City Lights by Rick Mobbs
City Lights by Rick Mobbs; original available on his blog, “Mine Enemy Grows Older”

This was written in response to Rick Mobbs’ painting, “City Lights”, pictured above. While not a prompt poem, this is ekphrastic in nature. Enjoy.


the stars at night twinkle
hot blue-white points of light against a
big black indigo nothing
but something is here
the city

she sleeps, yet wide awake
blooming nightmares all around
and dreams profound, some without sound
yet some in full technicolor noise

trumpets on a hot jazz griddle
the riddles of love and seduction
composed by couples in shadows
who whisper sweet and wicked nothings into each other’s ears
and those nothings becoming somethings
cocks and cunts dancing after
hours in private apartment juke joints

neon buzzing a few blocks away
while concrete trees stab the black above
these blocks rise from the ground, built up
by the hands of grown up children
you see, Johnny played with his concrete block set
and he built a city
built an empire
where people swarm

the hum of that bee-hive swarm
of people dancing, drinking, oohing and ahhing
trading coins, trading paper
shouting, screaming, fucking
blowing music, saintly and sweet or raucous and replete
with expletives many care to delete
into the air
and into each other’s ears

the music of rain on asphalt
turning streets into black patent leather snakes
hissing beneath these Western skies
while hot white points of light dance
above streets
above girded iron
above bridges over untroubled waters
and these waters become black mirrors
joining the snakes in a reflection chorus
of endless Hallelujahs

the silence of trees
reaching up, grabbing the black sky into their arms
shining bare bark faces in headlights, in street lights
crickets and owls as a backup chorus for
outskirt desert silence
spoiled only by the punctuation of cars
growling down empty streets

but go beyond the tree borders
move past this silence
and listen
the ghosts of pueblos are here
standing against the sky in dark square shadows
this is the land they once claimed
they still stand sturdy, carrying
ladders in their mouths and on their breasts
Hopi chants rise with smoke, levitate over flat rooftops
where prayers and answers land, pause, then rise up
to Heaven

behind the city these ghosts stand in half-tones
bare to our not-naked and jaded ears
if you bother to listen, you can hear them
pause, breath silence, shut eyes
hear these ghosts

to these ghosts and
the modern desert city, our imitation pueblos
one sleeps gently, perchance to dream
the other parties in a full-tilt boogie to seize
what’s left of this whore, the night
they consume with fires of lust and desperation
or wildness and adventure
hunger against hunger

keep listening
until the sunrise
rise up to meet the morning
climb to the flat tops of the cliffs to your east
these platforms erected before you cried outside
your mother’s womb
consecrated to greet God
your gentle footsteps scrape, crunch, crackle

now breathe
and hear the silence of your awe and wonder
this day will be christened when the sun touches its face
what will you call it?
the choice is yours

now speak
and hear the sound
of the music in your voice
and realize, as you name this day
that you are

Written 12/9/08
© 2008 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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6 Responses to Awake

  1. soumyaagarwal says:

    awesome.. very well written… i must say…. I M UR FAN

  2. A~Lotus says:

    “now breathe
    and hear the silence of your awe and wonder
    this day will be christened when the sun touches its face
    what will you call it?
    the choice is yours”

    This is my favorite stanza, although it’s hard to choose because I have so many favorite lines in this poem! I am definitely awake just reading this! Very well written and very rich. Thank you for sharing!

    I also kindly thank you for reading my poem “A Faerie’s Abode”. And now I am returning the favor by also reading your work. 🙂


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  5. Sara says:

    I enjoyed this part the most:

    the music of rain on asphalt
    turning streets into black patent leather snakes
    hissing beneath these Western skies

  6. rick mobbs says:

    Nicole, I saw that people visiting from your blog and clicking back was brought to this page. I can’t believe that I never saw this before. It is amazing. I have been too busy with outside work and family to pay much attention to art and writing, and have had no time for blogging. I so much want to get back to it. Your poem is very inspiring to me. I know all that you see is in the picture but I have not taken the time to find it and to spell it out. It is work like yours that pushes me to get back to work. You have takes this image and treated it so very well, and so fearlessly. Thank you for collaborating with me. Let’s do it again sometime soon.


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