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City Skin

Jack Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan - Premium MemberPremium Member Send Soup Mail Go to Poets Blog Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled City Skin which was written by poet Jack Jordan. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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City Skin

    City Skin

    A city can be so close, 
    that it leaches into one’s soul,
    becomes a second skin. 
    So said the country-drawled guest 
    on Sunday afternoon talk radio. 
    Tulsa was his skin; 
    he wore it proudly, 
    bragged about it, 
    hoped to die there and stay for eternity 
    (an eternal Tulsa...something to contemplate.).
    I’ve known many people over the years 
    who have taken in 
    the soul and guts of a place. 
    (New York City and Austin 
    apparently make for good skin.). 
    Not so for me. 
    I don’t have that skin. 
    I’ve never taken on the soul of a place, 
    not even the Dallas of my childhood 
    or the city in Oklahoma where I’ve lived  
    for more than two decades, 
    a third of my life.

    I’ve given this a lot of thought 
    since the Tulsa man: 
    I’ve come to the conclusion 
    that the missing component, 
    the reason I don’t have a home, 
    is unhappiness,
    often of my own making. 
    Grief, conflict, and anger 
    have often been the driving forces 
    behind and under and around 
    my leaving this place for that one. 
    Moving is my modus operandi. 
    Leaving is never a problem; 
    it’s relief, a voluntary homelessness. 
    The space between here and there 
    with everything I own stashed in my car 
    is high freedom, 
    the leaving of one life, 
    rolling toward another, 
    time and air and the radio between. 

    Okay, I’ll come clean... 
    I do have an internalized city 
    where I may have once had skin. 
    I found it in 1983 in Kyoto,
    while sitting on the steps 
    of the viewing veranda at Ryoan-ji, 
    the “Temple of the Dragon at Peace," 
    contemplating the 15th century garden’s fifteen stones, 
    but only being able to see fourteen 
    because I hadn’t yet achieved enlightenment,
    wandering through the dappled-light bamboo grove 
    surrounding the centuries-old monastery cemetery. 
    I knew I’d been there before, 
    a monk, 
    my ashes buried beneath one of the stones, 
    cradled by bamboo roots. 

    I almost believe in reincarnation, 
    the living of another life 
    behind the one I currently inhabit. 
    As I understand it, 
    my now-life is based on my then-life. 
    I hope I lived well and kind in those lives. 
    I must have done something right; 
    I didn’t return as a dung beetle 
    rolling around Oklahoma City.

Copyright © Jack Jordan

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  1. Date: 6/11/2013 1:20:00 PM
    You excelled in this Jack, very cool! I've lived in the same house for thirteen years now. It's not because I'm in love with it, my family just sorta has a hoarding problem and so it's a royal pain to move. But my parents want to someday get an RV and go explore the rest of the world... I think it would do them good to "unclutter" their life, having only the necessities for living... this style of poetry fits you like a glove... I enjoy the heck out of it!

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 6/11/2013 1:55:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    There is the lure of the road, but there's so much to leave behind. My usual attitude about travel is that I want to be "there," but I also want to be home. Major personal conflicts result (procrastination, self-incrimination, etc.).
  1. Date: 6/11/2013 7:54:00 AM
    Unbelievably good! I really connected with your words. There is something about moving that gives a new hope, the discarding og the sadness. This is a powerful piece and I am glad I stopped by to read it. I have now been in one place for 15 years and I must say there is a certain comfort in that.

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 6/11/2013 9:40:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thanks for reading, Richard, and for the very nice review... Jack
  1. Date: 6/10/2013 7:12:00 PM
    A tapestry of perfection verse after verse. The metaphor of the skin exceptional.The kind of poem that leads me to ponder my own life and choices. The reality and realization of the journey with all of the ups and downs. You have a magnificent gift for writing real life experience. Hope all is well in Oklahoma :)

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 6/10/2013 7:15:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thanks again, Karen. All is well here, sunny and hot and no tornadoes... Jack
  1. Date: 6/10/2013 5:23:00 PM
    i like this poem very much and think you raise some interesting points. i definitely have a new york city skin (and i know exactly what you mean!) but i was very taken with your own "lack of skin" and i LOVE the line "time and air and the radio between." the ending made me smile, too!

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 6/10/2013 6:02:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thanks for the nice comments, Ilene. I'd never thought about adsorbing a place until I heard that interview on NPR.