This city sings on –
when hymns fade cicadas screech from shadowed nooks
flames crackle in attic corners and trains grumble from exalted tracks
– disparate tunes convene the choir,
through crunch of roof beams, fires hum and sparks jolt from electric rails
reach crescendo at the vaulted ridge as an El ferries bodies to the skyline’s heart
to call the attention of some higher ear.
unfurl the smoke that swallows street as elsewhere crews stake fresh steel into earth
congregations pull open their windows to set sights on sites of promise.
The chorus draws notes from deep in its guts
fire skins the house Thomas Dorsey built cicadas shed antique bodies
while flames sing his singed sheet music before abandoning a hallowed shell.
Every time this city burns,
it rises a bit more muted.