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by Zoe Coulter

city nights are paradoxes of quiet loudness and bright darkness
shadows at the edges of your eyes resolve into neon beings,
angels watching from the churchtops,
hallowed sirens spinning redbluewhitebright signalling to the heavens
stopping hearts with unknown fear and offering momentary lives until
the church bells toll on the hour and the sound
fills ears and breathes new life into
souls that still need resuscitating even after
all these years of hearing sins and punishments renounced
across the downtown radio & television-altar news -
prayers in dark quiet streets are made quieter by the faraway car horns as
crosswalk blasters singe the near-cool pavement through a red light -
no one asks for rain but the rooftop gardeners, yet it still patters down
sending figures scattering for empty doorways and forgotten
Superman umbrellas and lit-up gas station asphalt, anywhere dry enough
to sit and inhale the oildusted petrichor, watching the flickers of
streetlight halos in this dripping wilderness of metal plastic and cement -
petroglyphs betray the oldness of the stones, yellow black and silver
spraypaint proclaims visions seen in waking sleep: we are lonely
in the crowds (we are surrounded by breathing bodies yet see no one)
city nights are paradoxes
of unseen crowds
and unseen lights

About this Poem

Zoe Coulter has lived half her life in the city and half in the country, and this is probably due to the fact that she has too many interests to choose between. Among other things, she loves books (especially sci-fi and fantasy), music, and the outdoors. Coulter writes poetry and the occasional short story, and is currently learning how to play the guitar. She read this poem as a selected participant at the City of Kingston's Evening with Kingston's Poets Laureate at the Central Branch of KFPL on April 30, 2019.

About the Poetry Blackboard

The Poetry Blackboard showcases poems curated by Kingston's Poet Laureate and written by Kingston poets. There's a new poem every month, written by poets living and dead, historical and contemporary, published and unpublished, adults and children, giving full range to the cultural voice of Kingston. Started in 2015 by Helen Humphreys, the Poetry Blackboard will be continued as of 2019 by Jason Heroux.

News About the Poetry Blackboard

We wish to thank Helen Humphreys, Kingston's second Poet Laureate, for her generous support of emerging and established poets in Kingston through library programming and our Poetry Blackboard project. Throughout her four years as Poet Laureate, Helen curated a digital collection of poetry to showcase the talents of local creators of all ages, both historic and contemporary. Helen also offered several opportunities for emerging poets to develop their craft, offering group workshops and one-on-one mentorship. Her active engagement with the library and community has been greatly appreciated.

We welcome our incoming Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux, and look forward to working together to continue the Poetry Blackboard and develop new community programming.

Previously Published Poems