the people are the city

The Wall on the CBC Plaza, Vancouver

“the people are the city” by Paul de Guzman, 2013


red letters by Charlene Kwiatkowski


on Hamilton Street in Yaletown

red letters on a concrete wall

reach me with their lower-case lives


not big enough to record in history books

but big enough to stop me

a traffic light on the street


that’s me on the ladder

that’s you measuring the frame

that’s him showing us where to lay the beam


we are building on a building

stories in a story

texts on an architext


isn’t this an image of us all

working on our lower-case lives

carpenter clothes like lab coats


experimenting with an idea

incomplete, we can’t see

but we dream dream dream


the excitement is building

the building is excitement

we are the building


but look at all the walls

we don’t touch, talk about, or share

and this image is not at all like us


people work together

people work together

people work together


is this real or wishful thinking?

is the city plural?

are we together or are we alone together?


say it three times

the holy trinity of incantation

that makes the imagined real


read the red letters

again and again

and again


Description of The Wall. Click the picture for a bigger view.

The artist’s statement, which ties into my poem. Clicking on the picture will take you to a website where you can also read it.

1 thought on “the people are the city

  1. “are we together or are we alone together”

    that’s a very good question. i’m leaning towards the latter… but maybe it’s all the readings i’m doing on marxism and alienation.

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