The Ballad of City Lights

HideoutI walk the darkened streets
only to meet vagrants and beggars
who I take pity on, when few
will take pity on myself.

Though ACL booms loud,
Congress, well-lit after the twilight hour,
still has its crowd;
with electricals coursing

____and bringing power
to small coffee shops, I wander
about the smell of Java and fresh cigarettes
in the air, while I wonder
why this town is so wonderful.

____And it hits me:
Because this is the domain
in which creativity isn’t squandered
but fostered in the darker rooms,
the shadowed theaters where writers loom.

As the town stands still,
as the twill of the night
descends, sending fright
to small children and flight to tourists,

The lights come on;
and darkened streets
greet me with a million lumens
as a lone sax player lays the city beat

at the feet of the people,
who at his feet lay,
and on his music prey and soak in
the Ballad of City Lights.

____On this fate-filled night
we are fate-less, in control
of our actions as we patrol
the roads with no intent
other than to be walking in no direction.

We are the muse behind the music,
we are the paint in the murals,
we are the footsteps and their rhythm
and that black alley cat, that

always escapes when you give chase,
and leaves you to face the cold
embrace of desolation in a small,
big city.

____So wander on the cross-flowing rivers,
the cross flowing, one-way numbers
that bring you ease
as you rest in the warmth of an
October night.

Soak it in and listen,
and watch these city lights,
in their radiance, glisten
as something magical happens:

The terrain becomes foreign
from that of the day,
and if you’re not familiar
with the way the roads sway

after midnight
you might find yourself lost;
crossed between twenty cultures
in this epicenter of art.

From jazz out on 12th Street,
to acoustic on the river side,
sitting beneath SRV
in his Texan Blues majesty;

or from the upbeat 6th Street
dance music blaring from
clubs to the simple one, two, three
one, two, three of a pair of bongos,

these cultures meet.
These cultures blend
into one culture, one being
from many places descending.

“Keep Austin Weird,”
“Keep Austin Reading,”
The motto changes,
but one theme holds concrete:

Is that we are leading the world
in a peaceful revolution,
a renaissance of poetry
and music,

a cultural explosion of
culinary delight, abstract art
of magnificent sight and
wild gardens of natural might.

We are a unique community.
Together, in the fact alone
that we are unique together.
So I say now, gather yourselves

one night, and meet me in the Hideout
Café, so you might greet me warmer
than a Texan summer day,
as Texans should greet each other,

and stroll with me
down a quiet, darkened street,
or sit and talk
and wait. . . .

for these darkened streets
to become the Ballad
____of City Lights.

Vaughan, eleventh grade, St. Michael’s Catholic Academy

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