City Lights

A mile away the city lights –

The ancient, banking city, lit

With red and white and sure to fit

All today’s money – those clear sights


Which stand on towers stood to the South

One half the distance to my school,

They blink and glimmer like the pool

Reflecting stars from night’s broad mouth.


From here I see them every dusk

And every morning, if I rise,

They shine beneath plane-brightened sies,

They flood the morning like rich musk,


A smell of money?  Or of time?

Perhaps of youth?  But none I know,

The choices I took long ago

Forewent this wealth, undid this crime


To eat while others starved and cried,

I chose to eat the children’s bread

And rest upon a narrow bed

That barely rests me on my side.


But then it was no choice for me –

There never was an enchantment

About the interests money lent

So how can I claim virtue’s fee?


Our hearts each lead us where our minds

Can tell us that our calling dwells

And all the lies that rumour tells

Are as the rusted swords time finds.


As years pass, they seem less and less,

All worn by soil, by water, salt,

And distant tongues grow hard and halt

While living words grow and possess.