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John Gould Fletcher

(3 January 1886 – 10 May 1950 / Little Rock, Arkansas)

In the City of Night


City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of twilight,
City that projects into the west,
City whose columns rest upon the sunset, city of square, threatening
masses blocking out the light:
City of twilight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of midnight, city that the full moon overflows, city where the cats
prowl and the closed iron dust-carts go rattling through the shadows:
City of midnight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of early morning, cool fresh-sprinkled city, city whose sharp roof
peaks are splintered against the stars, city that unbars tall haggard
gates in pity,
City of midnight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of rain, city where the bleak wind batters the hard drops once and again,
sousing a shivering, cursing beggar who clings amid the stiff Apostles on the
cathedral portico;
City where the glare is dull and lowering, city where the clouds flare and flicker
as they pass upwards, where sputtering lamps stare into the muddy pools
beneath them;
City where the winds shriek up the streets and tear into the squares, city whose
cobbles quiver and whose pinnacles waver before the buzzing chatter of raindrops
in their flight;
City of midnight,
Drench me with your rain of sorrow.
City of vermilion curtains, city whose windows drip with crimson, tawdry, tinselled,
sensual city, throw me pitilessly into your crowds.
City filled with women's faces leering at the passers by,
City with doorways always open, city of silks and swishing laces, city where bands
bray dance-music all night in the plaza,
City where the overscented light hangs tepidly, stabbed with jabber of the crowd,
city where the stars stare coldly, falsely smiling through the smoke-filled air,
City of midnight,
Smite me with your despair.
City of emptiness, city of the white façades, city where one lonely dangling lantern
wavers aloft like a taper before a marble sarcophagus, frightening away the ghosts;
City where a single white-lit window in a motionless blackened house-front swallows
the hosts of darkness that stream down the street towards it;
City above whose dark tree-tangled park emerges suddenly, unlit, uncannily, a grey
ghostly tower whose base is lost in the fog, and whose summit has no end.
City of midnight,
Bury me in your silence.
City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of restlessness, city where I have tramped and wandered,
City where the herded crowds glance at me suspiciously, city where the churches are
locked, the shops unopened, the houses without hospitality,
City of restlessness,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of sleeplessness, city of cheap airless rooms, where in the gloom are heard snores
through the partition, lovers that struggle, couples that squabble, cabs that rattle,
cats that squall,
City of sleeplessness,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.
City of feverish dreams, city that is being besieged by all the demons of darkness, city of
innumerable shadowy vaults and towers, city where passion flowers desperately and
treachery ends in death the strong:
City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

Submitted: Saturday, March 29, 2014
Edited: Thursday, April 03, 2014

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