By the Rivers of Babylon

I’ve lived in Austin for 18 years but still don’t feel quite at home here. I grew up all over North America, but mostly in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. It has changed and I can’t afford to live there and don’t care for the people who do. It was always a rich county and we were middle class. I’ve developed an attitude to rich people’s attitudes. Nice place to visit but I don’t want to live there.

The Depot, a coffee house and bookstore in Mill Valley, used to be full poets, writers, and and other creative types. Now it is full of entitled people in expensive leisure or athletic clothes.

I still miss the woods, hills, and Mt. Tam.

The Melodians’ “By the Rivers of Babylon” sets Psalm 137 to music. It speaks of being far from home.

By the Rivers of Babylon
for the Melodians

African man, in exile,
sings a song of Hebrew people,
in exile, millennia before,
mocked by captors.
I am in exile,
trying, hoping, longing
to find my way home
where there is no road.

Reaching out to
my own heartache
for compass, for direction,
for any sign of the way.
Sitting by a river with water
not like my river's water,
a painful reminder of home
and still so foreign.

This was my first publication of the year in di-vêrsé-city, the Austin International Poetry Festival (aipf.org) adult anthology. It is available only in print. I incorrectly attributed By the Rivers of Babylon to Bob Marley, a common misconception. As far as I can tell he never recorded the song.

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