Poetry: Urban Astrology

By Ruth Asch

Urban Astrology

Watching long, clouded hours,
no stars to give desire or destiny…
I gaze from storied windows
over the townscape’s Zodiac, and see…

A flickering green constellation –
lamps shine beneath the old park trees:
the sign of reverent romantics
shadowfully evading
droning cars, dull skies
– seeking for the Other.
Some float on drugs
encaved by arms of leaves,
drift into dreams enticing,
strange as Circe’s kiss,
alluring, relentless as her eyes.
Some stride a destination’s path
hands pocketed, but thrilling at
each deep breath shared
with reaching branches.
Or under foliage-ribbed vaults
stroll they whose tipples are starlight
and love.
I wonder, does the green tint cling
and soothe the morning of its faults?

That low pink streak – a setting comet –
is Danny´s late-night Diner:
Sign of the odd and wakeful ones
with too much to remember…
An old man in a gabardine,
pallid face washed rose by lights
will be staring at the ghosts,
as he rocks a stub of ember
in tea pooled on his saucer
articulates, slow,
to his feet.
Perhaps a tease of girls
startle him with giggles
sharing knickerbocker glory;
he would not let it show.

There’s a giant golden chess board! –
One office plays for power,
while the smaller competition
of towering cubic frames
have emptied all their living cells
to take a human hour.
But the men of money trading in its thrall –
what itching thrill, doom-load pressure
makes them thow their square existence,
lined with numbers like dice,
in a constant game to win or lose it all?

The ring of twelve bright marks
is Time’s Halo: the station clock
which soberly warns travellers,
unfazed by pounding feet,
pleading cries or blame;
marks how soon Eternity will come
for the vagabonds it shelters
under poster-moulting wings.
But the jolly, foul-mouthed, grey-haired dame,
and youthful hoodie far from home
pay no heed, or else drink
to forget chronology, and cheer death on.

If ‘Home’ should mean familiar joy –
those cottage windows untamed land
breaks upon, adventure´s twinkle
in bright, thatch-browed eyes –
would be a perfect corner.
They must be happy who live there,
in clustering golden specks
which hover on the hill
like a charm of bees in sunshine,
or basket of rich grain about to spill.

In town, through scattered seeds of light
glints a long, red, avenue –
where desire traces passion;
and when he finds her dead,
in his emptiness
pours emptiness
into emptiness
on a withered-rose quilt bed.
And he leaves pretending he did not want to be happy
– just to prove he was alive;
and she hopes forgetting comes easier each time;
slicks another scarlet bow
to gift her pretty face,
quakes at the appetite she wakes
so that a living corpse
and its dreams be fed.

A pale jade glow diffuses in the dark
from immense waving walls:
iceberg in the moonlight or a ghostly ship?
A hospital perhaps is both:
the wrecking and the saving –
wearied, lost faces peer
out of unblinking glass –
beneath the metal awning
as if with thirsty eyes they could upturn
this choking, fate-starred night
– reach the azure flow of morning.

But it is long in the dark,
and I am cold, bewildered –
alien to myself;
totter to collapse upon a chair;
curl – small comfort – near my fated sign:
twinkling urchins of street-lamps and the rain…
fiery tears upon a window pane.

About the author:

Ruth Asch is a poet and creative prose writer, whose work is to be found printed in several anthologies, literary journals, websites, and in her early book Reflections. She is also a part-time teacher and mother of five, living in Preston, England.

Other work by Ruth Asch on Flashes:


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Created in 2014, Flashes is a privately owned literary website. We publish short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Our goal is to give talented writers a platform to showcase their creativity, with an emphasis on original voice, innovative style and challenging plots.
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