The City of Illusion (a poem)

New York
New York | Source

Recited by My Son, Daniel McLaughlin

Source
Source

The City of Illusion

by John Hansen © 2016


Nothing is the way it seems

In this City of Illusion.

What you see is just a ruse

The cause of mass confusion.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Wealth and affluence on show

But darkness lurks beneath,

Poverty's the secret plague,

The city's hidden grief.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

The tallest buildings in the world,

The streets are paved with gold,

But homeless huddle in the dark,

Shivering from the cold.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Source

Celebrities and movie stars

Walk the carpet red,

While families on basic wage

Have trouble staying fed.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Killings happen every day,

People fear intrusion.

Accepted as the social norm

In the City of Exclusion.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Casinos, restaurants and bars

Tempt wealthy clientele,

While charities and soup kitchens

Have a truer tale to tell.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Signs light up the city scape,

Versacé, Rolex, and Nike,

Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari,

All things the elite like.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Homeless Man
Homeless Man
A Riot
A Riot | Source

But many can't afford a car,

A house to own or rent.

Park benches often act as beds,

And money's quickly spent.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

Crime, corruption, power and greed

Control the flow of wealth.

Record profits are the goal

Not equality and health.

∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞ † ∞

The time will come when poor men rise,

Rebel against exclusion.

United they will overthrow

The City of Delusion.

The Following Video

Please excuse the language in the following video and the title. It is a good song and by one of my favourite Australian singers. I have included it because I feel it is very appropriate for this hub.

If anyone is offended please don't complain to HP, just let me know and I will remove it. Thanks.

© 2016 John Hansen

More by this Author


Comments 82 comments

swalia profile image

swalia 8 months ago

This is the harsh reality of all the cities. The sharp contrast between the rich and the poor is indeed striking. A very well-written poem!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes it is certainly a harsh reality Swalia. Things need to change somehow. Thank you for your great comment.


annart profile image

annart 8 months ago from SW England

Well said, John! Love the poem; the flow fits the plodding of weary steps along the street but echoes determination. I totally agree with your thoughts on city life; the glossy veneer hides so much toil and strife. It could be anywhere in the world.

Happy New Year to you and yours, John!

Ann


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Big cities. Interesting how the elite end seems to meld with every other big city. And just as interesting how the lowest end seems the same no matter where you go. Big cities seem the same even 10,000 miles apart.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ann, thanks for reading all three of my latest hubs and for the comments regarding the flow of this poem echoing plodding but determined steps. You are right the city described could be anyone around the world..they are the same within.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Eric, you are right that all big cities are virtually the same..the top 1% mega rich control almost everything and the bottom 15% or so in or bordering on poverty. Thanks for reading.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 8 months ago from london

Nice poem. Illusion in so many ways! What a dream, this life!

A bit country and western, this song. Charming.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you manatita. Cheers bro.


Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 8 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Well done and sad but true.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 8 months ago from Central Florida

John, your poetry is so thought-provoking. The smooth flow gets your point across clearly and succinctly. I agree with you about the song. It's the perfect fit.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton

This poem is indeed thought provoking and the message you are trying to display is clear awesome poem my friend :)


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 8 months ago from Nibiru

The reality of life Jodah, and it will remain that way for decades to come


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 8 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello John. I see this as a deeply felt piece of work. It is true the divide between haves and have nots is growing at a shockingly fast pace.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 8 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Jodah you are a Poet Extraordinaire!!.....As long as we have family, friends & love...we have it all.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 8 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Tell-it-like-it-is! I loved this piece of poetry Jodah. You and I are so much alike when it comes to the way we express our hurt over the plights of the world. Excellent piece.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

I visited Washington D.C. back in 1997 and stayed in a rather nice hotel on Dupont Circle, an affluent part of the city....all was power and riches during the day, but at night we were warned against going out because "the night people" took to the streets. Your wonderful poem reminded me of that....the pain just below the surface of what we see.


shprd74 profile image

shprd74 8 months ago from Bangalore

Very well written jodah.

With no work and extreme boredom in smaller cities people tend to get attracted to the big cities, but, get stuck and get sucked, with neither money nor a will power to go back, continue living a miserable life. Engulfed with all the miseries.

It is a big social problem that needs introspection by all the governments.

No easy solutions. Alas!!.

- hari


annart profile image

annart 8 months ago from SW England

You're welcome. I always love reading your hubs.

Ann


word55 profile image

word55 8 months ago from Chicago

Hey John, strong message poetically laced here. I've never had the desire to visit NY. Maybe what you said here is why. If I ever go, it will be for business purposes. You've depicted it as the cold-blooded city that it is. Thanks for sharing. God bless!


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 8 months ago from LOS ANGELES

John, here's another city of illusion- In Washington, DC the white house sits in a nice area while homeless people sleep on the street not to far away. The rate for homelessness in that city is high. And the first thing politicians say when they want our votes is "We want to stop homelessness and bring back jobs" What a joke.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 8 months ago from Southern Illinois

John, your poem depicts the truth about the wealthy and ' the night people ' I wonder if the people who live in their penthouses ever think about the homeless? Wonderful poem!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

The oddest thing when I was reading this (on my iPhone) is that when I got midway down it appeared like that was the end and you were not accepting comments. I knew that wasn't you so I kept at it and then a bar popped up that said something like continent to rest of article. I've never seen this. Anyhow, I wish I could win the lottery to affect positive change. I would do so much with it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ye Kylyssa it is sad and I wish it wasn't true.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Shauna. I am glad you took time to listen to the song as well and found it suitable.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Glad I managed to get my message across effectively Frank. Thanks.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Clive, surely there is a way to effect change, but I fear yo are right.. It won't happen over night. Maybe we should send dick in :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Mike, that is exactly my point. Studies suggest poverty is decreasing but I haven't seen the evidence.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Paula. You are right of course, but some people don't have that.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Dana, I can tell from your comments and some of your hubs, that we have similar opinions about a lot of the world's problems. Thank you for reading and enjoying this piece.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Bill, I have heard that about Washington D.C., and also Las Vegas. There are many cities of illusion around the world in fact.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Hari you are right in defining one of the reasons for the situation of pain and misery within the big cities. It is a major problem but nothing is unsolvable. The Government's of the world can get together to try and find a solution for climate change, they can do the same for poverty.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Al, although the major picture is New York I wasn't specifically referring to it alone. I am talking big cities in general around the world. Most are "cold blooded" as you say. God bless.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for coming back Dana. Yes, Bill mentioned Washington DC earlier. Politicians always say they want to stop homelessness which is so hypocritical when it is right under their noses and continues unchecked.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Most are too involved in enjoying their luxurious lifestyles Ruby..it's much easier to just ignore the unpleasant realities.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

That is strange in regard to your iPhone Flourish. I will always accept comments. I hope you win the lottery, and it's a big one.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 8 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

Thank God, I'm a country girl. This poem is so realistic and it is shameful that most cities can relate.


RJ Schwartz profile image

RJ Schwartz 8 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

Very two dimensional interpretation of the high and low - you wonderfully depict the blackest of the black and the whitest of the white; an industrial yin and yang in a sense


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Diana, I am glad to be a country boy as well. I don't have to experience this on a day to day basis. Thanks for reading.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks RJ. The "industrial yin and yang" is probably an apt term. Though I don't think the two extremes compliment each other, I doubt one could exist without the other.


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 8 months ago from New England

So true, Jodah. Loved the line about soup kitchens having a truer tale to tell about city life than the rich and famous do.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 8 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Well written, John! It pictures the universal fact of modern world and lifestyle. Very bitter facts we are forced to digest daily. Why God has made so many people suffer and get crushed under poverty while a small group possess so much in abundance? This is very much unfair and I hope one day will come as you said in it when everything will change and good days will come to those poor beings also.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you Seafarer Mama, yes I feel that is where the true face of a society can be observed...the soup kitchens and the like.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Venkat, your comment described the situation well. There is a saying "what goes around comes around" so hopefully that one day the downtrodden will get retribution over their oppressors.


drbj profile image

drbj 8 months ago from south Florida

Very well said, Jodah, and your poetic description could fit most any big city in the world. But watch your back if you ever visit New York City - the folks there take great pride in the Big Apple - warts and all.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Than you drbj. Yes I have heard New Yorkers take pride in their city. I think I'll visit the Apple Isle (Tasmania) instead...much safer and no big cities there.


Smilealot 8 months ago

It can be a murky world beneath the surface...not sure what we can replace it with though. All the 'better' ideas about how mankind can live are just that...ideas, or idealistic ways to live..and they have proven to be catrastrophic time and again throughout history....and on that note, Happy New Year to you and yours, I hope you are well:-))


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Smilealot, I agree the solution is not a clear one. The entire way society and the economy works needs to be totally overturned and re-thought, but how do we get Government, banks and big corporations to agree to it? Oh well. Happy New Year to you also.


savvydating profile image

savvydating 8 months ago

As Jesus said, "The poor ye have with you always." Unfortunately. this has been the case in big cities and tiny villages for centuries. The problem is, one would think that a wealthy country could do something about it. However, the modern problem is truly complex in that we must first deal with personalities who have a difficult time meeting the expectation of (all the plethora) of social programs available. It's a tough case, for sure.

A meaningful poem!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you savvy, I don't know the answer, I wish I did. Hopefully one day......


DDE profile image

DDE 8 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I like the way you presented this poem and with such great words from the heart.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Devika, it is something I feel very strongly about and effects me deeply. Thank you for reading as always.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 8 months ago from Florida

You described most of the big cities here in America. New York City really came to my mind while reading your poem. Trump Towers, Mr. Trump himself lives his greedy ass there. I tell you, if the people here votes him in for President, we are so doomed. He is selling nothing but false promises. He is the biggest fraud. We need someone who will work for our poor and middle class, and he is not going to do it. He already said he would not raise the minimum wage here.

Sorry Jodah, for some reason, your poem made me think of him and all our futures that are at stake if he succeeds in becoming President. He is totally against laws for gun-control, and we know he will be helping his rich friends out more than the little guys. As you can tell, I'm a bit worried. lol...

I also wanted to say sorry I've gotten to this one a little late. I don't check my e-mail notifications everyday, and for some reason; I don't find your poems in the feed. So, I catch them by trying to visit your page every other day.

This was a very good poem as always! :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hello Missy, it is never too late. Thank you for sharing the troubling thoughts this evoked about New York City and Donald Trump. I agree (as an outsider) that him becoming president would be a sorry day for the USA and perhaps the world. When I read your latest hub "Give Peace a Chance.." I thought what a coincidence we had similar theme in both our latest hubs. Great minds think alike as they say. I wonder why you see my hubs show up in your feeds? Anyway thank you for reading and enjoying this Poem. Cheers.


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 8 months ago

uh Utopia versus Dystopia


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes in a way Sujaya. That's a good comparison.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 8 months ago from Pacific Northwest

This was a very accurate portrayal of big cities around the globe. Very well done.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

The title of this poem speaks well of the illusion -- as passersby turn their heads away from the failure of humanity. Of all sins, I think there is only one: Indifference. Your wonderful poem doesn't beat around the bush, John, and that's the way it should be. Kelly's song is excellent.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the confirmation of my words and sentiments Genna. Yes indifference is the biggest sin of all. Glad you like the Paul Kelly song too. Cheers.


Surabhi Kaura profile image

Surabhi Kaura 8 months ago from Toronto, Canada

Wow! I must say... Bitter Truth... bitter truth! Well-written and it's so true. It's a vicious circle. You have described such issues which are epidemic to our world in general. I truly bow in reverence before this poem of yours. Thank you for sprinkling water on those who are still in slumber (illusion). Remarkable poetry, Jodah. Hats off! Bravo.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Surabhi for your praise for this poem. Now and then I get up on my soapbox and preach about an issue I care strongly about..this is one of those occasions. I just hope those ho need to see this message get a chance to.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 8 months ago from Stillwater, OK

The city of exclusion is what life is getting to be like for many. Tempers are flaring, and some people seem to be only out for themselves, as they feel that life is now dog eat dog. This needs to end and quickly. A good way to educate the masses!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Deb, I am seeing and feeling a lot of growing unrest and dissatisfaction. If we aren't careful it will reach boiling point and anything could happen. Things have to change direction.


franciaonline profile image

franciaonline 8 months ago from Philippines

A powerful poem, Jodah! And Paul Kelly's "Fucking City" fits into a T.

I can relate completely with your poem because I do community organizing both in urban and rural areas. The injustice is just too much that we cannot just ignore the reality of evictions and lack of basic social services in blighted communities.. We facilitate organized action in demanding for basic social services and resist eviction. Very much in tune with the spirit of your poem.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Glad you could relate to the sentiments in this poem Francia, and found Paul Kelly's song fitting. Keep up your wonderful community work. It does make a difference.


Luna Blue profile image

Luna Blue 8 months ago

My favourite paragraph is the last...A powerfully hopeful conclusion to an unfortunately relatable piece.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading this Luna Blue, yes I felt that a somewhat negative subject should end in hope.


Chriswillman90 profile image

Chriswillman90 8 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

A cold yet truthful portrayal of the "city of illusion". I enjoyed how this poem was structured, the imagery fit perfectly, and every line felt down to earth. I couldn't write a poems like these to save my life. Great piece!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for that encouraging comment Chris. I hoped that this worked because I felt the message important. We all have different strengths and niches that suit us in writing. I am most comfortable with poetry.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 8 months ago from Oklahoma

Beautifully framed.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Larry.


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 8 months ago from North Carolina

John,

Perfect song for your hub. I also like the graphics used between stanzas. The message is so sad, but true...And your ability to paint the illusion is as always: masterful.

Kim


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Kim,

Thank you my sweet. As always I appreciate your feedback. I just had to include that song, glad you thought it fit the theme of the hub. I also decided to experiment with a bit of fancy stuff between the stanzas :)


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 months ago from Bishop, Ca

This poem speaks to all the world, from the U.S. to Beijing, I imagine. Thank you so much for the video, as well; Very eye-opening.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you lollie, I hoped this poem would convey an important message, and you are right it could be any city around the world.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 months ago from the short journey

The poem's description is of cities from throughout time from the Assyrian Empire, Babylonians, Jerusalemites, Etruria, the Roman Republic, Anglo-Saxon England, continuing through time in all large cities throughout the world. People in the Netherlands, Brussels, Switzerland, not to mention the poorest nations/cities try to help their homeless and fight crime. That the issues have always been a world-wide concern, not just a concern in places like Australia and the USA is a clue that the root of the problem is the heart of the human condition.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the insightful comment RTalloni. Yes these are timeless and world-wide issues and you are spot on in putting the responsibility on the human condition.


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 4 months ago from Minnesota

You did a great job of putting the reality of the illusion to poetry. I'm a country gal!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading and commenting, Colorfulone. I thinks us country guys and gals can appreciate and see the "illusion" that takes place in cities, from afar.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 months ago from Orlando, FL

Bravo to your poem with words that are so true, yet so sad. Your son did a brilliant performance of reciting your poetry! Awesome teamwork.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the wonderful comment, Sunshine. Yes, I heard Daniel's recitation of a couple of his own poems and was impressed, so asked him if he would try a couple of mine. He did well.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Hi again Jodah....I just wanted to read this moving poem again. I noticed your response to my comment and realized something very true that I missed. There are people who have no one in this world. I don't often think about this because it's just so awful, I guess.

You're right though and it is so difficult for many of us to imagine being totally alone~no family, no close friends.

Coming to terms with this makes it all the more vital for those of us who can offer assistance, to reach out in some small way to give comfort. Thanks for nudging my awareness....Paula


Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for returning for another read, Paula. If Anything I write can make someone reconsider things or see things a slightly different way then I feel I have succeeded as a writer. Have a great day/night.

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    John Hansen (Jodah)686 Followers
    267 Articles

    John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded "Poet of the Year 2014" Hubby Awards and has had two poems become songs.



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