Making Space for Gratitude


About a week ago I was biking and saw a beautiful sunset over the river in downtown Beloit, but there was no great place to stop and observe. I didn’t want to keep craning my neck over to the left as I biked down the path, so I pulled over to a patch of (nearly dead) grass. Sitting right next to a major road made it noisy, but it gave me time to remember how much I love the Rock River despite it being one of the most polluted in the country. My stop also reminded me that we don’t need designated spots for finding beauty around us. We can stop any time or anywhere we want to appreciate the good!

Recipe for Saving Rust Town U.S.A.

When I think my city is finally dying, 

at last the brick mortar store fronts are 

crumbling onto the cracked cement sidewalks, 

and all my friends are jumping ship for the countryside

taking refuge in log cabins on the lake

I go and sit by the river. 

Before I let my adrenaline kick me into

hightailing it behind the good people of the world 

toward greener pastures,

I let the swirling pink whisps of clouds at sunset

skimming above the carboard factory,

I let them filter in.

The river’s polluted and it smells like dying fish, but 

gold rimmed sunset lifts up from flat brick rooftops

in something like a prayer.

This dog eared city is part of me

and I keep coming back to it

whether or not I want to,

whether or not I even care.

It eats up my dreams.

If I sit next to the dam 

with the people on the highway speeding by me,

I can listen to the river churning and billowing 

through everything soild and static.

If I pay attention, this place 

can be my urban shrine.

Now there’s a heron and an airplane 

flying tandem above the river as it tumbles 

over itself, in life-affirming spirals of kinetic springs

and as far as I can tell

I’m the only one watching.


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