Stemmons Freeway

In Dallas there is
an empty place
equal to nothing
I’ve ever known.

It glitters at night.
Flashes of neon,
LED, a million

separate impulses
luring the eye
to come and see


An open range
with no cattle,
a banquet set

for nobody.

In the historic
West End, near
the place where
JFK was shot,

a bus drives over
brick streets.

It is spotted like a cow.
It moos.

Somewhere in my head,
an argument begins.

There is something here.
Every place has something.
I know it is here—I saw it;
I took many cab rides
in order to see it.

Undoubtedly, this is so.
Undoubtedly, I am being

And yet,
memory insists upon

clouds and wind over
Stemmons Freeway from
the smoked glass windows

of the Hilton Anatole, where
cowboy ghosts could wander
for days, unseen, unfelt,


amidst glories of Asian art.



To be linked later today for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

Also, I did enjoy Dallas, and I hope no one is hurt by the rather jaundiced view in this poem. It is just one facet of my impression of that city, and I could easily write an entire chapbook about all the great experiences I had there.

Even the hotel I reference was lovely and very, very impressive — just separated from everything by a giant freeway. I am used to walking around big cities and exploring them that way, so this is my impression of a city that has many delights but also big stretches that are only navigable by car. 


24 thoughts on “Stemmons Freeway

  1. “Flashes of neon,
    LED, a million

    separate impulses
    luring the eye
    to come and see


    There are places like that in many cities. Like you, I prefer to be able to explore new places on foot, but some places just aren’t made that way.

    • True! Sometimes, you just have to get used to the idea that you’re going to take a cab ride and then go for a walk — not just step outside your door and find the splendors of the city awaiting you.

  2. a bus drives over
    brick streets.

    It is spotted like a cow.
    It moos…..fav part…. and oh i’m all for capturing cities…each has their own character and with each it’s kind of a conversation…maybe even a kiss..ha…love it…and i too prefer to walk a city rather than having to drive it..

    • There really was a bus like that! Every city has a poem or two in it somewhere. I’ve never encountered one that I didn’t love at least a little bit — some cities just take a little more effort to get to know than others.

  3. the LED lights was my favorite line also!!

    i also liked the open range without the cattle, and then you mentioned JFK, made me think about the grassy knoll and there’s no cattle eating the grass at the grassy knoll, I suppose. maybe if there were, history would be different.

    (PS – do you know who I am? you do know me.)

    • Hi, Tammy! That was a fun mystery to solve. 🙂 And thanks for your comment. When I was there, the grassy knoll was being refurbished in some way. It’s kind of funny that they call it that, because it always sounded like a more remote place, to me, than it is when you see it in person. “Knoll” sounds so pastoral. I guess “embankment” isn’t as evocative. There’s a museum in the Book Depository, and it’s very well done. It puts minute focus on the timeline of JFK’s Dallas visit, and there are so many points where you wish you could stop time. I understood that event in a way I hadn’t before.

  4. It glitters at night.
    Flashes of neon,
    LED, a million

    separate impulses
    luring the eye
    to come and see


    Very powerful this imagery. Interesting how lights and sounds compete for our attention, but end up imparting nothing of substance.

  5. total empathy for what you wrote, always wanted a city i could walk and find places with small breads, shops, people; and having grown up in texas, know exactly what you mean 😉

    several fav lines, but esp liked,

    “memory insists upon

    clouds and wind over
    Stemmons Freeway”

    yes indeed 😉 nice write, thanks marilyn

    • Thanks, Felipe! Especially nice to hear from a Texan. 🙂 I’ve gotten spoiled living in Chicago and am always startled by less walkable cities. At one point, I asked the hotel concierge if there was anything near us. She said, “Yes, on one side there’s a show warehouse, and on the other, there’s a Denny’s.” I knew then that there were some cab rides in my future …

  6. This is a brilliant write Marilyn! “Luring the eye to come and see nothing”, the bus that is spotted like a cow”, the empty range where cattle and wandering ghosts of cowboys. Very nicely written indeed!!! 🙂

  7. Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder, I reckon. I don’t care much for cities, even the “good” parts of them. I’ve never understood why people want to live in bunches.
    Love your poem. You bring the wide open empty spaces of Dallas to stark life.

  8. ooh, i was caught also by the bus that moos! i remember dallas very very vaguely, having traveled in & through by bus once. i also am more keen on walkable cities, but there is something starkly impressive about all that space….

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