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Featured Poem III • October 2015


The City


Beth Cato


the city inhales curdled heat of a million bodies uptown rose gardens manure fragrant with promise exhales black fumes of furnaces to create a cozy blanket stitched of clouds and coal the city chews those who wander beneath the streets digests lives in the putrid wash of factories that forever thrum expectorates bones flow to the marsh where women in broad straw hats practice watercolors and breathy giggles the city dreams memories a fevered swirl where mud huts blur to thatch and brick, and steam engines shiver and shake them all to dust



Beth CatoBeth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham. She’s the author of The Clockwork Dagger (a finalist for the 2015 Locus Award for First Novel) and The Clockwork Crown from Harper Voyager. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

Beth shared this tidbit about the origin of “The City”: “This poem emerged from a seed from the Writer’s Digest Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge, which takes place every April and November. That challenge is when I produce the bulk of my poems each year. The prompt for that day was, quite simply, ‘city.’ I write steampunk novels, and I immediately had an image of a city inhaling toxic factory smoke. The stanzas flowed from there. This is one of those rare poems that wrote itself and required very little revision.”



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