Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Few Dollar Man

and now, here's the winning poem:
Best Cleveland Poem 2013

Dianne Borsenik reads
photo by Tim Misny

Few Dollar Man

my Cleveland, I don’t mind him
being a blue collar, few dollar man
don’t need him all prettified,
gentrified, riverwalked,
starched, pressed and lean
I like his urban sprawl
his sports bars,
sports cars,
Ford trucks,
Great Lakes brew
and bratwurst,
his rib fests and bare chests
he can put on a suit and tie
if the occasion calls for it
he cleans up real nice
he’s no “playhouse square”
he’s a comfortable fit

I like his long hair, level stare,
acting like he doesn’t care,
blue jeans and boots swagger,
his never-say-die attitude,
his rock and roll hammer
I dig the punk, pensive,
ponytailed poet in him

I like it when he shows his
ethnic roots
and I don’t mind his often gruff speech,
his questionable grammar
don’t mind his broken english,
city slang
or down-home twang,
his sometimes breach
of political tact
and cultural fact

we have an understanding

I don’t mind his tough sidewalks,
his callused highways,
the clumsy fumble of his
tumbledown neighborhoods
don’t mind the times his rough
streetlighting catches at my clothes
in the heavy dark
when he’s running his transit
through my hair

at least he’s reaching out for me,
wants to feel me close against him

I don’t mind the stubble
on his troubled street corners,
cold Lake Erie steaming his breath,
his bleary neon eyes,
his wasted wallpaper billboards
too many nights of revel
after long days spent
in steelwork,
car shops,
west side markets
and east side offices,
orange-barreled highway construction,
Clinic halls
and University malls
giving all he’s got,
just making a living

I trust him; I know he has my back,
I know he’s looking out for me

my Cleveland, I don’t mind him
being a blue collar, few dollar man.

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau