Cityscape anatomy

The city’s built from bones and cartilage; the foundation of its skyline are constipated guts; the soil is saturated with our blood. The city is a beast. When I window-shop for clothes I see, reflected, the vacant eyes of yet a homeless man. Tucked away, his home consists of some discarded blankets and a cardboard mattress; bagged are rags. Between us there’s a wall of language, status, age but we share the city’s wordless fear. The fear of strangers. I watch a passing girl, yet unaware, still blinded by its glitz. who have not seen its jaws. She searches heartbeats in the clubs, but dismisses her own. I scurry for the subway; for safety I hide with you at home.

Behind the tinted glass of a limousine the teenage girl says no.


Today at haibun Monday I host, and I want you to go all contemporary at dVerse. Write about the cityscape. Go gritty. Write about the lack of nature. Just to mark that this is not a traditional haibun (and probably not a haibun at all) I used an American Sentence instead of a haiku.
October 17, 2017

31 responses to “Cityscape anatomy

  1. As one who commutes to the city daily, I can those homeless men. And this story rings so true:

    I watch a passing girl, yet unaware, still blinded by its glitz. who have not seen its jaws. She searches heartbeats in the clubs, but dismisses her own.

    And yikes, I have seen them in the subway tracks….

  2. Excellent writing here – all the stuff I do NOT miss about the city. I love the last line of your American city – so sad but so typical of the seekers seeking for what? outside themselves.

  3. I love that title … right off the bat, it makes me think of an autopsy or a “city” on a surgeon’s table. I’m specifically picturing that buzzing game called Operation.

    “the foundation of its skyline are constipated guts” … That is priceless.

    The whole thing is awesome, but I especially like the line above plus these:

    “Between us there’s a wall of language”
    “we share the city’s wordless fear. The fear of strangers”
    “I watch a passing girl, yet unaware, still blinded by its glitz. who have not seen its jaws. She searches heartbeats in the clubs, but dismisses her own” … That is powerful. I love that you hardly say anything about her, making me wonder about the backstory. I’m surprised that if she doesn’t care about her own heart at all, she doesn’t just go ahead and jump into the mouth. You must be wrong. She must be trying to keep her heart safe. To me, this is Miley Cyrus … making a different choice, years ago, in the direction in which she let her life go.

      • I LOVE it when that happens … when you write something one way, interpreting it (as the writer) in one way, but then having a reader come along and see something different, that you may like even better. … I used to read this guy who wrote, hmmm, 70% abstract poetry. He’d mean one thing when he posted, but he’d be happy to let me flip it on its head, even to the point of changing his mind about what it meant to him. That’s my favorite kind of poetry … pieces that can go in different directions because they contain just the right amount of vagueness.

  4. Great title and opening lines, Björn. Your haibun is raw and quite chilling, especially the line: ‘She searches heartbeats in the clubs, but dismisses her own.’

  5. Excellent title Bjorn 🙂 You have captured the essence of what goes in our world, especially the lines; “The fear of strangers. I watch a passing girl, yet unaware, still blinded by its glitz. who have not seen its jaws” really spoke to me. Beautifully executed.

  6. Whoa…this is a nightmare….a living, breathing nightmare. The homeless man and you…quite a juxtaposition. Indeed, divided by age, class, status. Now I understand that “American sentence’. Missed it completely. Bones and cartilage….amazing and true imagery. We can dig even deeper into this psyche of the city, but I think it’s enough. I always wonder where the homeless use the bathroom, if they bathe, etc….until I saw, I saw. Some of us most of us….escape the city and its clamor, but this was a good exercise in observation and vision.

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  8. A very strong entry, & perfect illustration of your prompt. You being an outdoorsman, not living in the city, you are so much more alert to its foibles; denizens of inner city create scotomas & hard hearts.

  9. you captured the darkness of a city’s anatomy and your simple sentences worked so powerfully. Now i want to retract what i wrote. haha.
    Well done, Sir!

  10. The soil is saturated with our blood.

    City dwellers are the ones who take the brunt of the greedy business men and other predators. They are vicious on the deprived who are sprawled on the ground bashed.


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  12. You’ve dug deep into the grit of the city. It’s realistic and raw, but your voice is empathetic, realizing the commonality in the fear of strangers and protectiveness for the girl.

  13. The city as a creature consisting of steel, concrete and emotion that devours the unwary and righteous alike. The American sentence is perfect.

  14. belated praise for a vividly succinct cityscape – honed by that sharpest of sentenced endings

  15. I went with an American Sentence too…just seemed right for the prompt. Love how you bring in that glitz that blinds the unwary about the city’s jaws.

  16. the passing girl yet unaware, blinded by its glitz.
    Great phrase! Yes — I remember when we lived in Iowa and we’d travel every Thanksgiving to a family celebration in Chicago (really in a suburb) and then on Saturday, go into the city. I definitely was a gawker and missed many a curbe because I was looking up!
    Now, having lived in Boston all these years, I do find the life in the city rather than the skeletons.

  17. I wasn’t going to take part but several aspects of your haibun pulled me in. A previous comment mentions the empathy that shows through the write – I agree.

  18. The juxtaposition between you and the homeless man is written into this in a very striking way and I found ‘I watch a passing girl, yet unaware, still blinded by its glitz. who have not seen its jaws’ very poignant. I was 18 when I first arrived in London speaking only basic English and there is something I read here in that you cannot fear what you do not know.

  19. If anything scares me more than visions of dark futures, it is the visions of our present. You captured this perfectly in your writing.

  20. Vancouver – the city where I live – is a city with probably some of the most extremes of any city. Tremendous wealth (the average house price is now 1.4 M), and yet, our East end is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the western world. Much of the population suffers from issues such as mental illness and drug addiction, with the highest rate of HIV infections in North America. I really relate to the glitz and the jaws in this piece.

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