The latest of the poetry games. My assignment was to write a seven-stanza poem in rhyme royal.
I drove by the refineries today.
The torches flickered in the summer night,
And I in my suburban looked away,
From all the cars and trucks and freeway lights
To see the torches flick’ring on their heights.
Such torches can remind me of the sun,
or of olympic torches. Either one.
The highway is alive at ten o’clock
With people driving home from who knows where.
They’re driving home just so that they can chalk
Another day, another easychair.
Another shirt or shoe or skirt to wear.
Another glass of milk, another kiss,
Another glaring irony to miss.
In daytime, the refineries seem dull,
Their imperfections highlighted by day.
But in the night, they easily enthrall
The dirty outsides showing rank decay
Are minimized by dark, and slip away.
And all remaining are the points of light
Which mark refineries’ places at night.
These points of light are little summer stars
That hover near the ground to see the rush
Of people zooming quickly by in cars
Too busy to appreciate the hush
Of gray-on-black and silver’s gentle blush,
Of silent martyrs burning at the stake,
Petroluem and gasoline to make.
It seems a tiny city, I observe,
With skyscrapers and highways through downtown.
I whistle with a joy that I reserve
For solitude. It is a joy I frown
Through business meetings with their suits of brown.
But here, alone, at ten o’clock at night,
I’m free to whistle at the twinkling light.
I know that the refineries pollute,
And bill’wing clouds of smoke rise from the stacks.
It is a charge that I cannot refute,
Except to tell the viewer to relax
Enjoy the landscape that routinely packs
A city in a semi-acre space,
And gives off fumes of filthiness and grace.
The fumes, I hear, are horrible to smell.
The smoke can cover complexes in soot.
And yet it is a knowledge I bear well,
Full knowing I will never cross on foot
The spaces that in air filthiness put.
I’m happy to remain inside my car
Admiring danger, beauty from afar.