My first Residency at Wilkes University in January 2009, was pretty intense. Classes all day and homework assignments every night, to be turned in the next morning. One of our assignments was to walk around the town of Wilkes-Barre, consider the blight and beauty of the town, then write about it. The genre that would express our vision – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama or screenplay – was assigned based on small groups – 4 or 5 students to a group. For this exercise, my group had to write a poem. This is the poem I composed while walking the beautiful and blighted streets of Wilkes-Barre.
In my travels
I walk the streets
of a quaint old mining town
that has seen better years.
Architecture at once blighted and beautiful;
buildings formerly stately and proud
give silent witness to attention once paid;
lives once lived, now forsaken.
History lives on, rich and present;
ghosts of a time maybe long forgotten
bright colors weathered and worn.
Walking down the streets, you imagine and sense.
A six-sided star – embedded high in the window
of a house of faith existing
in the midst of the bleakness and gloom –
seems to speak of hope for redemption.
Though barren and worn, some pride remains;
though tired efforts to restore fall short,
still, deserted gables stare with hopeful eyes
peering down at us, following our passage.
Silent voices screaming in my ears,
“Wait! Come and stay with me.
Gaze out of my windowpane and
keep company with me.”
“My inhabitants are all gone away
I’ve been abandoned for far too long.
Dust coats my casements
my covers are tatters and rags.”
The pleading voices fade as we swiftly pass
more pressing matters fill our thoughts;
no time to waste
on ancient and deserted lives.