Our Words: Cincinnati, April 2017

In honor of poetry month, poets throughout the Cincinnati area offered me lines on the subject of poetry in our city to craft this poem—not mine, but ours.

Our Words

Cincinnati, April 2017

I.
This blue city
is on fire
with words
marching across the page.
In rooms quiet as sanctuaries, our words
like light through stained glass
blend disparate notes in poetic symphony.
River crossings connect us,
bridging the arteries of our lives.
Most folks stay pretty busy
breathing, eating, looping ends
onto themselves or trying,
writing the poem entitled
survival.
If all art is political,
we’ve been given a lot to work with.
Hone your craft; spark
a question in someone’s silo.
Perhaps, there is a destiny for words.

II.
A fair city’s pendulum swings
away from
Porkopolis
back to
Paris.
We, planted in Cincinnati’s glacial till,
have roots and rhythms deep in red-brown
mountain soil, all made plain
by the writers and readers and songsters in our midst,
the ever-rivering lines of the Ohio
carrying a river of words, voices
plush with silt.

III.
You can’t understand the world
without telling a story.
At the corner
of Memory and Silence
a rogue cat in the heat of the word,
prowling for rhythm and rhyme,
open mouthed and echoing
through the dusting brick,
sings
and bodies sway to her speech.
After seven too-early moon rains
seven robin men
stand in jagged, fabricated rows,
digging for ancient worms
in a public park
while three dove women fly
crooked and broken wings into a sun
of their own making to protect
our young who are unveiling their voiceless
voices through rhythm and rhyme,
their stew of stories and poems a blessing,
my belly growling, aching for that food.

IV.
Words flourish here,
roll along like the Ohio River,
sometimes clear as glass or murky as churned mud.
They grow under glass, these hot house voices,
spring ephemerals, trilliums which emerge
each April, seemingly delicate,
little crocuses peeking from under the snow,
these words that change the world.

Composed by Cincinnati Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel with words by Ellen Austin-Li, John Cruze, Mark Flanigan, Terry Focht, Sean M. Foster, Karen George, Richard Hague, Pauletta Hansel, Annie Hinkle, Pam Hirte, Desirae Hosley, Karen Jaquish, Kamal Kimball, Theresa Kulbaga, Elese Monet, Rhonda Pettit, Lynn Robbins, Roberta Schultz, Sherry Cook Stanforth, Chuck Stringer, Thomas A. Trevor and Dick Westheimer.

On Wednesday, April 5, Pauletta read “Our Words” to Cincinnati City Council and its guests when April 2017 was proclaimed Poetry Month in Cincinnati.

Listen to an on-air reading on  WVXU’s Around Cincinnati.

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