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Urban Labyrinth

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : March 19, 2007

I don’t write poetry very often. And what little I’ve written isn’t all that good. But I thought I’d share the following poem, which I wrote this morning at Hard Times Cafe. I share it because it reflects my theology of sacred space and liturgics more than any essay I could write:

Urban Labyrinth

The sidewalks of the city are my labyrinth
broken bottles and shabby men
roasting coffee
and gutter garbage
tickle God’s nose like the prayers of the saints
incense of the West Bank
I’m a pilgrim of the streets
looking at my feet
on the way to Hard Times Cafe

Somali women condemn the cold
lamentations of displaced winters
businessmen drive through
on their daily trek to Temple
gutterpunks still in bed
icons of the West Bank
I’m a pilgrim of the streets
looking at my feet
on the way to Hard Times Cafe

Tree roots crawl through the forgotten soil
challenging, pushing, wriggling free
from the confines of their cement overlord
subverting the sidewalk
an arbor day revolution
a Kyrie for the West Bank
I’m a pilgrim of the streets
looking at my feet
on the way to Hard Times Cafe

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Comments

One Response to “Urban Labyrinth”

  1. markvans on March 19th, 2007 11:22 am

    Just to clarify some terms in the poem (in case you’re a new reader):
    West Bank=another name for the Cedar/Riverside Neighborhood of Minneapolis

    Hard Times Cafe=a coffee shop on the West Bank that is the center of gravity for punks and other counter-cultural types in Minneapolis

    Gutterpunks=(working class and/or inner-city street punks)

    Kyrie=the biblical prayer of the repentant tax collector–it is basic building block for Eastern Orthodox prayers: Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy).

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