The City That ____ Built—An Insert-Your-Angst-and-Live-in-It Prompt

One of my favorite lines in a song is “I live in a city sorrow built” from The National’s “Sorrow” on High Violet. I tried to visualize what that city would look like. Would it be shrouded in gray, no sunlight ever, only a hazy cold mist? Would the buildings be rusting metal and dirty plexiglass? The streets twisted and the sidewalks empty of birds? Would even the traffic lights be monochrome?

Perhaps anxiety is a more applicable home for me so that I live in a city of barb wire fences, ticking clocks, worried faces and emergency sirens. Every intersection mandates a mad dash of shrieking children, honking trucks, bicyclists, pets and skittish rabbits. The roads glitter with shattered glass and mirrors. The buildings are either abandoned and precariously leaning or overcrowded and violating fire codes. 

What emotion do you live in? What colors your world? Is it rage where you walk upon brush-pile paths under matchstick trees, live in houses of deadwood, drink gasoline from the tap and feed the birds—every one a phoenix—gun powder and a slap. 

Or is it lust that warms your world with every district Red Light and the buildings phallic wonders and the grottos deep and inviting? Do the birds call out, “Hey, baby” to passersby, and the honeysuckle drips wanton? 

Do you live in a world of joy? Can you describe it to me? I have only visited. 

For ideas, read Liam Rector’s “This City” and Ericka Meitner’s “Ghost Eden” and Lynne Melnick’s “Landscape with Riffraff and Poison” and her entire collection Landscape With Sex and Violence