This is my poem for the June 3rd, Sunday Scribblings prompt: “Town & Country”. NOTE: There is a recorded “spoken word” version also available here, located at the bottom of the post.

Author’s note: Upon reading the weekly prompt, this piece came pouring out of my mind, in a stream of consciousness, at about 2:30 AM this morning. In about 25 minutes, it had arrived — basically intact. I incorporated very little editing, and that came without the need to ponder long.

This was a very, very strange and captivating bit of inspiration?! So much so, that I felt compelled that it remain, by and large, in the form it was birthed — essentially untouched.

It does speak to, and apparently from, my soul. It reflects the essence of my belief that we must heed the warnings that come daily from within the walls of our cities. Namely, that the crowding-in humankind still continues, to the most bloated, and ineffective of our concrete jungles (to borrow a cliché), has been the seed of our growing de-humanization — the desensitizing of our collective spirit.

“Awe!” does not condemn. It beseeches we look, and be aware.

In our ever-growing loss of touch with nature, we are dangerously loosing touch with our true personal nature, our compassion — the balance.



They rise gargantuan.
Icons of the clever human.
Ego’s folly!

They vibrate with the rush and chaos
of synapse and sinew,
the hum of networked urgency –
data outdistancing comprehension,
can beyond the reach of should.

Bedecked in stainless, stone, and such,
in halogen blaze and neon glow,
they surge with fear and greed.
Balance sought in the here and there
of art and true creative zest –
short fallen.

Poured, erected, glassened, and festooned.

In varying shape and differing size,
they flank in concrete corridors
that criss and cross and blink and beep and ring,
that buzz and belch and hiss — and stink!

They regiment like-patterned minds
that submit and hide within,
college’d clones,
protected in their daily dealing.

Haughty monoliths,
their walls separate,
isolate —
emotional anonymity,
the intent of their design.

They intimidate,
and amaze,
in cold and calculated majesty.

But they do not, cannot, touch the soul…

nor offer solace to the human core
that seeks the folded petal’s mystery,
that marvels at the smallness of a changing frond,
at the might of gnarled bark,
or the magic of budding branch.

They do not touch the spirit,
soothed by wind and water,
thrilled by song of birds, or swoop of hawks,
or enlivened by the yelp or bark or bleat of beasts.

They cannot reach the soul
that needs to see and know a salmon’s trek,
the open sky, the roll of unobstructed clouds,
the fall of stars.

They have nothing for the soul
that needs to hear the crack of thunder
resound for miles across the plain
then off the mountain’s face.

They fail the human core
that needs the fresh embrace of rain,
the crisp and quiet drift of snow,
the hues and sway of living fields.

They leave the spirit cold
that needs to watch the orchard’s blossoms bloom to fruit,
see forests thick beyond horizons,
or feel the lift of cresting surf.


there are no human constructs that satisfy
this need
to know the evolving natural wonders
that inspire –

that swell the soul
and resonate the heart,

in awe…

in balance…

fully alive!

To hear alternate “spoken word” version read by author, click here

Rob Kistner © 2007

28 thoughts on “Awe!”

  1. Rose

    Thank you!

    I like cities. 😉

    I love Portland, the city near to which I live. It is vital, and well-conceived. Kept under control to date, as much as is possible, by consensus of an informed, and well-meaning population.

    Towns and cities are not inherently evil, they are the opposite — they are necessary for certain purposes. But unfortunately, so many are examples of the human fatal flaw of untempered, and unthinking excess.

    We are relentlessly killing off nature, our nature — breaking the essential link to our natural essence, our inherent self. When we see earth from space, it is not a coincidence that our teaming cities appear as a cancer would appear — consuming the host.

    They reflect the unchecked overpopulation of this fragile planet — and they are disconnecting vast populations of its people from their necessary bond with nature.

    While certainly not the only cause of the world’s strife, this unintentional isolation from things natural, breeds discontent of the soul, which distorts the spirit, and summons a colder, harsher heart.

    If we are able to be honest, those of our cities, which are the most out of control, hold a mirror to our baser human nature — our fear, greed, and cruelty …our unmindful ego.

    All things in moderation, in balance — so many of our cities reflect neither. So this piece is not so much a condemnation, as it is a call to look more closely — one I believe we need to hear and heed.

    Just my humble opinion.  Peace!

  2. Gautami

    Thank you!

    As I wrote to Rose above, it came in a kind of epiphanal rush. Unsettling, in a wonderful way.

  3. Great poem (as usual).
    And lucky you who get disturbed at that ungodly hour by such harmony (my early morning imagination tends to verge on the bizarre if not horror stories).

  4. Excellent writing (as always). And every word is true. Extremities of cities really are monuments to man’s greed. And I also agree that we were meant to have nature be an intrinsic part of our lives.

  5. My favorite dwelling place for a long time was a treehouse that my father build for me. It had a skylight that I could activate with my foot… basically pushing aside a branch at its base so that the light could stream down in.

    As soon as someone explained to me the role of trees in the generation of oxygen, I became convinced that spending time in my treehouse was good for me.

    I heard a piece on the radio (probably NPR) sometime in the last few weeks about a building that had been built to extremely exacting “green” standards… fresh air circulating within, natural light for everyone, a natural living roof… not surprisingly, everyone who visited the building remarked on how much better it felt to be inside that building than in most they’d been in. At least once a week, someone visiting the building for the first time stopped to ask the people in human resources, “How could I work here?”

    Maybe someday we’ll all wise up…

  6. Rena

    Thank you!

    Man has been moving contrary to his nature for quite some time now, and the evidence of the price we will pay is just beginning to show itself.

    Hopefully we will awaken soon, and find our way back home.

  7. Shelley

    The treehouse sounds very cool! I’ll bet you did love it! 🙂

    Here is a treehouse that is unique, and another.

    Humanity will wake up someday — I just hope it doesn’t take an apocalypse for it to happen.

  8. Hi Rob,

    I’m quite impressed with this stream of consciousness… I am in such agreement with you. But then, I am and have always been a complete and total country mouse.

    I particularly like the parallel contruction of all the stanzas that begin with some variation of ‘they do not.’

    It felt to me like a modern version of Wordsworth’s The World is Too Much With Us.

  9. I decided to read all of your description above the poem of how it came to be as I should before reading it. That seems like the same way I often write. Especially the lack of editing. I don’t ever do that. Nothing I write is polished, alhtough I have to say your poem seems quite polished. This was an amazing stream of thought. How much you thought about how cities don’t do anything for helping out the spirit and soul of a person is amazing. More importantly it is true. Excellent work my friend.

  10. Sasha

    Your kind words are appreciated.

    We all find inspiration for our writing, but with regard to the completeness and insistence with which “Awe!” came to me — this was very unlike anything I have experienced before, save for much smaller works.

    I will read the Wordsworth piece to which you refer. I have always thought his was a great name for a writer.

  11. Chris

    Thank you!

    I usually have the need to edit pieces ‘forever’, and a number of times when a piece is first created — often in the real time of writing it.

    And while there were a few phrases I massaged, in general, this is what arrived, as it arrived.

    Now that this piece is in my portfolio, I’m certain I will pick at it as time goes on, ;)  …but it feels rather right at the moment.

  12. Yes your sentiments are all too true. We need to live with the natural world around us so that we can remain rooted and aware of our own place in the grand scheme of things. I’m lucky in living in a small, relatively green city where a new city council has got in just in time to prevent some of the ecologically and culturally damaging developments planned by the previous administration.

  13. Juliet

    You are lucky! It is getting more and more difficult to keep a balance like you describe with your city.

  14. very nice…I love very much this lines:

    They fail the human core
    that needs the fresh embrace of rain,
    the crisp and quiet drift of snow,
    the rolling fields of flowers and grain

  15. Ararboleda

    Thank you for your kind words.

    You visit from Chile.  Welcome to Image & Verse! 🙂

    Please visit again.

  16. Kikare

    I am pleased that what I wrote to Rose resonated with you. It was sincere and without cosmetic.

    My responses to comments on my blog are true stream-of-consciousness, ‘gut’ reactions to something that gets triggered. They are me, unplugged, and unfiltered — the raw stuff, if you will. 😉

    I seek to make no apologies, nor do I seek favor or approval — just keeping it real as I can.

    –and so it goes–

  17. Rethabile

    Thank you!

    I believe the early morning ‘sleep’ hours are the time we are the most ‘unplugged’ from our ego — more at flow with our essential self.

    It might also mean that is the time when sleep deprivation is having its most hallucinatory impact? 😉

  18. Molly

    The secret to capturing your wee hours muse is — never go to sleep before 3:30 AM… 😉

    Less and less sleep seems to get easier and easier the deeper my years get stacked — maybe it’s inevitable?

    Perhaps, in knowing I have fewer and fewer days — I just want to get the maximum use out of each?

    Thanks for visiting Molly.


  19. Frances

    Thank you!

    Feel free to enjoy this piece as often as you like.

    You might also enjoy my spoken word recording of “Remembering Allen“.

    I love the header art on your blog BlogForth site!

    Here’s lookin’ at you kid…  😉

    See you next Sunday!

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