is noiseless, I walk beside him,

Stumbling into sound enough for two

Tripping over insubstantial ghosts


what passes for sun

filters through the stained glass

growing a garden of blue-tinged roses

across the church's stone floor

the altar draped in lavender

dark enough to hide the mildew

the benches long gone

to make room for the light

the worshipers lay on the floor

breathless, waiting


the city keeps changing,

overwriting some parts, moving others,

overlapping when it's convenient

people come and fade, or don't

but there's always more room

there's always more to forget


No quarter is empty.

Most arrive with a few lost inhabitants

who don't know why the city

outside their block has changed.

Even if one did, the wanderers

would trickle in shortly,

directed there by shifting alleys.

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