New city.
New city.

Soviet sirens singing aloud,

Their voices trembling

As they see the throngs

Of wearied sailors leaving

Their rocky shores.

Dust billows, swept by breezes

Made cool by icy rains,

Deep puddles made by

Truck tires still shallow

And wet in contrast with

The dirt-laden air.

The city moans as I speed away,

Everything smaller behind,

Not that I am able to see it,

Myself having no mirrors

That lead to the past.

Moving for hours down the only

Paved road I can say

It has been a pleasure

To be upon after months

Of beaten paths littered

With trash and rocks;

The rocks there to help

Move when it rains.

We arrive where we had aimed,

A pair of arrows on descent,

Shot in an arch at cardboard tubes,

Passing heretical mounts,

Having not pleased their flock,

Now stand decapitated,

Sorrowful in their unnatural ends.

Compared the the heat

And locust-filled skies

From whence I came,

The harshness of the city

Stuns my body.

The air is dry and my lips

Feel their pleasant summer sheen

Sapped out of them

By the bandit skies,

My hands dry and hard,

Yet smooth to touch

Like sanded wood.

The eternal blue that was once above

Closed its eyes above me now,

Rows of dreary buildings

Have water stains dripping

Down the frames of windows

And balconies as if

The city itself were crying

At the abandonment.

I sit inside and look around,

Pale colors in cheery patterns

Cover my walls

With marbled frames

And ornate detailing

Filling the space

Above my head.

I think of them now, the sirens

Of the forgotten shores,

Now replaced by a new

Alluring melody

Sung by a different throng

With crystals on their lips,

Yet with that same fire

In their chests.

Composed 08/20/2012

Author’s Note: I’m not saying that my city is worst than Darkhan in this poem, quite the contrary. The similarities were striking: Soviet apartment blocks, schools set up similarly. This city, Erdenet, looked like an actual city. It had blocks, roads that made sense, a main street, and a semblance of forethought in the city planning. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I think it’s the best city in Mongolia, but I didn’t want to romanticize it with this poem; just describe what I saw on that particular day when I moved to my new home for the next two years.

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