City Lights


Things I have left Unsaid
as the car crosses the bridge
to hold the weight at bay, I focus on the lights
of the city
hundreds of
glowing yellow orange and
dirty white
illuminating the angular vacant offices in the downtown skyscrapers

it occurs to me that there are as many lights in this city
as there are intricacies in human connections,
complexities and egos
which swirl together and tangle
on the high ground of insecurity
like bull kelp at low tide

why are there so many lights on in the buildings my sister asks
people are cleaning, my husband says
I think of the hundreds of women
and men
toiling in the nightly abandoned workspaces of commerce
inhaling cleaning chemicals
and emptying trash cans

stare out at the city lights
homeless people are staring at these same lights from huddled blankets
and alleys
as the privileged pass through them in cars
on their way to late night birthday sushi
embroiled in Things they have left unsaid
night after night after night,
these city lights come on
whether I say these things or not
whether someone makes rent or not
and whether or not they end up clutching huddled blankets in the open air of night

I like the red lights best
it is a glow to hone in on
soft and deep
I train my eyes on those city lights
each a bulb screwed in by someone’s hand
each a filament fixed in place by some machine
each a glow illuminating one Specific Place
each feeding off the same power supply
likely derived from the same falling water
in the same mountains

things I have left unsaid
weigh on me
and I wonder how I should say them
and when
and who will pick up the pieces after

[Image: Seattle City Lights, by AISAVERY, online @



Filed under poetry

4 responses to “City Lights

  1. This is a haunting poem, Sarah. Your take on the separate viewers of the light is very perceptive and shows your compassion. I especially like the cleaning people. Late night birthday sushi says so much and paints a lot of related pictures.

    I just love the whole thing. Pearl

  2. Hi . I enjoy your work. Do you have any recordings of your reading? I’d like to air some of your poems on my radio program.

  3. “each feeding off the same power supply” — That about sums it up for me, and I especially like how it’s said, the neutrality of the whole piece. We’re all connected, though at the same point in time some sleep while others work.

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