VIDEO: Poet Laureate Bob Stanley’s ‘love letter’ to Sacramento
Sacramento Poet Laureate Bob Stanley wrote an ode to Sacramento entitled "City of Slow Rivers" about three years ago, and he recently performed it for Capital Public Radio.
Poem text used with permission of Bob Stanley. Video compiled by Andrew Nixon of Capital Public Radio and used with permission.
"City of Slow Rivers"
city of slow rivers, draining from north and east
city of summers long and hot, sweet discomfort of close to a hundred degrees; if you live here you savor
it, you learn when to stay in and when to breathe evening’s cool; if you hail from somewhere else you
might not understand; Sacramento summer’s a state of life, a way of mind.
city of the capitol, workers of a thousand kinds, workers legislative, workers social, workers judicial,
workers financial, toiling for the golden state, for the people; filling up downtown, midtown,
lobbyists and planners, agriculture, business, senators, representatives. Spending money perhaps like
philanthropists, perhaps like kings
city of Kings striving to again be kings: Webber and the great Serbs have moved on, Mitch for 3 long
gone, but Martin and the others wait for transformation, for the rookie who might ignite the floor,
because once there was fire. City of almost there, the painful remembrance of things past
city of Mather and McClellan, Travis and Beale, city of the air, city of the force
city your children grew up in, city they leave and return to, where they ran in sprinklers, kicked balls,
drove their first drive
city of the fair, the Expo; (why is it all concrete?)
not first city, not Golden Mountain; no, the Chinese called it Yee Fow: second city. But a city built on
gold, nonetheless; tarnished then, still tarnished, still bright
county of suburbs and homes, parkway and farmland, foreclosures and furloughs, county of America,
half red, half blue, hot in summer, waiting for rain in winter
city and county reflecting world: African, Asian, European, Russian and Mexican and Ukrainian, Filipino
and Hmong and Lao and Pakistani and Indian, Yemeni and Afghani and Iraqi, peoples of this world
making up this Sacramento, this sacred land, a world itself, baking in street-fed heat
O city, they tell me you broil in the summer and I answer: Yes, I have felt the deep bake of August weigh
upon my heart. But show me another city with alfresco evenings among the sound of dove and jay.
Show me another city with the world dancing in the faces of its dwellers, show me a flat grid divided,
or united by these streams. Mild rains of winter, thousands streaming in their cars, reservoirs and wide
streets, geese overhead and buildings full and empty flowing from the unfathomable seasons of money.
I see all these pictures, decades of my life, and know that in this land of slow rivers, desert filled with
trees, here I stay, for a home is something we define for ourselves with time; a home needs time to