Tom in New York | TeenInk

Tom in New York

December 14, 2018
By drahcir-swims GOLD, Highland Park, New Jersey
drahcir-swims GOLD, Highland Park, New Jersey
19 articles 6 photos 0 comments

You scroll through the digitally preserved pages

Of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

And from the yellowed, ragged novel

(Which has long since become dust drifting aimlessly

Across this barren planet)

Rises boy brimming with the vigor of youth

The eternal revelry of games and pranks.


You step onto the streets

Of your sprawling metropolis

Squeeze through dim avenues

Shadowed by towering skyscrapers

And finally arrive at

The river.


In the toxic waters there sit giants

Festering within rolls of

Not fat

But metal

Massive cargo ships

Their hulls straining under the heaps of plastic

That choke the decks.


There is no raft

To cleave surging waves of

Frothing white

There is no island bristling with

Sinister trees and lurking secrets

There are no fish to catch for a aspiring, dauntless pirate

In these murky depths tainted with

The poison of Death

And pollution.


You stick a trembling hand

Into the cloudy waters

And grime latches on

Like leeches,

Blotting the purity of your skin.


You hurriedly shrink away from the ghastly waterway.

You are but a bony expanse

Of skeletal white

Forced upon you by the shadows which haunt the halls

Of skyscraper stomachs.

Your being is a plant

Seeking the warm rays

Of the great fiery orb which nestles in midnight folds

But the Sun has been evicted

From these Earthly premises

And so you resort to the cold, hard pills

Forced down your throat by the cackling doctors of society

Each artificial ball of perfectly distributed red and white reminiscent of

Blood and corpse-filled body bags.


Once more you seek to learn from

Tom Sawyer’s carefree ways,

Searching for a fence,

A plain wooden fence,

Amid the throngs of indifferent humans.


The department store down the block

Has a diverse array of synthetic wood

But trees and natural wooden fences have vanished

Into the pages of history books,

These behemoths that outlived all life on Earth,

But could not outlive the crude metal chainsaws

That toppled them.


You wander, despondent, through the streets

And finally arrive at a chain link fence,

Rattling emptily in the wind in a dismal refrain

Of the proud silence and sturdiness of Tom’s whitewashed wood.

The swaying metal latticework demarcates where the barren soil of this city ends

And where the desert of its neighbor begins.


The rusty steel wire chafing against your frail skin

You reach out a hand

To the world beyond, the liberty, the unknown

But all you feel is the harsh brick of the apartment on the other side,

Lackeys of the shimmering, glass-paned edifices in the distance,

A human-crafted skyline to mirror your own.


You stoop down to the noxious gray soil

Beneath your feet and scoop up a handful

Watching the discolored remnants of plastics

Slowly slip through your fingers,

Leaving behind trails of the sludge spurting out of

Industrial pipelines,

The slime trails of so many artificial

Life-suffocating snails.


You dig deeper,

The debris buried within the ground cutting

Your palms, your eyes shining with hope

With the possibility of uncovering an ancient trove

of buried gold to rival

the might heroes of lore.


As the sun settles behind the looming spires

Of skyscrapers,

You finally sit back, resigned,

Your cracked fingernails smarting in pain,

For you have found beneath the ground

Naught but dirty plastic.


The author's comments:

Through this piece, I hope readers ask themselves what path they are forcing this planet upon.


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