Love Thee
— a poem by Jack Kelly


What sounds make your name? 
What clay 
          can sculpt 
          your eyes?


Do I hear the sounds 
        of cars passing by? 
Do I feel 
        the vibrations 
        of concrete 
        and air? 

The city before me 
        is wide 
        and near and dark. 

The lights rise 
       from the ground 
       as greens and 
       reds and 
            whites – 

The busy traffic 
             of millions wafts 
in the summer’s airs, within 
             the warm night’s 

I can feel 
the energy, 
                    the pulse 
                    of the people,
                              beating – 


All the black morn and blue sound 
      wakes the people. 
The people rise to 
      confront their work. 

The financier wakes 
with the plumber; the restaurateur 
     rises with the carpenter; 
     the taxis roll with the subways; 
the men eye 

     the women; the women eye 
     the children; the policemen and 
     guard the city; 
the batons and pistols
     guard the city 
     from the same. 

The plots and angers of 
this city fade away 
in the majesty of 
this city; the refuse of 

this city piles – is lifted away, 
            is piled 
            again –


This is the song 
of the city, the sound 
           of men working and 
            women readying in 
the early hours, breathing in 

the cool morning airs – preparing
         for the heat of the day, preparing
              for the wonder of days 
                   to come –


What histories lie with the cities? 
What voices and ghosts 
         can be heard speaking, issuing
               commands and 

What do the old bedrocks bequeath?
What sands and 
             sounds still rustle upon
             these forested shores?

Mannahatta – 
deep port, lovely land 
of greens and 
             deer and 
             fish swimming 
      in the streams, swimming 
from the oceans and 
to the oceans. 

The Ancient Hudson sings 
      all the ways through 
           New York, glistening and
           for all the peoples – 
                singing the sounds 
                of lathing waters 
                to all the peoples –


Have you forgotten 
the sounds of the treading deer 
             and rabbit’s feet, 
             mine city? Have you lost 

your sense of nature, of growth and 
teeming life? I give you my hand, 
you dwellers, and 

             I take you to 
             the ancient paths 
of hunters and deer; toward 
the gentle-speak 
             of the trees, 
             we go – 

                       the static 
                                     of the airs –


Wars have been predicated and made
at your behest – You seat of power, 
You seat of country. 

             Yet you 
             forget yourself, 
you make yourself 
strange, foreign 
in the Image of Man. So much 

industry is made within 
the hands of these men and 
women, generation after 

generation – as a father leaves 
behind to his sons and 
the farmstead, 
the bible, 
the constitutions, 
the learning and 
know-how –


You, too, mine dearest of cities 
             shall leave 
             an imprint upon all 
             the world, a tune for all 
             the world 
      to know and remember. 

Before the seas come to swell 
      o’er your roads and towers, 
             before the seas 
   reclaim the lands they left, I will 
             love thee. 

            And again 
   Nature will make her course 
            throughout. Nature 
    will make her cause throughout
            even before mine life 
                     is done –

Jack Kelly is a writer and poet. His work is predicated on nature, spirituality, and candid autobiography. His touchstones are  Walt Whitman and Robert Frost. He lives in New York.