Friday, December 09, 2005

Dear Lady Denver

(Note: In 1981, after experiencing more than a decade of what was called "Urban Renewal" in lower downtown Denver that destroyed many of Denver's most significant landmarks, I wrote the following poem, which was published in Denver's "Out Front" magazine in July, 1981. I suspect that no one who is not a native of Denver and pretty close to my age will recognize the references I make. But, in light of my unkind piece on the "revitalization" of downtown Oklahoma City, I thought it only fair to express my thoughts on the sad, sad devastation of many of Denver's crown jewels in the name of "Urban Renewal" back in the '60s and '70s. )

Dear Lady Denver

tell me old girl
does the face lifting still go on?
do those thick-fingered surgeons of
steel and stone
still build up
where your soul was torn down?

hear me out.
I am your native son
(and there are precious few of us).
take some time from your
fancy modern gyrations and
listen to one who remembers.

I am one who remembers
when the Old Prospector
was as untouchable as the clouds
and as curious to a young boy
as a jet plane in a steep climb or
a Colorado Winter's first snowfall.

And now...
Now the Old Prospector has come down to earth.
He collects pennies at the Towers and
silently stares as he is touched by tourists
and passed by an endless parade
of fume-spewing autos.
I cannot help but think
his shoulders have stooped a bit.

Do you know Old Girl
that I am one who remembers when
there was no Zeckendorf
where noontime loafers putt
on fake green grass and
there was a time--I know you recall it--
when those long-robed
pony-tailed devotees of Hare Krishna
didn't dance their simple jig
to the tinny sounds of finger cymbals
on 16th Street.

Listen, Dear Lady,
Do you know
there used to be a Windsor
where Hayden Simpson and his friends
played Ragtime
in a room where the echoes of your youth
still haunted those
elegant high ceilings and
broad hallways?

there was an opera house called Tabor
that was your pride and joy
'til the sleazy cinema
corrupted its foundation and
brought the bulldozers
to rid you of its plight.

there is so much
to remember Old Girl.
there is so much to be sorry for.
All that which used to be
could still be
if only...
If only you would have realized
what you were losing.

Excuse me, Dear Lady:
The wine is gone;
The music has stopped;
The fire is out.
I feel that I must be going.

But, Dear Friend,
The next time a high-rise
let's get drunk on the heady wine of our memories,
to the sweet sounds of ragtime.

(NOTE: The picture in the upper left hand corner is the Old Prospector which used to stand atop the Mining Exchange Building, a picture of which is directly below the statue. The Old Prospector now stands outside Brooks Towers. Status of the Mining Exchange Building - gone. The building in the upper right hand corner is the Tabor Grand Opera House. Its status - gone. A picture of the Windsor Hotel is below that of the Tabor Grand Opera House. It's status - gone.

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